A farm in Portugal is showing how the ancient art of silvopasture – combining livestock with productive trees – may offer some real answers to the climate crisis
The land to the north of the village of Foros de Vale Figueira in southern Portugal has been owned and farmed through the centuries by Romans, Moors, Christians, capitalists, far rightists, even the military. It has been part of a private fiefdom, worked by slaves as well as communists.
Now this 100-hectare (247-acre) patch of land just looks exhausted – a great empty grassland without trees, people or animals, wilting under a baking Iberian sun.
But look closely and you can just see the future: tips of thousands of tiny oak and nut trees following the contours and poking through thick mulches of grass and leaves.
“This will be the new montado,” says Alfredo Cunhal, referring to a pre-medieval Portuguese system of farming.