The aim of the present Review is to discuss the main factors responsible by deforestation in the mainland since the beginning of the XII century until the end of the XX century emphasizing the shipbuilding activities during the maritime expansion in the XV century. Initially, the harvested wood mainly from forests located along the coastline was sufficient to support internal consumption, but it soon became necessary to import wood from Northern Europe and from recent discovered territories such as Brazil, Azores and Madeira Islands. The royal laws to protect the forests were at the same time contradicted by Regia orders that encouraged the building of ships, to support the maritime trade and revenues for the crown. In the eighteenth century the highest degree of deforestation was reached and the data from the XIX century showed that imports of wood are between 4 and 6.7 times higher than exports. Moreover, in the early nineteenth century (1801) the population was near 3 million inhabitants, while in 1900 it was 5 million. The introduction of the Forestry Regime in the early twentieth century and the Forest Settlement Plan in 1938 reversed deforestation. According to the latest National Forest Inventory (2005- 2006), the mainland forest occupies about 39% of the total area, with dominance of cluster pine, the Tasmanian blue gum and cork oak. Portugal is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cork and a major exporter of pulp and paper (based on Eucalyptus globulus), both of which are extremely valuable contributions to the national economy and GDP.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2012|