Let Nature Recover

Stable-minded and inspirational, Nuno has always lived his life according to his beliefs and ideologies.

Nuno Carvalho, an enterprising environmentalist who lives in Odeceixe, is involved in many projects in the area. He is passionate about them all and leads an active life. Managing an educational project for all ages on his land near Rogil occupies much of his time. However, he is also the president of the Re-Wilding Sudoeste association (RWSW), a founder and active participant of the Cooperativa Integral in Rogil and a dedicated member of Juntos Pelo Sudoeste, a campaign to protect the natural park of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast. 

“From a very young age, I’ve loved and been fascinated by the natural world,” says Nuno. “I was born in Guimarães, the original capital of Portugal, and I grew up in Braga. Attending the University of Trás-os Montes e Alto-Douro, I gained a degree in environmental engineering and a Master’s in land planning, science communication and education,” Nuno explains. “Whilst at university, my main focus was on forestry and nature conservation. I became the vice president of the university’s Environmental Association in my first years, which included the wildlife recovery centre.”

Nuno subsequently started working with local schools, introducing the concepts of recycling and promoting empathy for animals and nature. He helped the children understand the need to look after our world. “I was young but already on my rightful path, and today having progressed immensely, I am still on that same path,” he affirms.

In 2004, Nuno studied photography and art at an Erasmus college in Poland and then lived in Berlin, working with photography and nature. “In Germany, I discovered that observing the landscape around us, with its changing colours and shapes throughout the different seasons, can be a valuable tool for learning about the environment,” he points out.

Later in 2006, Nuno went to Curitiba in Brazil for a year to work and study, and he taught at the school for Free Environment. One of Nuno’s teachers was the mayor of Curitiba, Jaime Lerner. This city was an example of superb land planning, and under this mayor’s jurisdiction, the slums disappeared. Enormous deteriorated areas were transformed into green parks. Having learnt a lot from this experience, Nuno came back to Portugal, residing in Lisbon. For three years, he worked in the landscape architect’s office. He then went to the education department of the Botanical Gardens. There, he was involved in an EU project which aimed to supply teachers with tools to teach sciences through active learning methods.

Continuing his academic career, Nuno then became a coordinator in the Science Museum in Lisbon – Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Ciência Viva. He was in charge of a team of 70 educators for over three years, where his work involved planning exhibitions and liaising with schools.

In 2018, in need of country life, he moved to Odeceixe and bought land in Rogil. Driven to continue in the same vocation and to work for himself, Nuno set up an independent, alternative education centre, Quinta da Corema.

This educational project encourages children to appreciate the environment and educates them about the natural world. There is an emphasis on outdoor education’s fundamental value, and the school promotes sustainable agricultural development. “Our educational programmes are for all ages,” Nuno points out. “We run workshops not only for children but also for adults. Additionally, we offer weekend courses for families and specialised classes for adults.”

Purposeful and dynamic, Nuno is motivated by his core beliefs and values. Everything he does is intertwined and related to his ethics and convictions. “As president of the RWSW, I am busy with work linked to my school’s ideologies and teachings, “ he explains.

“Rewilding is the non-profit making ecological restoration of the natural world. It is the process of rehabilitating areas of land to their organic state. Humans have messed around with nature, and we are remedying that damage by gently restoring our relationship with the wilderness.”

RWSW aims to allow the wilderness to reclaim its processes and to help it recover its systems and dynamics.

“We are in the south of Europe, so it is warm, but we are also next to the sea, which means we get the moisture from the ocean. The humidity levels are extraordinarily unique, resulting in the frequent discovery of new species. When this happens, we contact universities, who send people to study them more closely to learn why they are here, determine if there is a genetic link to other plants in the area, and document them. It’s fascinating and exhilarating to be doing this kind of work,” Nuno exclaims. 

Juntos Pelo Sudoeste and Nuno’s dedicated involvement also corresponds to his principles. JPS is a movement of citizens from Odemira and Aljezur concerned with advancing intensive agriculture in the coastal strip from Sines to Burgau, the natural park. It is an area of 100 kilometres and 131,00 hectares, and in recent years there has been an advancement of uncontrolled crops covered by kilometres upon kilometres of plastic greenhouses. “This area, until recently, was one of the most untouched coasts in Europe, but now the greenhouses are rapidly taking over the beautiful landscapes. They damage an important ecosystem where diversity of flora and fauna exist exclusive to this region,” laments Nuno.

“JPS has been in place since 2018 and is concerned that this intensive agricultural industry is negatively impacting nature conservation, water usage and social and economic structures.”

Nuno is one of the ten founding members of the Cooperativa Integral, created at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020. Its headquarters are in Rogil, and its purpose is to connect growers of fruit and vegetables with buyers. It consists of a shop selling local produce, a vegan restaurant with a cafe for people who want to work online and storage space in Barão Sao João. Cecília, a former ballerina who is also a founding member, runs the shop. “We aim to help the local producers as much as possible and enable a circular economy. We have recently introduced our own coin, backed up by money in the bank. It is still in an experimental stage, but we intend to utilise it more widely,” explains Cecília. The high-quality food and produce attract many customers. A bustling, lively atmosphere also draws online workers who can be more productive in this environment. “To strengthen and build the co-operative, we would like to increase the number of members and encourage new producers,” expresses Cecília.

A keen ocean swimmer, the purposeful and articulate Nuno has positive plans for the future. “We need ideologies to drive the necessary changes in society. My long-term plan is to collaborate with the Câmara and other institutions to open up a public space where like-minded people with the same goals can meet. The aim would be that we all work together to help connect with nature again, promote biodiversity, and encourage everyone to live lives that lessen their contribution to climate change.”


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