Bringing more balance to the local ecosystem

The Arambha Permaculture project is contributing to the efforts to conserve the native Laurisilva forest by periodic reforestation actions.

The 20 million years old Laurel forest has been under a gradual degradation, under the influence of human establishment and malpractices on the island, introducing invasive species such as the Eucalyptus and the Acacia, as well as the extensive damage caused by frequent wildfires and planned fires for agricultural purposes. However, as woodlots are burned and replanted, the complex mosaic of the natural forest is replaced by a highly uniform, mono-species landscape. Because the replanted trees are nearly identical in age, the cycle of debris replenishing the forest floor is interrupted. This new “ecosystem” cannot support the myriad fungi, insects, small mammals, birds, mosses, and flora so characteristic of ancestral forests. In pursuit of commercial forests, the native ecology has been supplanted by a biologically anemic woodlot. This woodlot landscape is barren in terms of species diversity.

Since 2018, part of our mission is to bring more balance to the local ecosystem, by promoting bio-diversity and bringing back endemic species to the land and planting with a more mindful and respectful approach towards the native environment. A forest, as a living ecosystem, contributes to the soil improvement and the water retention, thus being crucial for the wellbeing of the island’s inhabitants.

In the winter of 2023 we also started to implement myco-permaculture in different zones of our project, meaning we started working in collaboration with different species of fungi that have a direct positive impact on the ecosystem. Eucalyptus and Acacias trees, perceived as aggressive species that tend to monopolize an ecosystem, now it’s an abundant substrate for mushroom production, favored by many different species of fungi. The logs harvested from these pioneer species will supply for many years ahead, with food and medicine for the people, and will end up decomposing into an enriched nutritional boost for the soil, attracting more beneficial microorganisms that help regenerate the soil. The space created by the freshly cut trees will give a chance to the new planted trees to grow and balance out the system.

We’ve already observed over the past few years the increase of diversity of birds, butterflies, bees and other insects around our lands, which directly impacts the rate of pollination and production yields. Our goal is to continue planting more endemic and other relevant species, and to inspire and encourage other people to follow this approach on their own farms. Furthermore, we invite people to come join our planting days and contribute for the cause.

For tourists and guests from abroad we offer “a day of planting” at Arambha, which includes a full tour of the land, the planting activities with all the tools and logistics prepared, a shared lunch and of course, a lot of fun!

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