Serra da Estrela
In 1989 Serra da Estrela became my second enchanted place in the world, after I had first experienced a similar landscape in Central France: les Monts du Forez. That landscape and the people that try to manage are under pressure of the modern developments. One of the biggest problems is abandonment. You city folks, please listen e.g. to Jean Ferrat’s song "La Montagne" , written already more than 40 years ago http://www.paroles.net/chansons/18724.htm
or have a look at "Être et avoir", a movie of Nicolas Philibert and you know what I mean.. http://chipsquaw.free.fr/etreetavoir/
I am from a man-made country. You might know the expression: God created the earth, but Holland was created by the Dutch. I seek to live in harmony with the earth. In modern Holland this is difficult.
In the mid-eighties in les Monts du Forez as an ecologist I entered a world of poetry and tradition in an old cultural landscape. Wild flowers, birds, haymeadows and cascades were my allies. http://www.parc-livradois-forez.org/index.php4
Then in the nineties I started to study wild flowers in Serra da Estrela, http://pan.cultland.org/cultbase/?document_id=304
This was a profound adventure that still has not ended. The nutrient-poor land and the way the local people lived so proudly! A similar austerity and Atlantic mystery is described by Célia Igreja in her story on Arga mountain or in much of the music from MadreDeus: e.g. As Montanhas (instrumental).
I could hardly imagine a bigger contrast with the obese Dutch countryside and its polluted soils, waters and atmosphere.
During many trips through the endless varied landscape of Estrela I saw hundreds of biotopes and found many new species to the flora of Portugal.
If you like wild flowers and cultural landscapes please step into the time-machine and visit the beautiful Star Mountain where you can still enjoy one of the last living examples of traditional heathland culture in Europe.
Jan Jansen, The Netherlands
1. Campo Romão with rye field patterns.
2. Atlantic mood over Lagoa Comprida
3. Rainbow at Penhas Douradas with Echinospartum hedgehog scrub.
Herdered sheep and goats grazing on fallow land
Fields of Demeter and haunts of Pan
Eerica australis and Cytisus oromediterraneus flowering by the end of May
Nardus pastures at Covaõ do Boi, partly covered with snow
Natural discharge pattern in Nardus pasture
Mosaic of Juniperus mato and therophytic and xerophytic summit grasslands
Juniperus mato protected from cold by snow cover