Events (27)

A field trip organized by the University of Göttingen (Germany), University of Hohenheim (Germany) and University of Évora visited our project on the 26th of March, 2017. The group of 18 students and 3 lecturers from the fields of Forestry Science and Geography got to know about the aims of the project, the Serra Estrela intervention site and also had the opportunity to plant yew saplings during the visit. This initiative was carried out in collaboration with the ICNF under the Post-LIFE programme of the project.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016 17:26

Layman's Report

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Environmental awareness and the dissemination of this project are of great importance. The purpose of the Layman's Report is to make known what has been done during the LIFE12 project NAT / PT / 000950 Taxus - Restoring yew thickets [9580 * Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods], as one of the greatest threats identified is the general lack of knowledge about The value of the Yew and the habitat "Mediterranean forests of Yew".

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 20:12

Commemoration of Native Forest Day

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Commemoration of Native Forest Day, 23'th of November – Educational Farm

Under the Life Taxus Project – Restoring yew thickets [9580 * Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods] and thanks to the partnership with Quercus, the Braga Educational Farm is hosting the Yew exhibition from 24 of April to 27 of May. Exhibition guided visits were made with the aim of raising awareness to the need of restoring and protecting mediterranean Yew woods (Taxus baccata). The exhibition was visited by 264 children.

Following this previous event we will be celebrating the Native Forest Day at the Educational Farm This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, 08 September 2016 13:57

78th Volta a Portugal

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“The LIFE Taxus Project was at the 6th stage BELMONTE – GUARDA of the 78th Volta a Portugal bicycle race. during the “Volta ao conhecimento” an initiative promoted by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, that happened on 3rd August 2016. This stage went through the Serra da Estrela, the highest point in Continental Portugalm, the location were LIFE TAXUS: Restoring yew forests actions are being carried out.

 This is what is done

Project LIFE TAXUS, with the contribution of the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Union, aims to intervene in yew thickets (Taxus baccata) a protected habitat typical of the banks of mountain watercourses, which are dominated by Yew and that also include other tree species. It is a habitat which is threatened by fire, logging, shepherding and invasive exotic species, and currently only occurs naturally in Peneda-Gerês and Serra da Estrela.

This is what is done here

The highest landscape of Serra da Estrela is made up by a mosaic of habitats, combining elements representing different biogeographical regions, and is for this reason the most emblematic area in Continental Portugal in terms of natural values associated with elevation. This is the case of the Yew species, which is currently very restricted and threatened in this region.

 This is what is done with you and for you

The project is coordinated by the Quercus Association with support from the ICNF and the VALORMED company. Scientific support for concrete actions of the project was assured by CEG – IGOTUL (Centre for Geographical Studies



The article published in Wilder - Wilder Series on Forest Carers - about the LIFE Taxus Project - Restoring Yew forests.

During this critical season for forests, marked by fires, we are not going to talk about burnt area nor will we try to explain the causes of this disaster. Instead, we want to show you Portuguese people who are caring for forests all year round. In this series, we will be talking with the leaders of some of the best projects in fire prevention and in enriching forests, and we will also here stories from citiziens who rolled up their sleeves to take care of trees. These are the Forest Carers.


It is in the Serra da Estrela and Gerês mountains were the last surviving Yew trees in Continental Portugal can be found, the oldest native trees of Europe. This team is planting thousands of new trees and is preparing these forests to the arrival of the fire.

Forest fires are one of the largest threats to the Yew (Taxus baccata), a tree which can survive up to 2,000 years and which was in the past abundant in Portugal. Nowadays it survives in the Gerês and Serra da Estrela mountains.

 “In 2005, a fire destroyed 79% of the largest nucleus of yew trees in Serra da Estrela” tell us Isabel Garcia-Cabral, the coordinator of Project LIFE Taxys – Restoring Yew forests (July 2013 to December 2016), under the responsibility of Quercus – the National Association for the Conservation of Nature – and cofinanced by the LIFE Nature Programme of the European Commission. For this reason, fire prevention is at the heart of the initiative, which is underway in 50 hectares of the Peneda-Gerês National Park (in the Gerês Mountain) and 15 hectares in the Serra da Estrela National Park (in the Zêzere River valley close to Manteigas).

 On the ground is the project team, made up by two people, in close collaboration with the forest firefighters and the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF).

 Most of the naturally occuring yew trees in Portugal are found in Gerês. “These trees grow close to watercourses, in valleys. They need shade and damp soil”, explains Isabel Garcia-Cabral. Here in the Gerês mountain, the project is maintaining and improving yew habitat in 50 hectares, in public land under the ownership of the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF). It is a management that aims to make these forests more resilient to fires. “We have been carrying out fire prevention actions, such as clearing combustible material and opening up fire-fighting tracks”, tells us the coordinator.

In Serra da Estreka there are fewer yew trees.  “These trees are isolated, almost extinct” tells us Isabel Garcia-Cabral. “The occur in a zone that is strongly affected by fires, Here we carry selective management of brush, in order to reduce fuel load, and an edge was planted around the yew thickets, to efend them from fire.

“As long as comubstible material is cleard and regular maintenance is carried in the forest, providing easy access, the fire does not spread as much and it is easier to deal with”, adds the LIFE Taxus coordinator.

 In this mountain the strategy goes a bit further then in the Gerês, “We selected 15 hectares to manage, to recover existing yew trees, but that's not all. We want to increase the area of occupancy of these yew thickets”, she adds. Until now 15,000 trees have already been planted in the 15 hectares, common land under the management of the forest firefighters.

 “Of these 15,000 trees, 40% are yew trees and the remaining 60% are companion species such as Common holly, pyrenean oak, pedunculate oak and rowan.” According to Isabel, these companion species support the yew trees, especially when they are young and very sensitive. “These species make up yew thickets and provide shaded and damp conditions that yews trees need to grow.”


“All of the planted trees come from seeds collected in Serra da Estrela and raised in the ICNF Malcata tree nursery, in Sabugal. We want to, at least, help Yews not to go extinc by increasing the numbert of plants in Serra da Estrela and by keeping the ones in Gerês.”

 In the end of June during this year, the technical team monitors the planted trees. “The percentage loss of yew trees is very low, less then 10%”, said Isabel.

 Helping a tree is essential, since yews have a very slow growth. “A yew plant can take up to 50 years to become an adult tree”, said Isabel, who knows about a yew tree in Serra da Estrela “who was close to 70 years old”. This is way, “when there are few plants, natural regeneration is very low”. And if to this we add fires, shepherding, forest misuse and climate change the scenario is the not optimistic.

 The fires in the last days have not reached the Serra da Estrela project's area, said Isabel. There isn't any information yet on the Gerês.

Monday, 18 July 2016 19:25


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The Iberian Workshop of the Project LIFE+LIFE12 NAT/PT/000950 Taxus – Restoring yew thickets [9580* Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods, will take place in the days 17 and 18 of June of 2016 in Manteigas - Portugal. The inscription is free and mandatory, until the day 10 of June of 2016, in Contact Us menu (

Local Information: C.M.M.


The “Mediterranean Taxus baccata woodsIberian Workshop carried out under the Project LIFE+ LIFE12 NAT/PT/000950 Taxus – Restoring yew thickets [9580* Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods] took place in Manteigas, at the   Civic Centre Auditorium of the Municipal Council. The event was organized in collaboration with the Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) and the Municipal Council of Manteigas. The workshop was attended by 66 participants.

This Workshop aimed to present the results of the Life Taxus project and to discuss the state of yew thickets in Continental Portugal. These ancient thickets in which Taxus baccata L. is the dominant or co-dominant species, are limited to small vegetation cores in mountainous areas, close to watercourses were the soil remains persistently humid. In some specific cases, yew thickets also occur at the bottom of the valley, in areas which are not directly effected by watercourses, but in which the soil humidity is kept high by temporary flooding.

Several papers were presented on areas of expertise related to “Mediterranean Yew Woods”, followed by a discussion on the need to preserve the habitats were Yews occur. This species is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and human activities. For these reasons the main goals of this project is to maintain the diversity of forests mosaics, improve existing areas and increase the area occupied by this species in Natura 2000 Network sites. Additionally, the workshop emphasised other attributes of the species such as the importance of the chemical properties of the species for the pharmaceutical industry in broad terms and also specifically on how it is used to produce cancer drugs.

Considering that the results of the activities of the project will have impacts beyond its duration, the workshop also discussed the need to create conditions and partnerships for a post-LIFE programme which would keep these activities going.

Monday, 13 June 2016 23:02

Exhibition in the Town Hall of Manteigas

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The interpretive exhibition of the project LIFE TAXUs "Restoring yew thickets 9580* - Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods" is open to the public in the Town Hall of Manteigas until the 20th of June alongside the IBERIAN WORKSHOP “Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods”.


Monday, 13 June 2016 22:54

Exhibition left the Educational Farm of Braga

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Over a thousand visitors, 1062, from the school community went to see the interpretive exhibition on habitat, species and actions, an activity project LIFE TAXUS—“Restoring yew thickets” [9580 *Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods] that opened to the public from 18 April and 27 May at the Educational Farm of Braga ( The exhibition is now at Manteigas town hall until 20 June alongside the IBERIAN WORKSHOP “Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods.



Thursday, 05 May 2016 14:33

The Zêzere Great Route

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On May 8 will be held in Manteigas the interpretive route "The Zêzere Great Route" 10 km from the Covão D'Ametade to Manteigas through yew plantation areas under the LIFE + Project LIFE12 NAT / E / 000950 Taxus - Restoring yew thickets [9580 * Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods]. An event in collaboration with the City of Manteigas and ICNF - PNSE.

On the 8th of May

 The Project LIFE Taxus - Restoring Taxus baccata woods [9580* Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods] and the Municipal Council of Manteigas did a field visit, on 8th of May, to the habitats of the upper River Zêzere. The meeting point was at 8:15 am in the Municipal Council of Manteigas, from where a group of 20 participants left by bus to Covão d'Ametade. Due to the adverse weather conditions the bus rode up to "Nave de Sto. António".

 On the way, Professor António Luís Crespi (Escola de Ciências da Vida e do Ambiente - UTAD) gave a talk on the geobotanical evolution of the Zêzere Valley and how Taxus baccata fits into this context. In addition, Engineer Rafael Neiva (ICNF) described the work which has been carried out in the intervention areas of project LIFE-Taxus and the significance of these efforts for the environmental management of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

 On the return trip, the group visited the Centro de Interpretação do Vale do Glaciar do Zêzere (CIVGLAZ), where a virtual flight was made over the Glacial Valley of the River Zêzere, simulating the glacial era 30.000 years ago, while narrating the events that led to the establishment of the glacier. In an exhibit within the fireplace of the old Forest Ranger's House, we saw a visual account of the history of this house and of the life of the forest rangers that watched over the mountain range and of the people who worked there as biologists, engineers and other field agents.

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Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza


LIFE12 NAT/PT/000950