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Helena Mesquita Pina

Abstract

As a consequence of its long history of more than 250 years, the Douro Demarcated Region (NE Portugal) boasts a distinct cultural landscape typified by terraces filled with the regional variety of grapevine – it is a region where famous wines are produced, in particular Port wine. Nevertheless, especially after the 1980s, the need to cover labour shortages and increase productivity led to a gradual change in the landscape, and today the traditional terraces are mixed with new types of vineyards, such as the “vinha ao alto” (vertical vines) and “vinha em patamares” (vines on terraces). Against this backdrop, and with a view to preserving the landscape in a sustainable and multifunctional way, UNESCO awarded the region the “Evolving Living Landscape, World Heritage” award. In this article we combine extensive documentary research with productive field work in order to question the relationship between the need to preserve an exceptional, cultural landscape and the need for regional sustainability in this World Heritage site.