Gulbenkian invests in Forests

The partnership between the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Efanor Investments involves an investment of 31 M€ in biodiverse forest management and the reduction of fire risk in the North and Centre regions of Portugal.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Efanor Investments will intervene over the next few years in an area of 15,000 hectares, based on the lease of land in the north and centre of the country. By the end of the project, which aims to be intergenerational, the estimated investment will be of around 31 million euros, to be shared equally by the partners.

The project, characterised by investment in Biodiverse Productive Forest in Portugal, is committed to more efficient forest management, the promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem services, high carbon sequestration, landscape diversification and the creation of mosaics, as opposed to continuous forest.  Reducing the risk of fire will also be one of the key points of the intervention, by diversifying and combining species – with a greater predominance of maritime pine and cork oak, as well as oaks and strawberry trees, from a total of 12 selected species -, implementing fuel management strips in strategic locations and investing in regular surveillance.

This initiative is consistent with the work that both organisations have been developing in terms of climate action, placing environmental protection at the top of their strategic priorities.

For the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, this project is also a way of diversifying its investments, following the decision made in 2019 to divest from oil and gas.

The President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation stresses that this investment “actively contributes to the important commitment recently signed by 105 countries at COP26, including Portugal, to halt deforestation and deterioration of land use by 2030. Isabel Mota also considers that “the protection and restoration of biodiversity inherent to this project, carbon sequestration or the preservation of soils and waterways are essential elements for compliance with the Paris Agreement and to reduce the climate impacts already in progress”.

“We hope to have found a model with economic, environmental and social benefits for the forests of central and northern Portugal. This investment will serve to prove this and, subsequently, to expand it significantly”, states Paulo Azevedo, Chairman of Efanor Investments.

This is an investment model that aims to create financial, social and environmental benefits through active forest management and the reduction of fire risk, the promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem services, carbon capture and sequestration, diversification of soil use and forest composition and forest productivity, through technology and innovation. Another direct result of the project is the strengthening of local economies and the valorisation of territories and their communities.

The project also relies on Sonae Arauco as an operational and technology partner.

Updated on 14 december 2021

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