© Montis

Pilot Action A.06

Crowdsourcing for private land conservation

Short summary of the mechanism

There is a strong process of land abandonment in rural Portugal (as in many other peripheral
regions in Europe, namely those with production handicaps). The idea of this pilot action is to create contractual agreements on land management between conservation organisations on the one hand, and private landowners as well as to help the landowners carry out the agreements on their land by providing a pool of resources (“crowdsourcing”), which is then made available to them: funds, volunteer workforce, technical advice, know-how from peers.

Description/objective of the model/tool

The idea of this pilot action is twofold:

  1. To establish contractual agreements on land management between conservation organisations on the one hand, and private landowners (e.g. forest companies or individuals) or municipal landowners on the other. The key aspect is that, taken together, these agreements cover a wide but coherent territory, so that instead of dispersed activities scattered over isolated parcels of land, a whole landscape is tackled comprehensively. The purpose of the agreements is to achieve a win-win situation in which a combination of social, economic and conservation benefits are generated by appropriate private land management.
  2. To support landowners and conservation organizations carry out the agreements on their land by providing a pool of needed resources, by means of “crowdsourcing”, which is then made available to them (e.g. access to funds, volunteer workforce, technical advice, know-how from peers).
Method/legal basis

Given that the current legal setting only allows to establish contractual agreements that do not account for long-term servitudes, pilot works of the action will focus on improving the use of the existing legal framework to establish new contractual agreements. Experience from other project partners and from international cases (e.g. those from Chile and Canada) will be used to assess how improvements can be made and identify which are the shortcomings and opportunities for post-project works concerning this target.


According to a recent definition from researchers at the Technical University of Valencia, "crowdsourcing is a type of participative activity in which an individual, an institution, a nonprofit organization, or company proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via a flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task. The undertaking of the task; of variable complexity and modularity, and; in which the crowd should participate, bringing their work, money, knowledge and/or experience, always entails mutual benefit. The user will receive the satisfaction of a given type of need, be it economic, social recognition, self-esteem, or the development of individual skills, while the crowdsourcer will obtain and use to their advantage that which the user has brought to the venture, whose form will depend on the type of activity undertaken".

MONTIS will use crowdsourcing having for aim:

  • voluntary field conservation work, through specific target audiences (academic/college students; small and medium enterprise workers/collaborators; and possibly, members of third sector organizations). Bi-monthly volunteering programs (including international work camps and by-monthly volunteering will be deployed with these new target audiences);
  • voluntary desktop work, directed at its members, on specific skills/tasks that are needed to undertake conservation (e.g. on diversification of funding applications to a wider range of available mechanisms, communication, capacitation and engagement of stakeholders, technical support to landowners …), whenever needed and in matters for which previous availability from members has been shown;
  • funding of new land acquisition and/or management of land through online crowdfunding mechanisms, having for prior basis the use of one of the national crowdfunding platforms;
  • establishment of Cooperation Protocols for technical advice with firms, on specific technical matters for which internal capacity needs to be improved (e.g. on law counselling).
Stakeholders involved

The pilot works involve collaboration with several stakeholders, including:

  • business organizations, and individual businesses, to engage on capacity building, corporate volunteering works and possibly in land conservation contractual agreements. Engagement works focusing this audience starting early in May and involved the Portuguese branch from the Business Council for Sustainable Development (https://www.bcsdportugal.org/), initial pilot volunteering activities took place already with local SME’s (e.g. Voltalia, http://www.voltalia.com/) and new contractual agreements have been established in the with Herdade do Freixo do Meio https://www.herdadedofreixodomeio.pt/);
  •  firms with strong technical ability to support internal needs, including establishment of advice and cooperation protocols (e.g. on law counselling, with the lawyer firm Vieira de Almeida Advogados, http://www.vda.pt/en/);
  • college and university students associations engaged on weekend volunteering programs for nature conservation works. Engagement works focusing this target audience started in August 2017, having for first result a volunteering activity that took place in Baldio de Carvalhais in cooperation with VO.U (www.vou.pt), from Porto, from the 5th to the 8th October. Following that, other activities were already held (18/19 November) and are being scheduled for the first semester of 2018 on a regular basis (one every two months). Two similar organizations, from Coimbra - AEESAC (http://www.aeesac.pt/) and NEB-AAC (http://academica.pt/nucleo-de-estudantes-de-biologia/) - are meanwhile being engaged with similar purposes;
  • other NGO’s, civil society organizations and/or public authorities with whom synergies can be established having for aim conservation of private land, including, given the specific and unexpected outcomes of the 2017 forest fires, the owner’s association from the village Ferraria de São João (in the municipality of Penela), where a pilot cooperation project is being established since June 2017, with technical support from MONTIS (Associação de Moradores da Ferraria de São João, https://www.facebook.com/ferrariadesaojoao/).

Along the whole project works, but focusing on post-project needs.

Is the tool/model already being applied in another region? If so, where? How? Since when?

Similar tools are known and of wider use in other contexts. We look forward for the inputs from the census to identify them, and probably benefit from exchange of knowledge and practices.

How much land is already conserved by the tool/model?

The pilot works are expected to deal with all the land that MONTIS manages, which currently includes:

  • 2 parcels owned by MONTIS (5,5 ha), acquired through funds raised with crowdfunding (Carvalhal de Vermilhas, municipality of Vouzela),
  • 1 parcel of common lands contracted with the applicable management body (100 ha, Baldio de Carvalhais, municipality of São Pedro do Sul);
  • 2 parcels of private owned land contracted with the owner, ALTRI, a pulp and paper company (about 50 ha, Vieiro and Costa Bacelo, municipality of Arouca)
  • 1 parcel of common lands contracted with the applicable management body (20 ha, Baldio de Granja/Valadares, municipality of Oliveira de Frades);
  • 1 parcel of private owned land contracted with the owner, Herdade do Freixo do Meio, and organic farm (about 2 ha, municipality of Montemor-o-Novo).

In addition, the pilot works may deal with land managed by partner organizations, including 256 parcels owned by the inhabitants of Ferraria de São João (about 12 ha), commonly managed by Associação de Moradores da Ferraria de São João.

Montis logo
Project partner responsible for its implementation

Montis - Associação de Conservação da Natureza
Avenida João de Melo, nº 23
3670-249, Vouzela