In 2018, the Serra de Monchique landscape was destroyed by a devastating wildfire. Subsequently, the Renature Monchique project was set up with the aim of restoring Natura 2000 Network’s key habitats, supporting local welfare and mitigating future impacts of climate change, while helping the local community to recover from the disaster.
Among those coming on board to support the project was Ryanair, with a partnership, launched in March 2019 as part of airline company’s carbon offset initiative, to help revitalise the ecology of the Monchique region’s ecology and support the restoration of forest habitats in these fire-devastated areas in the Algarve.
As a result of this initiative, Ryanair donated €250,000 (funded by customers) to Renature Monchique. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary presented the cheque to Renature Monchique and a group of Portuguese tourism and forestry partners.
Ryanair claims to be Europe’s greenest airline, “operating the youngest fleet with the highest load factors, and the most efficient fuel burn per passenger. Ryanair delivers industry-leading CO2 emissions per passenger-km of just 66 grams, which is up to 50 per cent lower than Europe’s other four big airlines.”
Announcing the donation, O´Leary said, “Ryanair, our people and our customers are proud to support this reforestation initiative in the Monchique region of the Algarve. Thousands of hectares of trees were destroyed by forest fires in 2018. We’re very happy to provide these funds to help restore the region’s forests and the unique natural beauty of the Monchique region.”
Restoring the Algarve’s “Lung”
According to Marlene Marques, president of the environmental defence association GEOTA, “This commitment from the private sector provides the opportunity for civil society to support the restoration of important and unique forest habitats… Renature Monchique will help restore the ‘cultural landscapes’ of this area, an important national and international tourism destination.
“We therefore welcome Ryanair’s and its customers’ support for this initiative as we return these vital habitats to this area, not only for the species that flourish in these habitats, but also to return the devastated woodlands, forests and river bank vegetation that make up this culturally important place. In so doing, Ryanair is also supporting the local council to meet their requirements under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, by preventing further land degradation and supporting the climate change mitigation efforts of carbon sequestration by planting trees.”
Added João Fernandes, president of the Algarve Tourism Region, “As the Algarve is a region internationally renowned for the outstanding quality of its beaches and golf courses, a commitment to nature conservation is extremely important for tourism in the area.
“Without the commitment of all involved parties – environmental NGO GEOTA, the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, the Algarve Tourism Board and other local entities, in addition to Ryanair – it would not be possible to promote the ecological restoration of Monchique’s land and forests in harmony with the remaining territory of the Algarve, which is still the main holiday destination in Portugal.”
Concluded Monchique mayor Rui André, “The forest, its management and planning as well as the way people relate to their rural and forest territory are undoubtedly the great challenges of our collective future. Climate change that frighteningly makes us look to the future with great apprehension requires real changes in everyone’s daily action, seeking a carbon balance, for which the essential role of our forest will be fundamental.
“The challenge is global, but the necessary relation between policy makers with civil society, allied to corporate social responsibility, scientific knowledge and local populations, makes projects like these an invaluable contribution to the necessary change. The recent wildfire is a challenging opportunity for us to draw a new landscape, productive and environmental, but also to enable man to live in harmony and safety, in a more resilient environment that continues to make Monchique a true garden, but above all the ‘lung’ of the Algarve region.”
The Algarve has a rich diversity of natural landscapes. Find out more about the region in our Area Guides section.