Montado and Mosaic Systems in Portugal

Description of system

In Portugal, the main agroforestry system is a traditional system called Montado. It is characterized by low density trees combined with agriculture or pastoral activities. The main tree species encountered in the Montado are cork oak (Quercus suber L) and/or holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia L). Mixed stands with a combination of these species are also common. Cork oak based Montado areas are included in the Portuguese National Forest Inventory (NFI) as part of the cork oak and holm oak forest area, which occupies 736,775 ha and 331,179 ha respectively (AFN, 2010). There are substantial variations in the management of the understorey ranging from forest systems (cork in cork oak systems) to agrosilvopastoral systems (cork, sweet acorns, animal and/or crop production together). The majority of the Montado area is in the south-east of Portugal, although there are some areas in the north of the country.

Agroforestry also exists in North and Central Portugal in the form of natural pastures where trees are included as hedges, borders or riparian forest lines (collectively known as "Lameiros"), and there are considered to be about 41400 ha of low density stands of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) called "Soutos e castinçais".

If you would like to know about the activity of this group, please contact Dr Joana Amaral Paulo (joanaap@isa.ulisboa.pt) or Dr João Palma (joaopalma@isa.ulisboa.pt) at Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA), Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Initial stakeholder meeting

The first meeting of the stakeholder group was held on 24 July 2014, and was attended by 22 stakeholders. The meeting was hosted by the City Council of Coruche and was organised by the Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA) of the University of Lisbon. The participants included eight technicians and eight forest and farm managers. The positive aspects of agroforestry systems focused on income and product diversity, soil conservation, biodiversity and wildlife habitats, and reduced fire risk. The negative aspects included regulation, the complexity of work, and tree regeneration and survival. The initial stakeholder group identified a range of potential research themes including an economic evaluation of different agroforestry systems.

Download the initial stakeholder report

Two initial stakeholder reports were produced: one focused on the montado system and one on traditional agroforestry systems in Northern and Central Portugal.

Download the initial research and development protocol

A protocol on cork oak systems was produced in February 2015.

Download the system description

A system description report providing an update on the research on cork oak silvopastoral systems was produced in January 2016.

Lessons learnt

Staff from the University of Lisbon have produced a report to summarise their research on the effects of understory management on tree and cork growth in the montados of Portugal. 

  • A medium-term trial (over 10 years from 2003 to 2012) showed small and varying differences in the effect of a lupin pasture (relative to spontaneous vegetation) on the annual growth of cork. However, no effect was observed on tree wood diameter growth.
  • The cork thickness variability between trees and the individual tree responses seemed to be more affected by climate conditions than the tested management alternatives.  Differences found between two blocks suggest that site characteristics should be explored in further research.
  • A short-term and on-going trial (2016 - on going) is comparing the effect on cork growth, soil and leaf properties of incorporating understorey vegetation into the soil and of applying fertilizer.  The measurements are ongoing, but initial results suggest that the response of the trees to the treatments are affected by the weather in a particular year and the time from the last cork harvest (cork age).