Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Historical development of the Portuguese forest: the introduction of invasive species.

Abstract

Portugal is a country with a territorial dimension of approximately 90,000 km2. However, the forest occupies a prominent position, since it represents about 35% of the total area of the country. Portuguese people always had a very close connection with the forest, which has provided the necessary resources for the development of its communities. The geological substratum of continental Portugal is very old and may therefore have witnessed the evolution of its plants, from the early beginning to the present time, as well as all sort of historical and environmental landmarks such as glacial periods or mass extinctions. Also, from the perspective of human occupation, Portuguese territory was crossed by hunter-gatherer populations who, initially, were constantly moving and looking for sustenance, but at a later stage, chose to settle. This relationship between human populations and the forest is, thus, very old and demonstrates the interdependence between the subsistence of the populations and the resources exploitation. Currently, the main national economic groups are based on forest industries, which depend directly on the exploitation of the three dominant species, Eucalyptus globulus Labill., Pinus pinaster Aiton and Quercus suber L., demonstrating the human role in the development of the forest, motivated by the satisfaction of its needs. This work reviews the historical development of the forest in mainland Portugal, from geological times to the present, including the arrival of exotic species that later acquired invasive behaviors and now occupy significant areas of the national territory.