Back to Nature: Portuguese taking charge, By Hannah Cross & Peter Buchholtz

Melanie Vairinhos, Joana Martinho e André Mestre, membros da equipa Terracrua Design, foram entrevistados sobre a temática dos incêndios, e sobre o papel da empresa no apoio a zonas ardidas.

A entrevista está em inglês, e foi realizada por Hannah Cross e Peter Buchholtz, alunos da Escola Dinamarquesa de Media e Jornalismo, e; receberam nota máxima!

“After the largest death toll from fires in modern Portuguese history, local companies such as Terracrua and Associação Transumância e Natureza are fighting back to save their country from future disaster.

Terracrua, a landscape company that specialises in ecological regenerative design, have been taking pro-bono cases since the catastrophic fires in June and October. They are developing do-it-yourself landscape plans to help communities implement better fire prevention strategies.

“Our goal is to try to help people, municipalities, associations and so on to develop standards of production for agriculture, which are based on a more regenerative perspective of everything that comes from nature,” says Melanie Vairinhos, an employee at Terracrua.

Based in Loulé in the southern region of Algarve, Terracrua are proposing solutions all over Portugal where land is at risk of the disastrous consequences of fire.

“We study the space and we help prepare the landscape,” says Joana Martinho, one of Terracrua’s landscape architects.

“We advise people to look at the landscape in a different way than they are used to,” adds Vairinhos.

For decades, northern and central Portugal has been home to Eucalyptus plantations. When fire comes, these monocultural forests burn at an alarming rate, destroying homes and livelihoods in the process.

Employees at Terracrua feel this is their way of giving back to a country so often devastated by these fires.

“It’s not the first time fire has come to Portugal, but the first time it’s killed so many people,” says Vairinhos, “We have offered designs pro-bono for people affected by the fires because this is our way to contribute.”

It’s all about the water

One of the first things Terracrua does when regenerating land is create water retaining spaces such as cisterns, small lakes, and dams.

“For fires it’s very important to hydrate the landscape,” says André Mestre, another landscape architect at Terracrua who visited the affected areas near Pedrógão Grande.

“If the vegetation is hydrated, it’s less vulnerable to fire,” Vairinhos adds.

The post-fire designs work in two parts. The first is the emergency plan, the second works to create more fire-resilient systems for the future.

“The idea is to mould the landscape, to control the erosion and manage the organic matter that has been left so the effects that come after the fire are mitigated,” Vairinhos says of the emergency design.

Part two of the design involves clients applying techniques themselves.

Vairinhos speaks of an older client who was receptive to the new techniques – something not typical of Portugal’s older generations.

“[Older generations] are used to another type of vision of the landscape, ecologically speaking. Especially more rural people at this age, they are not always open – she was. She was very observant of how her plants reacted.”

Replicable Regeneration

Not only has Terracrua assisted specific projects within Portuguese municipalities, but the models they are producing are repeatable, open-source and ready for the public to access.

“We created these designs as models that could be replicated,” says Vairinhos.

She also notes that access to information and education is important in being able to implement new fire prevention tactics.

“Laws are important,” Vairinhos says, “But most important is that people get the need, get the willing to really implement resilient, regenerative landscapes.”

While Terracrua work small-scale, they believe the key to large-scale prevention of disastrous fires is better landscape management – including both flora and fauna.

“The animals are a part that we forget about the forest,” says Mestre, “They could help, not just wild animals but also the goats and the cows, to manage the landscape.”


Ver a entrevista completa abaixo nos seguintes links:

Back to nature versão *.pdf

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