The Pine of the King, National Forest of Leiria, or Pinhal de Leiria is a Portuguese forest. It has 11,080 ha, covering the parishes of Marinha Grande and Vieira de Leiria, with only well inserted and fully in the municipality of Marinha Grande.
In Portugal, the pine forest of Leiria marked the beginning of intensive planting monoculture of maritime pine.
The pine forest was sent initially planted by King Afonso III (and not by D. Dinis as is commonly believed) in the thirteenth century, in order to halt the progress and degradation of dunes and protect the city of Leiria and its Castle , farmlands of its deterioration due to the sands carried by the wind, and it became a major concern for the region’s inhabitants. This was done to seed a large area that follows the coast. Some authors attribute to the pine plantation start of D. Sancho II.
It would then later between 1279 and 1325, increased substantially by King D. Dinis, to the current dimensions.
Where proceeded for cutting trees, this was followed by replanting – in this way the pine remained intact.
The pine forest of Leiria was very important to the Maritime Discoveries, because the wood of pine was used for the construction of vessels. The pitch (tar extracted from pine trees) was also used to protect the caravels, so there are still furnace where it was manufactured.
Later acquired much importance to economic development and population growth in the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, since it was the main drivers of industries such as shipbuilding, the glass industry, metallurgy and naval stores (through the pine gum extraction in the nineteenth century) – the wood was used both as a raw material as a source of energy for industries and homes.
The Pine Forest Today
The pine forest is still today as a place of recreation. At present operation is possible within the pine forest. The forest is thick and allows many activities related to nature, such as biking or walking. Along the roads that cut through the pine forest we can find various viewpoints, picnic parks and water sources, and the place much visited during the summer. The pine forest is intersected by river de Moel, which gives the place an air bucolic.
The pine forest has many dune formations.