Montado, Cultural Landscape
Permanent Delegation of Portugal to UNESCO
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The Montado is a cultural landscape shaped by human activity. Over the ages mankind has been able to mould and sustain a multifunctional agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystem located in the south of the Tagus Valley. These areas were originally occupied by Mediterranean woodlands and are now populated by cork oaks and holm oaks - legally protected species since the 7th century - which grow in extreme edaphic-climatic conditions and very poor soils.
Located in southern Europe, with a rich and wide variety of cultural influences, where the frontier between the Christian and Arab worlds was disputed during almost five centuries (up until the 13th century), the Montado has been influenced by a significant presence of military orders and a long period of feudal rule. Currently it still preserves remnants from previous epochs, in an economy that is sustained by the worldwide expansion of industrial cork production.
The enormous biodiversity of the Montado system turns this area into a buffer zone against the advance of the ongoing global process of desertification. (1) This has been possible through a sustainable management of the balance between its arboreal, shrubby and herbaceous elements, based on the traditional knowledge and in the preservation of traditional forms of settlement.
The Montado Cultural Landscape is characterised by the distinctive traits of specific knowledge and the practise of a multifunctional agro-silvo-pastoral system, defined by low density tree population, consisting mainly of the Quercus species (Quercus suber and Quercus rotundifolia), as well as agricultural crops and pasture. With variations in the territory, this landscape is suitable for several uses, depending on the density of trees – cork oak and holm oak – that seek to adapt to the specific edaphoclimatic conditions, frequently dominated by skeletal soils with sparse organic matter and Mediterranean, Continental or Atlantic climate influences. By definition the Montado is a constructed landscape, shaped exclusively by human activity, that mankind has generated and manages in a unique manner, in order to guarantee its sustainability.
The Montado system currently occupies, in the South of Portugal, an area of over 1 million hectares, covering a significant part of the Alentejo region, large areas of the Tagus Valley and of Beira Baixa interior, as well as and the mountain ranges of the Algarve (Serra Algarvia).
The cork oak forest zones are located in a territory of greater Atlantic influence, including a vast zone, predominantly along a SW – NE axis, extending between the municipalities of Alcácer do Sal and Grândola and the municipalities of Crato and Portalegre.
The main holm oak forest zone is primarily located further inland, with a Mediterranean climate and greater continental influence, accompanying the frontier zone and a significant part of the Southern Alentejo. Between the cork oak and holm oak forest zones (or associated to them) we find areas of mixed montado of cork oak and holm oak trees, and also of cork oaks mixed with other species, such as stone pine.
The Montado is an expression of a system where the human intervention has been present over many historical periods, whose ancient roots are documented. It is also an archaic landscape, where traditional systems are still present, in which modernisation processes associated to intensification of production or heavily mechanised processes tend to create disturbances and ruptures. It uniquely combines ecological harmony and economic efficiency, with communities grouped over generations in small villages, exploring the local resources in an integrated way. It has always been an inhabited area (oikos) shaped by know-how (logos).
The Montado’s environmental relevance is recognised due to the associated and interdependent fauna and flora, with a high diversity of species, including species of undeniable interest for conservation, such as the imperial eagle and Iberian lynx. The Montado system is also one of the mechanisms best adapted and adjusted to combat and control desertification in the Portuguese rural world. The existence of tree cover in pasture land (the so-called anthropogenic savannah) is of great importance for the production of fruits (acorns from the cork oak and holm oak trees) and foliage. The woody and herbaceous components produce significant effects in terms of the thermal system and soil water regulation and guarantee a high carbon capture capacity, making it possible to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The existence of scrub layer favours other complementary activities such as the production of honey, medicinal and aromatic herbs, mushrooms, vegetable coal and hunting.
The Montado territory incorporates many historical testimonies that confirm its rich and dynamic culture, preserved to the present day and marked by enormous coherence and unity. This was only possible because cultural syntheses were achieved of the various peoples and cultures that have cohabited the zone for centuries. This is the territory where Europe’s southern border facing the Mediterranean has been defined and established. Its cultural relevance is confirmed by the legacies of cultural exchanges, coexistence and confrontations, that may be detected in the shape of its urban areas, civil and military architecture, building processes (in particular specific aspects of rammed earth construction which was suited to the lack of local resources), literary heritage and linguistic interconnections, musical modalities, flavours that combine the scarcity of resources with gastronomy influences that have been documented since the 10th century, ceramic arts and tilling of the land, in management of the multi-functional aspects of the overall system.
These characteristics are the foundations of the resilience and economic vitality of the Montado, highly connected to cork production, managed for this purpose since the first half of the twentieth century (2), and for free-range pig farming, two activities with a confirmed historical tradition – cork for its industrial production of worldwide importance and with a global market and pork as a protected and well-known brand.
“According to the Green Paper on the Montado (...) the designation “Montado” may currently be used to describe a heterogeneous group of non-woody forest production systems, based on the exploitation of oak trees – usually cork oak and holm oak trees – in conjunction with non-intensive use of the under cover land, for agricultural, livestock or hunting purposes. (...) although it has key characteristics found throughout this territory, the Montado cultural landscape has huge variability: the spatial variation of its biophysical characteristics (geology, soils, climate, etc.), biometric characteristics, productivity and the resilience of the trees, as well as the tree density, reflecting management practices maintained over time. The Montado landscape is made up of different types of cork oak and holm oak plantations, in a progressive succession, without sharp boundaries, but always varied and never monotonous.” (3)
The proposed area to be included in the Tentative List aims at encompassing such variability, by identifying different zones with different typologies (within the environmental, historical-social, economic and aesthetic dimensions), that jointly share the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of this Cultural Landscape.
The definition of the buffer zones admits a 1km extension beyond the boundaries of each of the demarcated zones of the Heritage asset (still in the process of adjustment).
1 Cancela d'Abreu, Alexandre D'Orey, PAISAGENS CULTURAIS DO MONTADO: Diversidade, Dinâmicas e Potencialidades, 2015
2 SILBERT, Albert (1966).
3 Pinto-Correia, Teresa, Sistema agro-silvo-pastoril: desafios de uma gestão multifunctional, 2015.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The justification of the Montado’s Outstanding Universal Value is based on the recognition of the uniqueness of this Cultural Landscape shaped by Man, moulded by human craft and preserved over the generations.
The Outstanding Universal Value is recognised in the distinctive traits resulting from man’s adaptation to the specific conditions of this territory, which portray the wisdom of a people that has always been capable of making the most of a sustained relationship between the tree cover and the poor organic quality of the lands, by understanding the edge effect. These traits mark the challenges posed by history, from Mozarabism and the Christian Reconquest to the period of expansion, from industrialisation (especially in the cork sector) to innovation, in a highly globalised world.
The singular symbiosis between the Montado’s living elements also reflect in the shape and expression of the resulting landscape, whose aesthetic value is undeniable. The distinctive traits of the Montado landscape are its shape (depth and extension); movement (an undulated terrain marked by the silhouettes of the treetops of the cork oak and holm oak trees, like an intermittent horizontal edge); colour (chromatic diversity and dynamics); and light (whether during daytime, in terms of the contrast between open clearings and shaded zones, or at night, in the bright and vast landscape of the starry sky).
The attributes underpinning the Montado’s Outstanding Universal Value are conditioned by good management practices and management of the Montado in each land area, precisely because “This management dimension should be recognised and valued, given that if the Montado is managed in a careless and unbalanced manner, it will always be a Montado in decline, threatened with disappearance”.(4)
The identification of the criteria justifying the Outstanding Universal Value of the Montado is based on a combination of attributes that must be found throughout the entire territory, viewed as a single Heritage Asset and that, overall, make it possible to confirm its excellence and, as such, confirm its unique character.
This Landscape is characterised by a unique and multifunctional agro-silvo-pastoral system, which has been created by man through adaptation of Mediterranean woodland, in an area of intense Atlantic influence.
It is also a Landscape that reveals the marks created by a historical process of territorial occupations, where a decisive role has been placed by the encounter between Christian and Muslim peoples, which left key distinctive vestiges from the Christian Reconquest period.
The Montado Cultural Landscape is also associated to the region that currently boasts the world’s largest area of cork production, integrated within an industry that was established here in the mid/late 19th century.
Criterion (iv): The Montado cultural landscape represents a notable example of a landscape that illustrates significant periods in human history.
Despite the existence of vestiges revealing occupation of the territory prior to the “Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula”, in particular those associated to the Roman occupation and the Islamic presence in this part of the Mediterranean, the Montado’s agro-silvo-pastoral system assumed its clear characteristics after the Christian Reconquest, in which the territory was subject to a process of re-feudalisation. Its territorial traits in the heart of the Mediterranean region, either in terms of the forms of human settlement or economic exploitation of natural resources, became particularly evident during this historical period.
The system incorporates features from different cultures, since it has been established in a territory that has been subject to significant sociocultural, economic and institutional changes, in addition to the significant confrontations and dialogue between Islamic and Christian cultures.
History has also left its mark on this landscape through cultivation of cork oak trees and the benefits of processing cork. Cork was initially processed using traditional techniques, for domestic purposes. During the Discoveries era, cork became an essential raw material for making the structures of sailing ships. Its value increased over time. During the 15th and 16th centuries, contracts were signed to create a monopoly on the exportation of cork to Flanders and the United Kingdom. From the 17th century onwards, production expanded to meet the growing international demand for wine corks, after rediscovery of cork’s capacity to conserve wine, attributed to the Benedictine monk from Reims, D. Pierre Pérignon. In the early 19th century, the settling of Catalans in the area and the building of the first cork factory in the Alentejo (located at Santiago de Escoural, in Montemor-o-Novo) favoured the transition towards industrial production. Technological evolution and design have recently created new functions and applications for this raw material, which is internationally renowned due to its versatile characteristics. Today, Portugal has about one third of the world’s total cork-oak area and produces over half of global cork production.
The history of the Montado system has also been influenced by specific laws. Portugal created the world’s oldest laws to protect cork oak and holm oak trees.
Criterion (v): The Montado cultural landscape is a distinct example of human settlement and traditional land use, representative of human interaction with the surrounding environment, whose vulnerability tends to increase over time.
The Montado is the result of man’s capacity and knowledge to take advantage of the relationship between the tree cover and extremely poor organic soils (skeletal soil, scarce water), through an agro-silvo-pastoral system, in an extensive regime, which makes it possible to use the land’s resources in a sustainable manner, despite the extreme edaphoclimatic conditions. It is an artificial ecosystem, fragile and of slow renewal, that is the result of continued human intervention.
This territory’s uniqueness also results from the specific characteristics of the human settlement process, deeply influenced by the poor soils and the consequent scarcity of resources. The “monte” (an isolated hilltop farm) is the territory’s basic unit of human settlement, which gives the Montado landscape its distinctive appearance. The “monte” is a symbol of the tremendous interdependence with the multifunctional farming system of extensive production. Maintaining the Montado means maintaining the built structure, through its revitalization and adaptation to a new generation of farmers. This is a necessary condition for human permanence and for living in this territory in a framework of sustainability. (5)
People originally settled in locations with favourable living conditions (such as access to water). From this central point, they organised an extensive area divided into parcels of land, that began with vegetable gardens and olive groves (or orchards with fruit trees), an area of non-irrigated cereal production (to a larger or smaller extent and cultivated in a gentle manner) and the montado, intended for pasture land (originally mainly for sheep) and for producing firewood and charcoal. The distribution of these hilltop farms (“montes”) throughout the territory reveals signs of rhythmic occupation, structured by two essential rationales: one of extensive production, in response to the low soil fertility; and another rationale based on travel times, related to distances that are compatible with a day’s work, and reliance on animal transport (traditionally the farmstead’s buildings included a stable for a donkey or horse).
The territory’s built occupation still retains various signs of this original matrix, whether in the isolated hilltop farms (“montes”), of various dimensions, in function of the evolution of the feudal land-ownership system, or small villages which, in many cases, were originally hilltop farms (“montes”) around which families of poor farmers began to settle, on land ceded by the large landowners.
“But if man had a decisive influence on creation of the Montado, this system also influenced the human community that settled there, creating an entire structure around it, with its own set of professions, rules and inseparable practices.” (Fonseca, 2015).
The Montado’s characteristic cork oak tree population, of low density and Atlantic influence, is distinct from the brushland or woodland landscapes commonly found in other areas of the Mediterranean region. Its singularity is also based on the fact that the cork is extracted without cutting down the tree, or the fact that extraction and use of the cork for industrial processes occurs in harmony with other components of the multifunctional system, and due to the prime importance that this sector now holds at the world level.
The exceptional biodiversity of the Montado landscape (e.g. the high level of diversity of the flora, in terms of herbaceous plants) presupposes human intervention. If the land were abandoned, it would spontaneously recover its natural vegetation and restore the original characteristics of the Mediterranean woodland.
The current vulnerabilities of this landscape are associated to various risks that may arise as a result of demographic ageing and consequent rural abandonment; drastic reduction in extensive pasture land or extraction of cork and firewood; specialised production processes based on intensified agricultural or forestry production (cereals, intensive pastures or cork production in cork oak plantations); or even the recent disease that has affected cork oak and holm oak trees and whose causes have not yet been clearly diagnosed.
Criterion (vi): “The multi-functionality of the Montado and its importance in terms of the area occupied in the South of Portugal mean that a huge part of the region’s intangible cultural heritage, such as the gastronomy, traditions, the Cante Alentejano, imaginary universe, local legends, are linked and rooted in the areas of the Montado and the special characteristics of this system. As a result, both the landscape and the identity of the South of Portugal is highly influenced by the Montado.”(6)
This territory has many expressions of popular culture that strengthen the multiple and sustained use of the scarce resources available to the resident population, of which the Montado system is a paradigm. Reference may be made to several forms of this intangible cultural heritage.
Traditional arts and crafts, combine local resources and traditional expertise, that was initially intended to satisfy the needs of the rural community: cork to produce benches, milk pails and hods; wood for making painted furniture; cowbells that are a testimony to grazing in the Montado regions.
Removing cork from trees requires ancestral expertise and techniques, essential to guarantee the longevity of the trees and the whole Montado system, which acquire specific notable characteristics in this territory. Cork harvesters are highly specialised in handling the “cork axe”, an instrument with unique characteristics, adapted to its function and only used in this region.
Alentejo’s gastronomy, based on traditional ingredients of the Mediterranean diet (bread, wine and olive oil), has evolved into a unique number of ways to combine the scarce resources, that are either native to, or are cultivated in, the region. Until very recently, due to property ownership regimes and agro-forestry operations, the Alentejo’s popular gastronomy was very poor and was essentially based on bread and water, used to make açordas (a thick bread soup) and migas (dishes based on fried bread crumbs). However these dishes were given their unmistakeable flavour through the addition of aromatic herbs (which are extremely varied in the Montado), such as coriander, spearmint, pennyroyal and rosemary. The more prosperous families fortified this diet with lamb and pork meat, from the Montado pastures, and with dogfish from the Atlantic coast. This gastronomy is complemented by a wide variety of convent sweets, originally invented by the religious orders that existed in the region. The simplest desserts are based on bread, while the richest examples are based on eggs, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cinnamon, almonds or gila (Siam pumpkin). The traditional Alentejan lath-and-plaster construction, a building technique that uses rammed earth, was widely used until the mid-20th century. It was probably the Muslims who introduced these techniques and made them widespread. Nevertheless, rammed earth has been used as a construction material in the Iberian Peninsula since prehistoric times, as revealed by archaeological vestiges from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods and the Iron Age. This technique benefitted from the efficient use of simple structural parts, and traditional Alentejan methods and materials, which endowed it with greater construction resistance. Rammed earth walls have good thermal properties, thus keeping the house cool during the day and warmer at night. Finally, mention should be made of the traditional Cante Alentejano (polyphonic choir singing from the Alentejo) which has already been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This popular musical genre combines elements from Gregorian chant with other musical forms of Arab origin, dating back to the centuries when Muslims ruled Southern Portugal, and also the Sephardic tradition (i.e. Jews living in the Iberian peninsula), that also had an important presence in this territory.
4 Pinto-Correia, Teresa, Sistema agro-silvo-pastoril: desafios de uma gestão multifunctional, 2015.
5 Lopes, Nuno Ribeiro, personal communication, 2016.
6 Pinto-Correia, Teresa, Sistema agro-silvo-pastoril: desafios de uma gestão multifuncional, 2015.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The Cultural Landscape’s authenticity is based on the fact that it is an anthropogenic landscape whose sustainability depends on continuous human intervention, which guarantees the delicate balance between the various strata – trees, shrubs and grasses – which endow form and rationality to the Montado.
“These are cultural landscapes because this human intervention, which focuses more directly on the living components of the system, is essential for conservation of the Montado zones - without such intervention, these systems will quickly transform into dense cork oak or holm oak forests, thus losing much of their multifunctionality and also their environmental, social and economic sustainability.” (7)
The Montado is an agro-silvo-pastoral system that has endured and maintained the same characteristics over the centuries and which is enforced by the world’s oldest protective legislation for cork oak and holm oak trees - its original tree species. The first legislation dates from the 7th century (Visigoth legislation enacted even before Portugal became a nation) and was later complemented by laws from the early 13th century (Costumes e Foros de Castelo Rodrigo / Charters and Customs of Castelo Rodrigo, 1209).
Moreover, the Montado Landscape reveals marks left by a history of territorial occupations, particularly the encounter and confrontation between the Christian and Muslim peoples, which left major distinctive vestiges from the previous periods (Romanisation, Christian Reconquest or the modern epoch).
The pattern of human settlement was influenced, not only by historic factors, but also by the high interdependence between this settlement pattern and the agro-silvo-pastoral system, with emphasis on the hilltop farm (“monte”) as the distinctive structuring element of the first human settlements in the territory, which endow the Montado Landscape with unique features. The hilltop farms (“montes”) functioned as an elementary agricultural complex located near water sources and surrounded by rings of specialised crops, from the production of vegetables and fruits, to non-irrigated cereals and the areas of the Montado used for pasture land, cutting firewood and harvesting cork.
The territorial occupation process was marked by equally characteristic buildings and complexes, that can still be seen today: villages or hamlets that have been built in a very regular pattern, starting and ending in a nearly geometric layout, due to the lack of natural obstacles, with a typical urban expression and characteristic architectonic forms, in terms of the buildings’ volume on the ground, rammed earth construction materials and techniques; and the large landholdings – “herdades” (estates) – that are predominant throughout the Alentejo region, which also originated from the practice of granting large land areas to the Military Orders (Order of Aviz, implanted in the North Alentejo and the Order of Santiago in the South Alentejo) as a means of guaranteeing the region’s defence and to encourage human settlement. The process of refeudalisation of this territory, following the Christian Reconquest period, existed alongside the structure of human settlement dominated by small and medium-sized properties: they were small communities of peasant farmers, who combined their livestock in large transhumant herds, long before the livestock meetings ("mestas") organised by the great feudal lords and the Military Orders.
“Since ancient times, on either side of Gibraltar, on both shores of the Mediterranean, a single civilisation of peasant farmers and shepherds developed and prospered that, long before Romanisation, spoke Berber dialects, built their homes using the same techniques, tended to their flocks, managed their pastures in the Montado and spun their wool blankets using the same grammar of geometric motifs, carved wooden objects and painted hand-moulded or wheel-turned pottery.” (8)
The idiosyncrasies associated to the Montado landscape and its population are well known throughout Portugal, due to a number of characteristics for which this territory is clearly known, in particular, the local accent, culinary traditions, musical or vernacular heritage, and the association of the presence of the “chaparro” (a young cork-oak tree) in the landscape that has become the region’s iconic image.
Finally, in addition to its historical, cultural and economic value, the Montado also has exceptional aesthetic value, including filtered sunlight through the treetops of cork oak and holm oaks that permit life, the colours of the shrubland, with its changing hues during the different seasons of the year, the broad rolling landscape that superbly accentuates the silhouettes of the trees with extended and welcoming treetops and the incomparable night sky.
The proposed areas for delimiting this property assume a dimension of integrity that enables these areas to be represented, simultaneously, in terms of their diversity – with cork oak plantations and holm oak plantations or mixed plantations (adapted to various biophysical and biometric conditions) that correspond to different agro-forestry-pastoral combinations (predominance of cork or extensive grazing by Alentejan pigs, associated to other agricultural, grazing or forestry activities) –, while guaranteeing conditions of economic viability and environmental sustainability.
The cork production process, associated to the areas of cork oak plantation, reveals an economic vitality and competitiveness, based on progressively higher investment in innovation, technology and the product itself, thereby favouring control of the productivity of cork production compatible with preserving the multifunctional system, including maintenance of extensive livestock raising.
In the case of the area of holm oak plantation, this predominantly supports a very specific economic segment in this territory, related to the raising of free-range black pigs, for a niche market that satisfies the demand for black pork meat and smoked meat/sausages certified as products of a demarcated region.
The Montado system also has various ecosystem benefits, of varying dimensions — it retains water in the soil, captures carbon, enriches the soils, prevents fires and preserves biodiversity, thereby demonstrating its strategic environmental value, inclusively as a buffer zone against desertification caused by global climate change.
The fragilities of the system are related to the maintenance of human presence, which is linked to the profitability of the activities developed in the Montado, the quality of life offered to the local residents, ancestral skills relating to the handling and management of a multifunctional system (of recognised uniqueness), which are essential for the process of safeguarding the property.
The extension of the Montado tends to decrease due to a lack of vitality and natural regeneration of the trees. The various factors that explain this phenomenon include abandonment of the system, connected to population decline and abandonment of the activity due to lack of investment capacity; Common Agricultural Policies which are poorly adjusted to such systems, as reflected in the increase of EU financial incentives for the production of cattle, whose effect has been to increase the animal density in the areas of the Montado, associated to the substitution of indigenous breeds by other heavier and more impactful breeds; or the application of eco-constraints (Single European Payment Scheme) which leads producers to grade the soil in order to limit the growth of the herbaceous layer, thus undermining regeneration of the tree cover.
In order to ensure the viability of their productions, landowners and managers in the Montado are often faced with the dilemma of the adoption of strategies to intensify and specialise their agricultural, forestry or livestock-based productions, which will lead to the creation of imbalances in the multifunction system. Safeguarding the unique expertise underpinning management of the multi-functional nature of this system is essential to ensure a sustainable exploitation of resources, and may incorporate the opportunities offered by new recreation and leisure activities, renovated traditional productions (such as mushrooms, aromatic herbs and honey) that acquire acceptance in more demanding markets and open up numerous possibilities for persistence of this agro-forestry-pastoral model.
Protection of the Montado is enshrined in national legislation through protection of the cork oak and holm oak tree species (http: /www.icnf.pt/portal/florestas/gf/prdflo/mont/eno-leg) and as a natural habitat in the context of the Natura2000 network. The Montado is also subject to Decree-Law no. 169/2001, of 25 May, which establishes protective measures for cork oak and holm oak trees, and Decree-Law no. 155/2004, of 30 June, which amends Decree-Law no. 169/2001 of 25 May, and establishes protective measures for cork oak and holm oak trees and also the Normative Decree no. 2/2014. D.R. no. 20, 2nd Series of 29/01/2014, which implements the sixth amendment to the Normative Decree no. 7/2005 of 1 February, which establishes the minimum requirements for good agricultural and environmental conditions.
Due to its natural characteristics, the Montado is identified as one of the "natural and semi-natural habitats", in Annex I of the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC), one of the Directives that determined the transposition of Natura2000 network into Portuguese law, by means of Decree-Law no. 140/99 of 24 April, as amended by Decree-Law no. 49/2005 of 24/4 and the Sectorial Plan, approved in 2008, through publication of the Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 115-a / 2008 of 21 July. It is the habitat identified as "6310 Dehesas with evergreen Quercus spp." which exists in approximately 30 listed sites.
The challenges associated to management of the Heritage asset are focused on the set of attributes of this agro-forestry-pastoral system that endow it with its singularity and unique character and represent the basis for its inclusion in the category of Living and Evolving Cultural Landscape.
Considering the different attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, and also the dimensions of authenticity and integrity represented in the areas included in the proposed Heritage asset, the management model of the Montado Cultural Landscape assumes four essential principles: i) the economic and social vitality of the multifunctional system, in order to ensure the permanence of the local populations and the organisational and production structures which, in addition to other conditions, hold the necessary skills to ensure the sustainability of traditional economic activities; ii) preservation of the cultural heritage, based on the awareness and sharing of responsibilities between the various actors and communities, in order to safeguard, protect, interpret and disseminate the cultural values found in the zone, whether of a tangible or intangible nature; iii) enhancement of biodiversity, associated with recognition of the virtuous and unique relationship between the multifunctional production system and the integration of values of nature conservation and environmental quality, able to generate economic and social value, through the provision of services of the ecosystem; iv) toughening of territorial governance, guaranteed through an institutional solution that fosters increasing sharing of responsibilities and participation in decision-making, involving institutions, landowners and production managers, other economic and social agents and the general public.
An institutional solution for the management model of the Montado is required due to the multiplicity of stakeholders in its agro-forestry-pastoral system, including the different local and central government departments with responsibilities over the territory, the complexity of the system’s relations and the requirements in terms of compatibility of interests, perspectives, responsibilities and decision-making and operation (regulation and exploitation of resources) which are necessarily different. This institutional solution must guarantee, inter alia: direct involvement of the public and private sectors in management of the Heritage asset; closer coordination and cooperation, at a political and operational level, between the various sectors and different levels of government, including, if necessary, the delegation of powers, in order to ensure better rationalisation of public action in the territory; strengthening of cooperation in terms of decision-making and shared operations between the public authorities, private agents and local communities; sharing responsibilities and challenges associated to ensuring the sustainability of the system and its dissemination and interpretation amongst local communities and society in general (including the international community, visitors and tourists).
In this sense, there are plans to create a new associative entity, which will set up a partnership between the public and private sector, formalised by means of an inter-institutional cooperation agreement.
Among the functions that this entity is expected to guarantee, it must highlight: the creation, coordination and management of a monitoring system of the Cultural Landscape (with a system of indicators that will be capable of monitoring the dynamics and the evolution associated with the 6 zones included in the Heritage asset); the stimulation of all fields of cooperation to ensure a level and quality of governance suited to the challenges of conservation and sustainability of the Heritage asset; and guarantee of the formal and informal conditions, to ensure public participation and involvement of the local communities in the management and conservation process of the Living and Evolving Cultural Landscape.
Considering the need for a good dissemination of the presence and contacts of the institutional structure responsible for management with the local communities and the actors involved in the multifunctional production system Interpretive Centres of the Montado Cultural Landscape will be created. This Centres should include a dimension of interpretation of the landscape, which will support visitors and foster knowledge of the zone, and that should work bi-directionally, ensuring: i) the provision, sharing and attention to local communities, public and private agents involved and general audiences, providing information, knowledge, best practices and awareness; and ii) the collection, sharing and processing of information from the territorial zones, their communities, public and private agents, that intervene therein – at an institutional, economic, social and cultural levels–, visitors and tourists, wherein this information should be analysed, systematised, recorded and transmitted within the established landscape monitoring system framework, in order to be able to support decision-making.
7 Cancela d'Abreu. Alexandre D'Orey, PAISAGENS CULTURAIS DO MONTADO: Diversidade, Dinâmicas e Potencialidades, 2015.
8 Torres, Cláudio, Montado, 2015.
Comparison with other similar properties
We can compare the Montado Cultural Landscape with other cultural landscapes, including a number of properties inscribed in the World Heritage List and the Tentative Lists, in order to demonstrate the pertinence and relevance of it being listed as a classified landscape. In other words, this comparative exercise aims to confirm the elements that make it possible to distinguish the Montado from other landscapes and thereby justify its outstanding universal value.
The Montado Cultural Landscape has aspects that distinguish it from a number of other cultural landscapes, in which unique forms of interaction between man and nature have produced morphological alterations to the landscape or specific construction systems, that are essential for sustaining agricultural production and which have remained in operation until today. In the Montado Cultural Landscape, man has been able to adapt extensive areas of Mediterranean forest, with skeletal soils and very severe climatic conditions, making it habitable without relying on either alterations to its morphology or any other type of construction but, rather, by perfecting an organic and multifunctional management of the landscape – of its grasses, shrubs and trees, thereby achieving an enduring balance.
In Portugal, both in the case of the Alto Douro Wine Region, or the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture, man, in his adaptation of the land, that is poor in terms of resources and fertility, and in defence against the harsh climate, relied on inorganic materials to change its morphology. In the Alto Douro Wine Region, men built a monumental scenario of terraced vineyards that cascade down to the Douro River (a structural formwork for the land, in this inland valley landscape) using slate (the region’s main geological component). In the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture, in an island territory of volcanic origin, the settlers built a “gigantic structured network of walls” that form “currais” (small plots enclosed by stone walls), using rocks derived from volcanic debris.
In addition to these two cases and also within the Mediterranean area, the cultural landscape of Portovenere, Cinque Terre and Islands (Italy) also demonstrate man’s capacity to overcome the adverse conditions of the territory, in adapting steep cliffs overlooking the sea, through the construction of terraces to plant vineyards and olive groves. This agricultural landscape, shaped by man, accompanies a set of small and fortified coastal urban settlements and religious monuments (predominantly monasteries), built in the coast from the 12th century onwards, with emphasis on the cultural centre of Portovenere, which played an important role in Genoese trade routes. In the case of the cultural landscape of Stari Grand Plani (Croatia), although this is a fertile agricultural plain, man built a complex system in the 4th century B.C., in order to “organise the territory into geometric plots with walled borders, to make use of rainwater”, and this system has remained operational until today.
Compared to other cultural landscapes that also constitute pastoral, silvo-pastoral or agro-pastoral territories or with significant transhumance activity, one of the primary distinctive aspects of the Montado landscape – perhaps its main distinction – is the presence of a strong economic activity associated to trees, in particular extraction of cork. Moreover, amongst these European territories, which are marked by pasture land and historic vestiges of transhumance activity, particularly in the Mediterranean zone, only the Montado landscape testifies the influences of strong cultural interactions between the peoples of the Northern and Southern Mediterranean Basin.
The Cultural Landscape of Les Causses et Cévennes (France) reveals an important part of the typologies of Mediterranean landscapes associated to pasture land (agricultural or silvo-pastoral) and transhumance activity. However, this mountainous territory, subject to different climatic influences, where economic activities related to livestock raising have predominated since the medieval era, particularly the use of milk, leather and wool, cannot be deemed to be representative of the agro-silvo-pastoral system of the Montado landscape. It is also important to emphasise in this comparative analysis the huge size (302.319 ha) of this area inscribed in the World Heritage List, of which about 3/4 is owned by private landowners and the challenges therefore posed by a coordinated management model.
The Cultural Landscape The Transhumance: The Royal Shepherd's Track (registered in the Tentative List of Italy) shares with the Montado landscape the territorial extension of pastures in a Mediterranean area. Nevertheless, its unique character is demonstrated in the preservation of an extensive network of shepherd's tracks, which has been developed since the pre-Roman age and it is maintained to the present day.
As for the cultural landscape of Plasencia – Monfragüe – Trujillo: Mediterranean Landscape (registered in the Tentative List of Spain), most of the features associated to the agro-silvo-pastoral system of the dehesa are also found in the Montado landscape, but there is a distinction due to the importance assigned (in the Spanish proposal) to the heritage and historical significance of the urban clusters of Trujillo and Plasencia and, in the case of the Montado, the differentiation given by the presence of areas of cork oak plantation, of strong Atlantic influence.
In the cases of the pastoral cultural landscapes of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape (Mongolia) and the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (South Africa), one of the main aspects that distinguish them from the Montado Cultural Landscape is the persistence and preservation of nomadic cultures. In the Orkhon Valley, the nomadic culture, based on grazing activities, is historically associated to the development of “extensive trade networks and the creation of large administrative trade, military and religious centres” in this territory. In the case of Richtersveld, an extensive desert-like and mountainous territory, the activity of semi-nomadic subsistence grazing activities is carried out by an indigenous community – the Nama – which maintains various traditions and practices associated to the existing botanical riches.
The cultural landscape of the Pyrenees – Mont Perdu (France and Spain) is marked by classic geological formations, in an environment of steep mountains, with the presence of large gorges and escarpments, in addition to grasslands, lakes, caves and forests, with distinctly different grazing practices.
Within the other types of cultural landscape associated to the specific historical exploration and production (mono-production) of a product, the case of the Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape should be emphasised, with attributes of Outstanding Universal Value based on the adaptation of the local communities to the characteristics of a mountainous territory with sharp slopes, with difficult geographical conditions for exploration of a product, coffee, intended for the global market. In this case, the comparison with an area that is distributed across a number of different areas, which combine the key attributes of the landscape and the outlines of a shared management model, involving public and private actors, is of particular relevance.
Beyond the universe of World Heritage sites and Tentative Lists we find other areas of a Mediterranean climate that combine a balanced and sustained cover of the Quercus genus – including cork oak and holm oak trees – with herbaceous and/or shrub cover. Within the Mediterranean coast, the African continent (North Africa) harbours areas of cork oak woodlands, generally with a greater density of trees than that of the Montado, where some of these woodlands stand out due to the specific characteristics of their ownership systems and land and economic management systems – e.g. Maamora, Aguelmous and Hayouna, in Morocco; Iteimia, in Tunisia; and Akfadou, in Algeria.
Still within zones subject to a Mediterranean-like climate, but in the American continent, there are areas of oak savannah in California (USA) with landscape characteristics that are very similar to those of the Montado landscape, but in this case sustainability depends more on use of fire (controlled burns) than on the balance between economic use of its three components – trees, shrubs and grasses.