This project – implemented by Cascais Ambiente, the public body responsible for the management of the area - aimed to implement a landscape-scale conservation initiative in 380 ha of abandoned area of forest and agricultural land in the Sintre-Cascais Natura 2000 site to improve its value for wildlife and its attractiveness to visitors.
As part of this initiative the project has: created walking trails that channel access away from sensitive areas; restored and managed meadows, riparian forests and ponds; planted native trees, shrubs and hedgerows; controlled invasive species; introduced endangered sheep and donkey breeds; restored old farm buildings; and built a visitors’ centre.
Over 250 outdoor, nature-based activities are offered every year. These activities are carried out in a way that supports habitat management, increases the overall landscape mosaic and promotes biological diversity. Visitors can participate in a wide range of nature-based activities. They can, for instance, pick seasonal organic products from the farm, purchase local products and handicrafts at the visitors’ centre, join guided walks, follow horse and donkey trails, birdwatch or participate in wildlife identification courses.
The project also engages actively with a wide range of the local community: it has established partnerships with local beekeepers to improve pollination and provide a new outlet for their honey. In addition, a social design project was launched in association with care and mental disability institutions to enable some 150 people to develop handicrafts that can then be sold in the visitors’ centre. A social re-integration project has helped people with drug and alcohol addictions to find work on the farm. And finally, a special programme of events has been designed for local school children to visit the area.
The area, which is now a public park, has seen a significant rise in visitor numbers since its restoration. Some 110 000 people visited the area in 2019, which marking a significant increase compared to the previous year (70 000 in 2018). This demonstrates the success of the project in increasing the attractiveness of the area for visitors. Any income that is generated from the visits is reinvested into the management of the area, and thus also in to improving its wildlife.