Quinta do Pisão – Nature Park

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  • Type of protection:
    Natura 2000 Network / Natural Park Sintra-Cascais

Quinta do Pisão is part of the Sintra-Cascais Park. In 2007, it was transformed from an abandoned agricultural land into an attractive park, as well as a working farm. Ecological restoration focuses on the historical legacy of this rural landscape and includes natural grazing. Nature based tourism and production of local products is part of the project. It currently attracts around 2,000 people each month, mostly coming from the nearby Lisbon metropolitan area.

Natural grazing by horses


  • Habitat types: 9240 - Quercus faginea and Quercus canariensis Iberian woods<br /> 5330 - Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub<br /> 5530pt3 - Arbutus woodland<br /> 5330pt4 - Quercus lusitânica brushwood<br /> 5330pt5 - Quercus coccifera, asparagus and similar basophyllous shrubs<br /> 5330pt7 - Limestone low scrubland<br /> 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (*important orchid sites)<br /> 9330 - Quercus suber forests<br /> 4030 - European dry heaths / 4030pt3 - Mediterranean gorse and heathland non-coastal grasses <br /> 91B0 - Thermophilous Fraxinus angustifolia woods<br /> 91F0 - Riparian mixed forests of Quercus robur, Ulmus laevis and Ulmus minor, Fraxinus excelsior or Fraxinus angustifolia, along the great rivers (Ulmenion minoris)<br /> 6410 - Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae) / 6410pt4 - Rushes with Juncus valvatus var. valvatus (portuguese endemism)<br /> 92A0 - Salix alba and Populus alba galleries
  • Keystone species present: European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Carnivorous animals: Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Weasel (Mustela nivalis), Stone Marten (Martes foina), European Badger (Meles meles), Common Genet (Genetta genetta), Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon)
  • Fauna species reintroduced: Native Campaniça sheep breed (90); Autochthonous Miranda donkey breed (16); Lusitano horse breed (2) / Cross breed horses (8)
  • Vegetation types present: Holm oak woods, Kermes Oak shrubs, Portuguese Oak woods, Lusitanian Oak formation, Ash woods, Rushes with Juncus valvatus var. valvatus (portuguese endemism), Arbutus woodland, Brachypodium meadows, Wet meadows, Vivacious nitrogen meadows, Olive-leaf willow woodland, Blackthorn hedge, Brushwood, Cork oak forests, Gorses with Ulex jussiaei, Heath gorses (with Ulex densus), Wych elm woods, Open woodlands of wild olive


  • Description: Included in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and being part of Natura 2000, Quinta do Pisão is a landscape restoration project focused in reintroducing sustainable farming and close-to-nature forestry as the main strategies for habitat restoration. The park has free entrance for visitors, allowing them to experience several forms of recreation.
  • Aim: Key-points:<br /> • Recover and restore the landscape mosaic<br /> • Preservation and restoration of natural habitats<br /> • Traditional, extensive and organic farming activities<br /> • Historical heritage recovery<br /> • Opening of the Park Interpretation Center in December 2017<br /> • Porto Covo cave preservation
  • Vision: A living landscape where nature and human activities interact in harmony, promoting and providing services for both the community and visitors. A place where nature re-establishes its natural dynamics and enhances nature tourism.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: We foresee a landscape mosaic of oak forest, natural grassland and scrub land, maintained by free herds of native sheep, Sorraia Horses and Miranda donkeys. The park, recognised for its natural values and visited for nature and educational purposes, will be a national wide best practice case for land management in peri-urban areas.
  • Uniqueness: In the metropolitan area of Lisbon, the capital and the largest city of Portugal, Quinta do Pisão represents a semi-wild area where nature finds its way through the natural process of recovery, and where biological diversity gains a new dimension with endangered habitat/species being fully recovered and protected. Man and nature are working together and helping each other to maintain a living landscape.
  • Results so far: We made a wide survey of the fauna and flora reference situation and foresee the potential for habitat/species recovery. All this information can be found in the Biodiversity Management Plan. <br /> So far 55 Ha of natural pastures have been recovered, reintroducing grazing for habitat management with native domestic species, such as donkeys, horses and sheep. <br /> We have started to convert the fast growing eucalyptus forest into natural oak forest, (25 Ha so far) and established goals for each park area in terms of ecosystem output. In addition, we have been concentrating in fighting alien invasive species for flora mainly but in the future also for fresh water fauna. <br /> We have gained support from the community and raised awareness about the project and its goals, resulting in increasing number of visitors in the park, as well as in nature activities, workshops, trekking, donkey and horse riding. We can notice the communities’ support and recognition.<br /> We started an organic vegetable garden, where visitors can interact and “pick their own crops” in a mix of recreational, educational and functional activity at the same time as they learn about organic farming.<br /> A lavender field was already planted, and more will follow to promote bees and other pollinators. An educational apiary is already working and the honey production, supported by local beekeepers is expected to be in full during 2017.
  • Flagship species: Other
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Other, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products


  • Inspirational value: The project is a fine example of how to take up the challenge of an abandoned and vandalised landscape and to give it back its value by allowing nature and local grazing species to come back. Being closely located near a capital city gives urban visitors a sense of the historical and natural past.
  • Experience you would like to share: We started from scratch, with no budget, no human recourses and no detailed knowledge about the place. It is a step by step process in which we are always looking for a better solution that will enhance our work and the community recognition. <br /> To make this project a success we needed to gain control of the property, and this was our major obstacle. For 4 years we fought against illegal hunters, all-terrain vehicle drivers, illegal dumping and so on. Only after solving those problems we could go on with developing the project. We started working with the farm animals like the sheep, donkeys and horses, reseeded pastures, planted native trees, shrubs and reactivated the landscape. <br /> The community naturally started to come and look inside the park, asking what was going on. By then, we knew we got their attention. That was a small but a very important victory. People remembered how this land looked before and how it was managed and they associated it with our work. <br /> We want to re-establish the natural processes in the park, and we can do it only with the local community recognition and support and for doing so we need to think about how can they interact and “live” the landscape.
  • Experience you would like to gain: Considering the past 10 years of work, we know that we still have a long way to go. Our major concern is the impact of visitors to the park which we have recently started monitoring. However, we certainly need to learn more about it, and readjust the park management to minimise negative impacts on wildlife. Since we have no experience in this particular issue, all the information and best case studies are welcome. We also would like to gain more experience about fund raising activities, engaging the community and communication strategies.<br /> Other and more technical questions are about monitoring and surveys on herd impact in scrub land and particular habitats such as orchids and how to find the right balance to avoid overgrazing even if the herd runs freely in the landscape.


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