Conservation Actions

Seed collection campaing goes from october to december. In 2017 around 6500 seeds of various native species typical from the Portuguese Laurel and Rhododendron communities were collected, namely, Arbutus unedo, Phyllirea angustifolia, Phyllirea media, Prunus lusitanica, Quercus broteroana , Quercus canariensis, Quercus stremadurensis, Quercus marianica, Quercus pyrenaica, Rhododendron ponticum, Rhamnus alaternus and Viburnum tinus. The seeds were than transported to CICYTEX nursery, where several germination experiments were carried out. However, some germination problems have been found, in particular with species of Prunus lusitanica, Arbutus unedo, Phillyrea angustifolia and Viburnum tinus.

In 2018, an additional 15500 seeds and 285 plant cuttings were collected. The purpose of collecting cuttings was to ensure that there were plants with adequate development to install in the field, thus overcoming some of the germination problems observed in the previous year. After the initial difficulties were overcome, it was possible to propagate many plants that were later transported to the intervention areas of the Life-Relict project.

In 2019, another campaign was carried out to collect more seeds and more plant cuttings. New propagation was made giving rise to more seedlings of species characteristic of the target habitat and associated habitats. The main goal is to increase the plant material necessary to increase and improve the condition of these important habitats for conservation within the intervention areas of Life-Relict project.

By the end of 2019, 6747 plants of the 35,500 expected had already been delivered.

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ID of photos

1 – Fruits from Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum
2 – Seeds from Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica
3 – Germination of Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum
4 – Germination of Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica
5 – Plants of Quercus marianica c. vicioso.
6 – Plants of Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum
7 – Plants of Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica
8 – Fruits of Arbutus unedo
9 – Acclimatisation of Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum
10 – Germination of Quercus spp.
11 – Development of Quercus broteroana
12 – Growing of Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica
13 – Growing of Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum
14 – Growing of Quercus canariensis

 

 

 

Action C2 presents the average execution of the respective sub-actions:

During 2019, several works were carried out on the water channels near the village of Cabeça, municipality of Seia. This was in a very poor state and was completely cleaned and rebuilt so that it can continue to bring water to the Portuguese Laurel communities that exist in its vicinity.

Photos showing the degraded state (from 1 to 7) – click on the images to enlarge

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Photos showing the cleaning work (from 8 to 14) – click on the images to enlarge

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Photos showing the result of the cleaning work (from 15 to 21) – click on the images to enlarge

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Photos showing the water channel fully functional (from 22 to 28) – click on the images to enlarge

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The work began in June 2018,  when selective control of vegetation in Mata da Margaraça was done in about 2 ha. The purpose was to reduce risk of fire by cutting heliophilous scrub (which is not characteristic of the habitat 5230 *) and was done on land that hadn’t burned in the previous year.

In 2019, in the intervention areas of serra da Estrela, all heliophilous shrubs, with special attention to species with a high risk of fire, such as the common ferns (Pteridium aquilinum), was removed in an area of ​​2.8 ha.

Of the 8 ha planned for this sub-action, the work has already been carried out on 4.8 ha.

Photos showing the work being executed in Mata da Margaraça (from 1 to 4) and the results in Cabeça, Estrela (from 5 to 7) – click on the images to enlarge

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Work is still in progress to prepare the land for the new plantations and as such, at the end of 2019 this sub-action had not yet started. In the case of serra da Estrela, work on the renaturalization of the areas to be intervened is still ongoing, that is, the removal of non-invasive exotic species, such as pine and eucalyptus, is still ongoing, in order to reduce the fire risk and so that new plantings of the target species of Life-Relict are not affected.

 

 

Action C3 presents the average execution of the respective sub-actions:

The areas of Rhododendron existing in Monchique were degraded, forming only small patches between the heliophile scrub. Thus, Life-Relict project advanced into the control of these shrubs, within the entire planned area (3ha) in October 2018 and repeated in June 2019. This was aimed to reduce the risk of fire. Although this sub-action has already been completed, it will be repeated whenever necessary.

Photos showing the work being executed in Monchique (from 1 to 7) – click on the images to enlarge

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In February 2019, a test was made with 20 plants of Rhododendron from vegetative origin. All plants ended up dying even with periodic watering. To be noted that the spring of 2019 was very dry and Rhododendron plants had little developed roots due to its slow growth. Therefore, it is important to delay plantation as much as possible, in order to enhance installation success.This is an example of the problems that can arise when trying to preserve endangered species, which are witnesses of the Laurissilva forest that once dominated the Iberian Peninsula, when the climate was subtropical.

In order to overcome this problem, it was implemented throughout C3 intervention area a Rhododendron vegetative propagation by “diving”. This species, don’t have any special structures that allow it to multiply vegetatively. However, in nature, when its branches are covered with soil they can take root and ultimately give way to an independent individual, genetically equal to its parent. In this sense, “diving” was carried out in this particular area in order to increase species occurrence. The monitoring of these plants, allows us to confirm
the success of this operation (i.e. plants still alive).

click on the images to enlarge

Results from “diving” technique

ilustration from “diving” technique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action C4 presents the average execution of the respective sub-actions:

Selective control of spontaneous heliophilous vegetation was started in Cabeça, Seia and by the end of 2019,  3.2 ha had already been intervened. At the moment, there are more 8ha of potential Portuguese Laurel habitat being intervened.

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Photos showing the results of the work performed in Cabeça, Estrela – click on the images to enlarge

 

 

This action can only start when actions C4.1 and C4.3 are finished. In other words, it is only after the land is cleared of heliophilous scrub and non-invasive species, that plantations of the target species can begin. However, it is expected to start soon.

The potential areas for the Portuguese Laurel habitat were once converted to pine and eucalyptus plantations. Thus, habitat restoration requires the removal of these trees because they compete with the Portuguese Laurel, in addition they increase fire hazard. This being a very meticulous work, not only due to the orography of Serra da Estrela, but also to the techniques and machinery necessary to do it, this action is being carefully planned.

 

 

Action C5 presents the average execution of the respective sub-actions:

This action is dependent on action C1 and, consequently, field work will not start to increase the potential area of ​​R. ponticum Habitat until there are enough well developed plants to install.

This action is dependent on action C1 and, consequently, field work will not start to increase the potential area of ​​R. ponticum Habitat until there are enough well developed plants to install.

This action is dependent on action C1 and, consequently, field work will not start to increase the potential area of ​​R. ponticum Habitat until there are enough well developed plants to install.

 

 

This action started in 2018 with the debarking of Acacea dealbata in the intervention area of Cabeça, serra da Estrela, despite the difficulties of access (photo 1). However, the results of this intervention are already visible (photos 2, 3 and 4).

In 2019, after improving access (sub-action C7.1), Hakea sericea was controlled within the same intervention area, in a 4ha extension, where all trees were cut and so 100% executed. Still in 2019, it was possible to continue to debark more Acacea dealbata trees in order to perform the control in about 54% of the 4ha of the invaded area (photos 5, 6 and 7).

Click on the photos to enlarge

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Action C7 presents the average execution of the respective sub-actions:

In overall, 2km of the predicted 3km have been recovered and cleaned. This recovery is essential for the implementation of other actions, such as C2, C4, C6 and other sub-actions of C7 and will be a good support structure for the prevention and control of future forest fires.

Photographs showing the state of degradation of the access roads (from 1 to 4) and the results (5 and 6) – Click on the photos to enlarge

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This action started in April 2018 when the restoration works began in Mata da Margaraça, more specifically in the area affected by the fire of the previous year. This sub-action was implemented in 13% of the planned area. Additionally, ICNF replicated the Life-Relict methodology in an area of 6ha, thus increasing the level of protection of the Project’s intervention area. In November 2018, work began in Monchique and was concluded in June 2019. Thus, this sub-action has already been implemented in the entire planned area, and is therefore 100% executed. In 2019, this sub-action was implemented in 5ha in Cabeça, Serra da Estrela of 10ha expected, that is, executed in 50%.

Photographs showing the progressing work in Mata da Margaraça (1 to 3) and Monchique (4 to 7) – Click on the images to enlarge

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This sub-action hasn’t been started yet in both territories (Estrela or Monchique) because C7.2 and C7.4 have to be complete before and plants (C1) have to be well developed to be planted.

In Cabeça, Estrela mountain, work began in November 2019 and by the end of the year, 14% of the area had already been intervened. By March 2020, it is expected to be fully completed. In Monchique, at the end of 2019, the entire eucalyptus area had already been intervened. Thus, this sub-action has already been implemented at 100%. However, more work will be carried out to prevent the regeneration of cut eucalyptus.

Photographs that illustrate the state before (1 to 2) and the progress of the works in Monchique (3 to 6) – Click on the images to enlarge

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In Monchique, in the existing chestnut forest, selective management of the vegetation cover was carried out to improve the structure of this Habitat, in order to increase the resilience
to forest fires. A total of 1.8 ha was intervened, executing 90% of this sub-action.

Photographs showing the state before the intervention (from 1 to 4) and after the intervention (from 5 to 7) – Click on the images to enlarge

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For more information on other actions, please click on the following images: