Pine nuts and forest conservation
Portugal is located in the south western part of the continent of Europe and it is filled with picturesque locations and beautiful landscapes displaying exquisite scenic beauty. It is interesting to note that in Portugal, about 38% of the total land area is occupied by forest cover which is even more than the amount of land surface dedicated to agriculture in the country. According to official estimates, the major section of the forest area is dominated by the wild pine trees which occupy 31% of the total forest area which is equivalent to around 976,000 hectares and is followed by corks and eucalyptus. Of these wild pines, there exists also another species known as the stony pines which are cultivated in Portugal. The stony pines are also popularly referred to as umbrella pines in the country and the statistics and figures revealed by the Portuguese National Forest Inventory reveal that the stony pines occupy a total area of about 83,900 ha of forest areas. These trees grow extensively in Portugal and one of the major causes facilitating its cultivation is definitely due to the favorable weather conditions provided by the Mediterranean climate of the region.
These stony pines are extremely beneficial for maintaining the ecological balance of the forest area and prevent against pollution and facilitate forest conservation. First and foremost it is to be noted that the stony pines are adaptive to extreme temperature conditions and its most important characteristic is that they are not prone to any form of damage by pests or diseases unlike common plants and vegetation which can preserve the forest environment. Moreover, one of the most significant products obtained form the stony pine trees are the pine nuts which are comprise an important ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. The pine nuts also aid forest conservation as unlike timber harvesting, the harvesting and maturation of the pine nut kernels are considered more environment-friendly and thus have no negative impact on the forest cover.