1. Who are you (name, job) and can you tell us a bit about the structure in which you work (area of intervention, physical and and typical context of plantation, operating system, ground…) ?
My name is Marta and I am a biologist, and I enjoy working with plants and with people. I was born in Porto and I work in the Porto region (the metropolitan area). Six years ago, a number of people and organisations set up FUTURO – a project to plant 100,000 trees in the Porto metropolitan area. This is a project that I am very proud to have helped to start and to grow.
Through this project we aim at introducing ecological restoration of our landscape (which is suffering because of too many invasive species of plant, eucalyptus, lack of management, fires, neglect, and under-use). We have already taken action in 246 sites over 185 hectares and through this process we have planted over 98,000 native trees over the past six years, in partnership with hundreds of technicians and workers and thousands of citizens.
2. Have you always wished to become a planter? How did this job come to your mind ?
No, I had no idea that I would become a “planter”. I didn’t go looking for this job, it found me 🙂 What I did between 2003 and 2010, at University, was to collaborate in strategic studies in the Porto region and these always came to the same conclusion, that we would need to involve citizens, public authorities, and private owners, among others, in the restoration of our landscape. I didn’t look for an answer. That came from the community. And the only thing I did was help the working network to get started and to do things that have an impact on the landscape and the people.
3. Can you tell us the greatest natural experience you experimented ?
A proper walk in a forest, one where we can be dazzled each moment by the diversity, the smells, the climate, the sounds, the colours, the shapes, the patterns in nature… It is always a unique experience. After a week of work tension builds up in our muscles, much more so than we are aware of, but after a half-hour walk in a forest this pressure disappears. It is difficult to explain but we feel that the rib cage is lighter and more open, and our minds lift up to the height of the leaves, to the tops of the trees and the depths of the roots… When it comes to an end I feel “renewed” “On our own, we go fast. Together, we go farther”.
4. You work with hundreds of volunteers, what does it bring to you ?
The volunteers on the FUTURO project are extraordinary: their willingness, generosity, determination and selflessness bring so much energy to the project and without a doubt this is what keeps it alive. I have learnt so much from the FUTURO volunteers (about plants as well as about people) and I have made new and good friends.
5. Any message or particular anecdote you want to share with us ?
I see the FUTURO project as a kind of blessing that has been given to me: the right time has come for me to leave my cocoon and fly with my own wings; I have found a new direction in life at a time of so many doubts; through the trees I am learning essential skills such as resilience (adapting), generosity (unconditional giving), letting go (shedding old leaves so that new ones can grow), and more.