Hunting and Fishing
On the banks of the rivers and lakes of the Alentejo, fishing is a favourite sport. One of the fish most commonly found in these rivers is the largemouth bass.
The forests are also a source of game, such as partridges and wild boar. Although seasonal, hunting is common. It is restricted to certain areas and regulated by law. Hunting is not only considered an activity of leisure, but also ensures the maintenance of the species, providing another source of food and employment opportunities.
Some of the farmers of the montado rear indigenous pigs, sheep, goats and cattle, graze on large areas of pasture. The pork is salted and smoked, and the final smoked ham product offers source of protein throughout the year, as well as being sold internationally. Many meat products of the Iberian Peninsula with European certification come from cattle farmed on these lands. Meanwhile, goats provide the famous fresh cheeses, while sheep provide the matured cheese.
Herbs and medicinal plants
The forests contribute directly and significantly to the food safety of the rural population. There is a wide range of food sources in the cork forests, including seeds, acorns, mushrooms and herbs. Acorns provide a supplementary food for the indigenous pigs which, consequently, produce meat that is characterized by superior quality, due to their diet of acorns.
Rock-rose provides firewood (used in traditional stone-built bread ovens outside the homes) and – like lavender and heather – feeds the bees which are bread to give pollen, honey and wax.
Another source of food and income is the wild mushrooms associated with the cork oaks. Many of them are edible and reach high prices in the market, providing an economic boost that is essential for many families.
The strawberry tree, another example, provides berries that are used in liquor and fuel, and it is often collected and sold in local trading posts. The economic value of the natural landscape alone is, therefore, very high.
Ecotourism is a concept that has already been explored. Tourism brings many potential benefits for rural areas. It is an important source of employment for local communities, and can also serve as a marketing vehicle to attract potential residents and firms to a region. In the local towns, surrounded by areas of montado, several cabins, hotels and campsites have supported the local communities in terms of jobs, training and preparation of projects to create income.
Small scale ecotourism has served to increase the environmental awareness of those who visit the landscape, thereby promoting the conservation of nature through a wide spectrum of outdoor leisure activities, such as hunting, fishing, camping, and bird watching.