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JOÃO PORTUGAL RAMOS – Business & Biodiversity

PROJECT TITLE:  BUSINESS & BIODIVERSITY

COMPANY: JOÃO PORTUGAL RAMOS VINHOS

Born into a family with a long history of wine production, João Portugal Ramos has chosen Estremoz to make his own wines, after a long career as consultant winemaker in the main wine-growing regions of Portugal. The winery was built in 1997, producing high quality wines under the brand João Portugal Ramos. This project soon became the mother wine company within the Group.

João Ramos rapidly branched out of its Alentejo base and, in 2005, the Quinta de Foz de Arouce estate in Lousã, Beira Baixa, also became part of the Group. JPR controls both the production and the distribution of the wines produced in this estate, which was owned by his father-in-law.

In 2007 starts the Duorum project with a long-term friend and fellow winemaker, José Maria Soares Franco. The Duorum Project is an encounter of the minds from two regions that have worldwide recognition for quality and personality – the Douro and the Alentejo – in a project designed specifically for the Douro.

João Ramos always had the dream of producing wine in Vinho Verde region and, in 2010, the dream came true, being the most recent project of the Group.

JPR Group is an example of a sustainable company that is economically viable producing wines of high quality, respecting the environment, people, and the future of coming generations.

 

ABSTRACT:

Wine production is an activity with great tradition in Portugal since ancient times. More recently, new intensive viticulture techniques have enabled a greater volume of wine production but have also led to greater environmental problems. Monitoring operations and surveillance inspection of environmental problems resulting from the vine plantations and from wine-making processes in wineries have been slow, although becoming more frequent in the last decade.

The most common environmental problems related to wine production result from pollution caused by effluents from the wine-making process in wineries, soil erosion due to planting in steep slopes and pollution of water and soil resources, together with the use of pesticides and fertilizers in plantations.

The promotion of Biodiversity in the vineyards, for example through the implementation of agricultural practices such as natural grassland (or sowing) and the reduction of soil mobilization, contribute to the enrichment of the soil in organic matter. Furthermore, it increases soil carbon sequestration, a way of removing accumulated carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil, thus reducing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.

STARTING DATE: 06/01/2012                        ENDING DATE: ongoing

 

SUSTAINABLE TARGET

JPR’S purpose is to produce high quality wines, with the lowest possible impact on the landscape as well as on the surrounding ecosystems.

PARTNERS

Sinergiae, ICNB, Natura 2000

 

REASON WHY/ MOTIVATION

João Portugal Ramos Group is been a part of the European Business & Biodiversity Initiative since 2012, an European Network whose main objective is to highlight the relationship between business activity and biodiversity. Its aim is to promote the contribution of the business sector to the protection biodiversity, thereby preserving at a local, regional, national and global scale.

 

Under JPR’s membership of The Porto Protocol, it was clear that the Company’s efforts on the Business & Biodiversity Initiative clearly matched those of this institution, being an opportunity to show/highlight this Initiative to other members.

 

DESCRIPTION and STRATEGIES

During the last decade, JPR has adopted sustainable development policies and measures to reduce its environmental impact, particularly on Biodiversity, seeking to store more carbon from the atmosphere in the soil, but also through other means, such as winery processes (e.g. environmental friendly waste management).

We have developed a management model that respects biodiversity and allows us to improve and preserve the existing habitats in our estates.

In Duorum, we developed a program of actions, some of them used in other Group’s vineyards:

 

Actions (Biodiversity and Natural resources):

  • Plantation Scheme promoting an Heterogeneous Mosaic of spontaneous biodiverse vegetation in the vineyards
  • Landscape Integration Project
  • Drainage Project (prepared for a 100 year flood)
  • Use of sub products of grape Vinification (stems and skins) together with the organic matter resulting from pruning to fertilize the soils
  • Creation of the DO-08 nesting crag buffer zone where Planting and operations restrictions were applied
  • Preservation of riparian vegetation – up to 15m;
  • Preservation of the Ecological Corridors;
  • Plantations of two Autochthonous Woodlands, across roads and of uncultivated lands (over 1000 Autochthonous trees and hundreds of Autochthonous bushes)
  • Plantation of grassland Fauna Crops (which birds of prey feed on)
  • Fauna Feeders and Shelters
  • Installation of an Autochthonous Plant Nursery
  • Installation of Apiaries
  • Promotion of Autochthonous Vegetation in Hedgerows and Embankments
  • Spontaneous and planted cover crops, within lines and at the borders (Functional Biodiversity)
  • Implementation of a Black Wheatear Conservation Plan
  • Implementation of a SMART irrigation system
  • Biodiversity characterization studies especially focused on flora and birds’ identification, monitoring and mapping.

 

 

Actions (Cultural Landscape):

  • Preservation of ancient Olive and Almond Groves
  • Preservation of ancient Schist Walls
  • Use of cultural production techniques (terraces at the Douro Slopes)
  • Use of autochthonous grape varieties
  • Use of Local Materials and Construction Techniques
  • Recuperation of cultural landmarks (Dovecotes and Cardanhos)
  • Employment of locals in a highly disadvantaged Social-economic context (low density territory)

 

Actions (Awareness):

  • Creation of visitation brochures and field guides
  • Sustainability tab on its Website
  • Use of the Business& Biodiversity logo and information on the Initiative at all company communication, including at the bottles
  • Promotion of networking and knowledge transfer by participating in several clusters, research projects and events
  • Naming its top wine O. Leucura which is accompanied by an awareness Necker

 

All the Group’s vineyards are certified for Integrated or Biological production, meaning restricting as much as possible the use of pesticide treatments to control pests or diseases.

We have decided not to practice soil tillage in all vineyards, which means opting for natural or sown greening, preventing soil erosion, conserving moisture and increasing fertility. The direct contribution of these land covers to vineyards is the increase of insect diversity, many of them playing a key role in predating potential pests, and also becoming an essential part of a food chain that passes through birds, reptiles and mammals.

Flora also makes part of the natural richness at Quinta de Castelo Melhor estate, standing out by its beauty and rarity. It can be found mainly around the vineyards or near the river, the train station and in the small woodlands, also playing an important role by supporting auxiliary fauna that helps to control pests.

 

ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR

  • Increased bird Biodiversity:

 

The Black Wheatear, was almost extinct in Portugal with reduced numbers of effectives and its distribution is limited to the Douro and Tejo International areas. It is a treasure to spot such a bird and we have just recently confirmed a couple with a least three new born birds.

 

 

  • Reduction of chemical fertilizers inputs by the reuse of organic wastes in vineyards;
  • The increase of soil organic matter component (from allowing wild plants to grow in the vineyards, as well as using organic wastes as fertilizers) increases carbon sequestration from the atmosphere.
  • The increasing carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse effects in the atmosphere are allowed by the greater complexity of fauna and flora in the vineyards.

As a result of the Group’s environmental policy, in 2015 Duorum won the Anders Wall Award, a prize promoted by several European business associations, choosing “the best European project, that has contributed to the preservation of the landscape, biodiversity and sustainability of the European countryside.

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Biodiversity and waste management reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides inputs in vineyards, thus pollution; it allows maintenance and increase of protected species in the vineyards and surroundings, as well as greater carbon sequestration.

 

NEXT STEPS

Increase the scope and variety of Biodiversity management measures, such as creating shelters for bats, which will increase bat population in the vineyards, reducing effects of vine diseases that bats feed on; less pesticide inputs, less pollution.

 

POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION

This approach has significant potential for replication, setting guidelines to increase the Company’s area of vineyards or to serve as an example to other Companies (and estates) in the wine sector.

Member

João Portugal Ramos

Area

Portugal

Date

13 Agosto, 2020

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