Written by Christopher Nye,
Last Modified: 3rd March 2022

A new project funded largely by Ryanair’s passengers is helping to rewild a part of the Algarve blighted by forest fires. It’s all good news for the local Algarve wildlife, countryside and its residents.

Just a few miles inland from the beaches of the Algarve, a bold and exciting new ecological project is creating a country paradise, with the help of the local expat population. Renature Monchique was born out of a forest fire that swept the Serra de Monchique in 2018 destroying around 28,000 hectares (110 square miles) of pristine forest.

Helped by €250,000 per year from Ryanair as part of its carbon off-setting programme, the scheme is helping landowners to rebuild their lives there.

Some 200,000 indigenous trees have been planted so far, particularly oaks. For the local population, a natural wilderness is being created for those who like a walk in the woods as an alternative to a day on the golf course.

Monchique has become a popular area for residents from overseas, particularly those retiring to Portugal, tempted by the cooling mountain air and endless days of sunshine.

You can check out some property for sale in Monchique here. Country properties go from as little as €60,000 for a renovation project, yet they can be as little as a 20 minutes drive or bus ride from the Algarve beaches.

Monchique, close to the beaches of the Algarve

Good news for Algarve nature

The area is now recovering as a haven for wildlife, with birdlife including storks, tawny owls, golden eagles and vultures. On the ground you’ll find foxes, deer and there are hopes to see the Iberian lynx returning to the region soon.

You can find out more about Renature Monchique online. It offers scope for energetic retirees to make friends locally, get to know their local area and make a difference too. Contact the co-ordinator GEOTA via Facebook. Even Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary helps to wield a spade on occasions.

You might be surprised to know that Portugal has just one national park, the Peneda-Geres National Park in the far north-east of the country. However, there are plenty of ‘natural parks’ including two close to the Algarve.

Find homes in Algarve via our property portal.

Ria Formosa is a series of barrier islands close to the lively town of Tavira. It’s the kind of wildlife haven where you can also enjoy a day on the beach too, then retire to a lively bar in the evening.

Over on the western coast is the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, offering endless Atlantic beaches without the crowds of the central Algarve.

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