The Magical Cork Forest

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They say that the cork forest is magical, that it can bewitch the unsuspecting and catch them in its spell. Eduardo Gonçalves, 47, was one of its victims.
Son of Portuguese parents working in London, he was born there, and there he studied and lived until the age of 30, when he gave in to the charms of the cork forests and to the memories of the childhood holidays. In 1998, he left London, the foggy, urban and cosmopolitan London, to live in his recently bought and partially-ruined farm, in the heart of the Alentejo, close to Santa Clara Lake. He had no water, electricity or comfort, but he had time, space, sun and, of course, cork oaks, many, many cork oaks.

Eduardo Gonçalves in Alentejo

He was accompanied by his wife, Siobhan Mitchell, 35, also a journalist and also a victim of the magic of the cork forest since her first holidays with her husband on the Alentejo coast. With a degree in Political Science, Eduardo Gonçalves was at the time a freelance journalist specialising in the environment, writing for some of the most respected British newspapers, such as the Sunday Times, The Observer and The Guardian. He was also an advisor to two of the most well-known politicians in the UK today, Simon Hughes and Menzies Campbell, besides being an adviser on environmental and social issues for Congress in the United States of America.

But he wanted to change his life, to be closer to his Portuguese family and, above all, to experience rural life, in direct and daily contact with nature. He has no regrets. The old Alentejo farm has become his home, his two children were born here and it is here that he wants to carry on living.

But he wanted to change his life, to be closer to his Portuguese family and, above all, to experience rural life, in direct and daily contact with nature. He has no regrets. The old Alentejo farm has become his home, and his two children were born here. He returned to London and recently stood as a candidate for the English Parliament. Several articles were written about him (Sábado, RTP  and TSF , are just some examples). But his passion for the cork forest makes him return whenever he can.

He is associated with the international environmental organisation WWF, for which he coordinates a sustainable development project and is a consultant in the area of cork and the maintenance of cork forests. He is also the author of the widely circulated The Cork Report, a study published in the UK which demystifies the accusations made against cork stoppers in contrast with synthetic seals. Together with his wife, one of the founder members of SOS LYNX (Association for the Defence of Flora and Fauna in Portugal), he has published the book The Algarve Tiger, a unique study of one of the most endangered species in the cork forests, the Iberian lynx. His Chronicles from Cork Country were written exclusively for APCOR and tell the story of the many adventures and misadventures of this couple bewitched by the magic of the cork forest.

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