6/24/2019 | Energy and Environment

"It's always good to return to the places where we left our mark."

After two years, Galp volunteers returned to Serra do Açor to "reap" the fruits planted in that area in the beginning of the Terra de Esperança initiative, in 2017.

In 2017, a great calamity devastated the country, in the shape of several forest fires which covered an area of around 1 087 300 acres of forests and villages, an area that was four times higher than the average burnt area of the previous ten years. The forests and lives lost required a social emergency response, and Galp, along with ANEFA, created the biggest environmental volunteering initiative in the country, Terra de Esperança. So far, over 80 000 trees have already been planted and over 185 acres have been reforested.

Serra do Açor was one of the most devastated areas and it was the location chosen for one of the first actions of the project. After two years, several reforestation actions have taken place during that time linked to the project. The last one took place on this year’s 19th June, when a group of volunteers from the Sines Refinery returned to Serra do Açor, where one of the first actions took place, to observe the fruit of their labour.

“It was wonderful to see that the trees we planted a year and a half ago were all healthy and and growing well.”, says Vítor Machado, a member of the Personnel Management of the Sines Refinery.

To Vítor, the time has flown by and it felt like yesterday when two buses left Sines with around 80 Volunteers to join many more colleagues from all departments and areas of the company.

´”By the end of the day, Serra do Açor already had an additional 8000 oak trees and chestnut trees, and we returned to Sines feeling like we had provided a small contribution to the sustainability of that area, which also became our own”.

Pedro Pinela, who also works at the Sines Refinery, shares the same sentiment towards the mission and tell us about the benefits of these rainy Summer days.

“It's always good to return to the places where we left our mark and our commitment. We planted the trees when the soil was still warm and we can see how they have grown and feel the sense of fulfilment and mutual aid. Besides, the rain has blessed us again, a sign of hope and future for that area so devasted by the fires. We hope the cultural changes implemented expand and pay off. We want to return in order to continue this mission."

Vítor also highlights the investment done by the parish council in restoring not only the forests but also the conditions of the village, which were highly affected by the 2017 fires.

“(…) the parish council itself (Mr. José Costa) is also doing amazing work in restoring and creating new leisure and support facilities for the village. I would highlight the project to create a goat herd to clear the woods and produce milk to create a dairy farm, which is expected to result in job creation.”

“We will never thank Galp enough for granting us the opportunity to verify first-hand that our joint effort had the intended success and that actions like these prove our company is a company with a capital G!”, he concludes with a sentiment of gratitude and motivation to continue this Hopeful mission.