Study Tour to Serra da Estrela Natural Park

November 18th, 2022

The Serra da Estrela Natural Park was the first to be created in Portugal and contains the largest protected area in the Country, with about 101,000 hectares. Its rugged topography with crags, rocks and imposing cliffs culminates in the highest point in mainland Portugal at an altitude of 1993m. The unique character of this area, its geographical isolation and the resulting diversity of fauna and flora species motivated the Serra da Estrela Natural Park international recognition by being included in UNESCO's Geopark network. Among its numerous natural charms, it stands out the largest glacial valley in Europe, in Manteigas, with an extension of approximately 13 kms.

The isolation of these lands also allowed the preservation of some of the most ancient social and cultural aspects of Portugal. Here we find large flocks of sheep that feed on the vast grazing areas, guarded by the typical Serra da Estrela Dog, a breed of dog that is powerful and resistant to low temperatures. The sheep's milk gives origin to the most characteristic product of the region, the famous Queijo da Serra (Mountain Cheese), handmade according to ancestral techniques. The coats made with sheep wool, the horned horns and a panoply of other interests, effectively make this region worthy of our study tour.

Last August, during a heat wave, Serra da Estrela was the stage for one of the largest fire events ever registered in Portugal. Among the approximately 27 thousand hectares of burnt area in seven days of active fire, a significant area of protected landscape was lost and the impacts on the ecosystem were devastating. Although the fire threatened several communities, the impacts on the wildland urban interface were minor, considering the size of the fire. Fortunately, there were no human casualties, but the ecological and social impacts were immense.

In this study tour, we intend to show some of the main charms of Serra da Estrela but also to understand fire behaviour in this event. We will visit some relevant areas of the fire, having the collaboration of several entities that participated directly in it.

As part of the "Zero Carbon Footprint" program, integrated into the ICFFR, during the Study Tour we intend to make a symbolic plantation of trees in the area of the fire, to compensate the carbon emissions associated with the Conference.

For more information on the Park visit

Photo by Goncalo Verdasca on Unsplash

Photo by André Ferreira on Unsplash

Photo by Luís Cardoso on Unsplash Photo by Luís Cardoso on Unsplash

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