Project Oasis

IAC has established a research campus on a greenfield site of 9.8 hectares (98,000 m2) in the Alentejo region of Portugal, located approximately 32 km from the city of Évora, near the village of Évoramonte. The property has 242 adult trees that have already been registered, a combination of cork oaks (Quercus suber) and holm oaks (Quercus rotundifolia).

In 2005 the IAC launched the Oasis Environmental Project (Project Oasis), which aims at reforestation of the campus and the conservation of biodiversity in the surrounding region, respecting natural regeneration and bringing about artificial regeneration, with the overall objective of increasing the abundance and health of the flora and fauna inhabiting the campus’ grounds.

  The United Nations declared 2008 the “International Year of Planet Earth” to increase awareness about the importance of the Earth sciences for achieving sustainable development. Approximately 44% of all vascular plants species and 35% of all species of the four main groups of land-dwelling vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) are confined to 25 hotspots of biodiversity that occupy only 1.4% of the entire Earth’s surface. Among these hotspots is the Mediterranean basin, with a significant part of that area being the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula (Myers et al. in Nature 2000), which includes the Alentejo region.

Approximately 20% of the Campus is a dedicated Natural Reserve, and the planting of indigenous species has already begun, ensuring that through this project IAC is making a contribution to the global project of preserving our planet.

Since the initiation of the project in 2005, the number of species of birds and mammals living on the campus grounds has increased significantly.  This is particularly so since the campus has placed a ban on hunting on its grounds, an activity that is otherwise popular with the local residents.

The Alentejo is composed of forest ecosystems dominated by the two most prevalent trees on the campus’ grounds, Cork Oaks and Holm Oaks. The Cork Oak woodland habitats are among the most rich in biodiversity in all of Europe, and regularly support more than 160 species of birds, 100 of which are nesting. On the campus it is still possible to find “threatened” and “vulnerable” animal species, such as the Wild Cat (Felis silvestris) and the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).  By preserving and enlarging the arboreal vegetation we are creating conditions so that wild animals such as these naturally nest and take refuge from local hunters.

Team And Implementation

Project Oasis is run by a permanent local staff, supported periodically through the participation of volunteers from various countries in Europe and the Americas. To ensure the best results, the team regularly solicits guidance from specialized environmental-preservation institutions, and also does its own bibliographic research.

The campus is a designated non-smoking environment, with the aim of raising awareness about prevention of diseases and also to minimize the risk of fires, which can be so devastating in the summer.
The campus recycles its own garbage, and does so in a manner that ensures that wastewater is reused through the WTP (wastewater treatment plant). Project Oasis thus takes action on a systemic level, which affects and benefits the entire region.

The project is grouped into a number of sub-projects:

1. GREEN PROJECT

  • Responsibility for maintenance and expansion of the oak woodlands.
  • Creation of new arboreal vegetation suitable for improving the soil, thus reducing and stopping erosion.
  • Promoting natural conditions for suitable nesting sites for animal species.
  • To contribute to the improvement of the ozone layer and the reduction of global warming.

2. WASTE

    • Responsibility in determining the appropriate destination of inorganic waste.
    • Implementation of selective and systematic collection of garbage for recycling.
    • Creation and use of a composting container.

3. WATER RESOURCES

    • Management of water through reuse of waste waters.
    • Harnessing and storage of rainwater by creating a small reservoir or lake.

4. SOLAR ENERGY

      • Harnessing energy through solar panels and other renewable sources.

 

Funding / Support

The climatic characteristics and height (orography) of the Iberian Peninsula interact in an extremely complex way that results in a variety of soils (edaphology). The interaction of those climatic characteristics with the soils and rocks (lithology) of the Iberian Peninsula is what results in its biophysical diversity.  The Pyrenees Mountains are a rugged natural barrier between Spain and France that have isolated animal populations and produced varieties that are indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula. The ecological value of the region can be measured by its multitude of habitats and diversity of living beings. The Mediterranean woods and brushlands are natural environments that contain a considerable wealth of flora and fauna, while also contributing to soil conservation and management of aquatic resources.

As a result of its position at the confluence of two bioclimatic regions, with a consequent heterogeneity of climate, the Alentejo region has extreme thermal oscillation, with heavy frosts and rains during the winter, and very dry summers with a burning heat.  These conditions limit the variety of plants that can survive in the region. Through laboratory analysis it was established that the soil at the IAC Campus also needs special care, due to its high acidity (pH (H20 5.4), phosphorus (P205 26.0ppm), and potassium (K20 83.0ppm), as well as the erosion that exists in some places. Intensive care and significant financial outlay are needed to ensure the health of trees and other plants in such conditions, with measures including irrigation systems, soil conditioning, proper fertilization, plant maintenance, and purchase of a greenhouse, among many others.

One of the goals set for the beginning of 2009 is the planting of 50 trees of various species:

    • Large evergreen trees as sound barrier along the road.
    • Shading trees.
    • Iberian Peninsula trees in danger of extinction.
    • Ornamental and landscape trees.
    • Winter fruit trees to facilitate the feeding of birds in that period.
    • Fruit trees.

To allow us to move faster with the project we greatly appreciate any financial contribution.

Contact Information

IAC Research Campus
Herdade da Marmeleira
EN 18, km. 236 – Cx. Postal 06
7100-500 Evoramonte – Estremoz
Portugal
(The N18 road between Evoramonte and Estremoz, at kilometer 236 – closer to Evoramonte)

Campus Coordinates

Latitude: N 38 47′ 46″
Longitude: W 07 41′ 10″

Telephone

+351 26 895 9148

Fax

+351 26 895 0053

Email

campus@iacworld.org

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us.

Regards,

The IAC Campus Team