The project Sustainable Beauty for Algarvean Gardens: Old Knowledge to a Better Future (SUSBEAUTY), by Ana Duarte Rodrigues, was started in 2015 at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, under the Investigador FCT program.

Through books and documentation from the 16th to the 19th centuries, this research aims to demonstrate that more sustainable solutions can be found using indigenous species from the Algarve region, capable of adapting to the characteristics of the climate and soils of that area. Until now, historical research has allowed us to discover which species dominated the Algarve landscape between the 16th and 19th centuries, many of them perfectly adapted to the climate of the Mediterranean region and, therefore, dispensed with irrigation. In addition, this study made it possible to discover ancient horticultural techniques that protected the evaporation of water from the land and traditional irrigation systems.

In 2018, a set of pilot experiments with a technical team (a landscape architect and two agronomists) also started, in the space of the Faculty of Sciences, in plots with native species and different types of irrigation to compare water costs and the performance of plants compared to a lawn. The preliminary results are already visible: the native plants have performed noticeably better than the lawn and do not need any irrigation system, as they are adapted to the climate.

For more: Sustainable beauty for algarvean gardens: cross-boundary solutions between the humanities and the sciences. In:

“Back to the Past: A plea for Identity and Sustainability”, International Workshop Changing the Earth’s (Sur-)Face. Adjusting Nature to Human Needs, organized by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany, May 23-25, 2018.

Ana Duarte Rodrigues, keynote speaker.

  • The Susbeauty project was at the origin of the AQUA project, both coordinated by Professor Ana Duarte Rodrigues, coordinator of the Interuniversity Center for the History of Science and Technology at the University of Lisbon and editor of the magazine Gardens & Landscapes.