The early morning of 16 November was cold and dark in the Mata Nacional do Urso Nature Park in the Pombal region, in Leiria. The sun rose slowly, bringing with it the human warmth and determination of around 500 volunteers from the Land of Hope movement, who joined forces with members of the local community to carry out another stage of their heartfelt mission: helping to reforest Portugal, an initiative that began shortly after the major wildfires of 2017, still alive in the memory of the Portuguese people due to the high number of lives that were lost. Two years later, the movement comprising a partnership between the Galp Foundation and ANEFA (National Association of Forestry, Agricultural and Environmental Companies) returned to one of the biggest nature reserves in central Portugal, the Leiria Pine Forest, to bring new hope and colour to the land ravaged by the fires: to plant around 12,000 maritime pine and stone pine trees in a 16.8 hectare swathe of land in the area surrounding Lake Ervedeira.
This initiative is just one of many that have already brought together 6,500 volunteers willing to put their energy into making Portugal greener, with a total of more than 280,000 trees planted in a number of municipalities from the north to the south of the country. The target, however, is more ambitious: half a million trees planted by the spring of 2020, in an area equivalent in size to around 600 football pitches. To make this possible, Sandra Aparício from the Galp Foundation points out, more partnerships have been forged with the authorities of several municipalities, while even more volunteers are needed.
Land of Hope will have several reforestation initiatives across the country in the coming months, the primary goal of which is to plant 500,000 trees by March 2020. To learn more about this movement and the activities involved, visit terradeesperanca.pt.