Local context of the volunteering
Being in Madeira inspired me to write multiple blogs about it. We got to know about the different Laurel trees in the Laurasilva forest through our Chão da Ribeira hike story. Through some real life examples from digital nomads in the community we got to know how as digital nomad you can help the local community. The latter leads us to today’s story how some trees were planted in the Madeira Island. One of recommendations of how you can help the local community was to do “Labor as sport activity”. Well here is a story about our volunteering with the ecology association “Amigos do Parque”.
Ecology association Amigos do Parque
For a while I have been enjoying the “Amigos do Parque” posts, always filled with passion, curious facts about Madeira’s indigenous species, nature and the eco-system as a whole. The association has been active since July, 1996, they have multiple books published about Madeira. In between those posts there was an open call for volunteers to plant trees. Having in mind the nature of what we do this was godsend, I enrolled immediately. Done, the sport activity was sorted for the weekend.
Amigos do Parque have open call for volunteering twice a month on different locations. You can check their program for 2022 here. Sometimes the transport is included, sometimes the volunteers need to arrange it for themselves. The activity I attended was on the road to Pico Arreiro.
Our volunteering journey started in front of the Madeira Wine Museum, the meeting point for the organised bus. This reminded me a bit of my school days. The volunteers were mix of some old association members, some locals, some newbies like me, some members of other organisations. I got to meet quite a bunch of interesting people.
It wouldn’t be Portugal if we did not stop to take the daily coffee dose. A short break was due on the way to Pico Arreiro and the ecology camp. The weather was foggy, cold with mist around us. Let’s say some of us (including me) were not prepared for the damp weather, we god carried away by the sun in the past days.
The amazing work done ( some trees planted in the Madeira Island )
As soon as we arrived, Raimundo Quintal gave us an overview of their activities. We, the volunteers divided into two groups. Unfortunately I ended up in the one that did not plant trees. Our goal was to clean the area around the trees from invasive species that are slowing the growth of the native species. Root by root, with the hoes we started digging out the unwanted plants.
The area where we were working was heavily destroyed by fires in the past. The goal of Amigos do Parque is to create environment in which the native plants will thrive. And in the future the native to overpower the invasive ones. Amigos work and willingness to achieve this surprised me. They plant bushes that retain water to thrive in symbiosis with the laurel trees. The idea is the laurels to use that water and grow faster.
We laid the dig out plants on tree trunks to form a “dam” that will retain the rain water and become compost that will enrich the
nutrients for the soil.
Networking with fellow volunteers
Together with me in the weed digging crew were Evangelina Sirgado Sousa amigos official photograph, Virgilio and the volunteers from “Teatro Metaphora”. An art association that works in environmental sustainability, natural heritage, recycling, climate change and environmental best practices topics. I gave them some instructions about how to use the hoe, check their blog post.
There is no planting activity without me in the Treebanks hoodie. We wrapped up the work with hot herbal tea and Azores blueberry (Uva da Serra) jam.
The other team planted some trees in different area of the park and continued their mission trees to be planted in the Madeira Island. Here are some photos of their activity. I hope next time I will plant some trees too.
Everything went great with my first volunteering in Madeira. At the way back in the bus we finished the trip with songs.
How to do impact while nomading
To wrap up, if you are nomading around the world and you want to do things that have social impact to the local community you can always turn your workout into giving volunteering labor. For more ideas how to do impact check our old post. If your in Madeira do not forget to check “Amigos to Parque” and “Teatro Metaphora” they are the best starting point.