LIFE Volunteer Escapes project

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The heritage of a Nature Conservation Project

Rota Vicentina was part of a pioneer nature conservation project – LIFE Volunteer Escapes – but we didn’t stop there!

This project, which involved various entities from north to south of Portugal, took place between 2018 and 2020 and its main objective was the involvement of medium to long term local volunteers in nature conservation and environmental awareness actions in each partners’ territory.

In the Southwest of Alentejo and Costa Vicentina, Rota Vicentina selected three pilot areas as a target for intervention:
Lombo do Asno – Alteirinhos, Zambujeira-do-Mar;
Malhão temporary ponds – Vila Nova de Milfontes;
Small area in Maria Vinagre – in Rogil.

These locations were specially chosen because they are part of Natura 2000 sites and specially important due to the presence of unique and endangered vegetation communities.

Malhão temporary ponds

In LIFE Volunteer Escapes, Rota Vicentina was able to involve five volunteers who promoted various nature conservation actions with the support of other spontaneous volunteers and also carried out, almost daily, the control and monitoring of invasive plants in our areas- pilot. Alongside this field work, also explored their creativity and created some didactic educational materials and games for activities in schools. These materials are still being used today in Environmental Awareness activities and are available to anyone who wants to purchase them for free.

This year, some activities were carried out in schools using some of these materials, that we consider as games – “Discover the Flora” and “The Invasion” – as they are an excellent way to show the plants that we are not always able to collect in the field on the previous day. Nevertheless, we always like to take some fresh plant samples for the kids to see and draw, as another way of getting to know them better.

It is essential to stimulate the curiosity about biodiversity conservation amongst the younger generations and bring their attention to the importance of getting to know our ecosystems, our plants and the animals that live here. They are very observant and quickly become little scientist-citizens with nothing escaping their eagle eyes when we go for a walk!
On the field, we have returned to our pilot areas and have nature conservation and environmental awareness actions, inviting the community to participate by including these actions in the volunteer calendar.

We cannot act throughout all the Natural Park, nor along the Fisherman’s Trail, but we feel the need to intervene in areas where the native vegetation is threatened, as well as the need to raise awareness about this issue, motivating everyone to act and support us in this mission. We took the first step with the Life Volunteer Escapes project and we want to continue on this path leaving a positive footprint with our conservation actions.


Leonor Pires

Graduated in Landscape Architecture, she has always been connected to Nature. Leonor loves plants, music, crafts, drawing and walking. The Alentejo is your home.

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