Project Actions

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

The concrete conservation actions of Life-Relict aim to improve the conservation status and ecological function of the Laurissilva Continental relicts. By implementing these conservation actions, it is envisaged to increase the area of ​​habitat occurrence by restoring favorable adjacent areas, reducing the impact of key conservation threats and demonstrating innovative methodologies and approaches to sound management.

ACTION C.1 – Collection and Propagation of Vegetative Material

This action aims to collect and propagate the necessary plant material to increase and improve the conservation status of the Life-Relict project’s target habitat areas and will serve for the correct implementation of the following conservation actions. In this sense, seeds of indigenous plants characteristic of these Continental Laurissilva Relict communities will be collected in all areas of intervention of the project.

ACTION C.2 – Improvement of the Conservation Status of Portuguese Laurel Effective Areas

In this action, several management measures will be implemented, divided into sub-actions aimed at improving the conservation status of existing Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica subsp. Lusitanica) patches belonging to habitat 5230*. This set of field interventions will enable the conservation status of the Life-Relict conservation target habitat to be improved and, at the same time, reduce the risk of fire as it is one of the biggest threats facing the habitat today.

Sub-action C.2.1 – Recovery of the water channels that feed the Portuguese Laurel Community

The Portuguese Laurel communities are favored by the presence of some water and, consequently, for their preservation it is necessary to reestablish the flow rates of levadas, tradicional water channels. In order to achieve this objective, the recovery of an existing traditional irrigation levada that once fed the nucleus but is currently in poor condition will be recovered.

Sub-action C.2.2 – Selective vegetation control

Selective control of vegetation will be carried out by cutting heliophilous species present in the project’s areas. This action aims to control competition by favoring the growth and spread of P. lusitanica and at the same time reducing the spread and risk of fire within habitat areas.

Sub-action C.2.3 – Improvement of habitat structure through targeted plantations

The most degraded and poorly covered habitat patches of 5230 * habitat species will be reinforced through plantations using the plants propagated in Action C1. In this sense, this action aims to improve and strengthen the structure of the Continental Laurissilva relicts in the project’s intervention areas.

ACTION C.3 – Improvement of the Conservation Status of Pontic Rhododendron  Effective Areas.

In this action, several management measures will be implemented, divided into sub-actions, which aim to improve the conservation status of existing Pontic Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. Baeticum) patches belonging to habitat 5230*. This set of field interventions will enable the conservation status of the Life-Relict conservation target habitat to be improved and, at the same time, reduce the risk of fire as this is one of the biggest threats facing the habitat today.

Sub-action C.3.1 – Selective vegetation control

Selective control of the vegetation will be done, as already mentioned in sub-action C2.2, with cutting of heliophilic species present in the project’s intervention areas. This action aims to control competition, favoring growth. and the spread of R. ponticum while simultaneously reducing the spread and risk of fire within habitat areas.

Sub-action C.3.2 – Improvement of habitat structure through targeted plantations.

The most degraded habitat patches with low cover of habitat characteristic species will be reinforced through plantations, as already described in action C.2.3. These will be mainly from R. ponticum but also from other species characteristic of habitat 5230 *. In this sense, this action aims to improve and strengthen the structure of the Continental Laurissilva relicts in the project’s intervention areas.

ACTION C.4 – Increase of the Portuguese Laurel habitat area

Through a set of sub-actions, it is intended to significantly expand the areas of occurrence of Portuguese Laurel, promoting its restoration in potential areas of natural occurrence. This action will increase the effective area of ​​habitat occurrence 5230*, which according to the 3rd National Implementation Report of the Habitats Directive (2007-2012) is “unfavorable” in Portugal. From a conservation point of view, this measure is important for P. lusitanica communities, due to the fragmentation, poor representativeness and state of degradation in which they are currently in the Iberian Peninsula, with limited possibilities for expansion.

Sub-action C.4.1 – Selective vegetation control

Selective control of vegetation will be carried out by cutting heliophilous species present in territories of potential habitat . This will promote the characteristic species of this forest and at the same time reduce the spread and risk of fire in the territory. Interventions will be made safeguarding soil protection and natural regeneration of tree species or species characteristic of the target communities.

Sub-action C4.2 – Plantations

The expansion of Portuguese Laurel nuclei will be made using plantation, following the patterns already described for sub-action C.2.3.

Subaction C4.3. Control of non-invasive alien species

Non-invasive alien species control measures will be implemented to improve the conservation status of the habitat locally. This will remove pines and eucalyptus trees in the project intervention areas.

ACTION C.5 – Increase in Pontic Rhododendron habitat area

Similar to action C4, this action is intended to significantly expand the areas of occurrence of Pontic Rhododendron, promoting their restoration in potential areas of occurrence, through a set of sub-actions. This action will increase the effective area of ​​habitat occurrence 5230*, which according to the 3rd National Implementation Report of the Habitats Directive (2007-2012) is “unfavorable” in Portugal. From a conservation point of view, this measure is especially important for R. ponticum communities once which, as mentioned in the threats chapter, are at risk due to the alarming inability to install seminal plants.

Sub-action C.5.1 – Selective vegetation control

Selective vegetation control will be carried out in the same manner as described for sub-action C.4.1.

Action C5.2 – Plantations

The expansion of Adelfeiras nuclei will be done using plantations, following the patterns already described for sub-action C.2.3.

Subaction C5.3. -Control of non-invasive alien species

Non-invasive alien species control measures will be implemented to improve the conservation status of the habitat locally, as action C.4.3.

ACTION C.6 – Control of invasive alien species

In some areas of intervention of the project there is a surface where two species with great invasive power occur, namely Acacia dealbata and Hakea sericea. Given the threat posed by these nuclei to the preservation of 5230* habitat, this action aims to implement control measures for these invasive alien species.

ACTION C.7 – Reduction of fire hazard

This action will make it possible to reduce the risk and speed of the spread of forest fires in areas adjacent to the Habitat nuclei, reducing the likelihood that they will be achieved through a set of sub-actions. Measures will be taken to foster partitioning of the landscape and the creation of buffer areas. This will improve and increase hardwood plant communities which, as is recognized, slow the spread of fire. To achieve this goal, the areas surrounding the habitat will benefit from the following sub-actions:

Sub-action C7.1 – Recovery and cleaning of study area access paths

The areas located in the Serra da Estrela are in hard-to-reach valleys whose pedestrian paths are mostly covered with heliophilic scrub. Thus, to be possible the implementation of this action, as well as others, will be done the cleaning and recovery of accesses. This intervention will also reduce the spread of possible fires, allowing easier access of firefighters to these areas. It only includes simple benefits of cleaning existing and commonly used paths.

Sub-action C7.2 – Selective vegetation control

Selective cutting of vegetation in order to enhance the characteristic forest species. This action will be done with the same model adopted in Action C2. All natural regeneration of indigenous tree species will always be maintained.

Sub-action C7.3 – Directed Plantations

It is intended to increase the areas of oak adjacent to the habitat through, for example, benefiting from the natural regeneration of tree or shrub species belonging to oak trees; planting of hardwoods (Quercus spp.) and other characteristic and propagated species in action C1. The plantations will follow the same pattern as those foreseen for action C2 and C3.

Sub-action C7.4 – Control of non-invasive alien species

Exotic species control measures will be implemented along the lines already described in sub-action C4.3.

Sub-Action C7.5 – Improvement of the habitat Castinçal

In Monchique, in an area where there is a chestnut plantation for the purpose of logging (castinçal), selective management of the vegetation cover will be made with a view to habitat improvement to increase resilience to forest fires.

MONITORING ACTIONS

Life-Relict monitoring actions are fundamental to the project’s good functioning as it allows to evaluate the impact of conservation and awareness actions, as well as to find errors that can be corrected throughout the project.

ACTION D.1 – Monitoring and evaluation of project “C” actions

The effectiveness of project actions will be assessed by monitoring them from pre-implementation to completion.

ACTION D.2 – Monitoring socio-economic impact

This action will provide a better socio-economic understanding of the territories where the 5230 * habitat fits, through an integrated and holistic analysis with a view to assessing the impact on future habitat conservation. On the other hand, it is also essential to monitor the effective impact of environmental awareness and education actions on the Portuguese population.

ACTION D.3 – Monitoring project impact on ecosystem function

This action will evaluate and monitor the role of ecosystems within the project’s intervention areas.

ACTION D.4 – Cost-effectiveness monitoring of project actions

This action intends to make an assessment and balance between the costs and efficiency of the main actions of this project, that is, the concrete conservation actions. This will make it possible to compare the total costs of actions with the total benefits received, as well as to detect and signal behaviors that make management work more efficient.

ACTION D.5 – Monitoring and evaluation of project performance indicators

This is an action that aims to monitor and evaluate a series of performance indicators of the implemented actions. This is an extremely important action, as it contributes clearly and directly to the overall assessment of the impact of this project on both nature conservation, social and economic levels.

 

AWARENESS ACTIONS

ACTION E.1 – Dissemination of the project to the general public

This action aims to publicize Life-Relict, as well as habitats and RN2000, to the general public. This action is extremely important as it will make local populations, visitors and all those interested in environmental issues aware of the need to preserve this habitat, indirectly contributing to its future preservation. It is expected that this action will change social behaviors and minimize some of the associated threats (such as fire risk, improper collection of copies, among others).

ACTION E.2 – Communication and nature tourism

This action includes the dissemination of the project and the promotion of ecotourism. Thus, the various activities will make known the importance of conservation of this type of vegetation, increasing social awareness of the need for its preservation and the historical and natural value they represent. This knowledge is fundamental to instill in society a protective role of its natural values ​​and sense of belonging. It also intends to contribute to the creation of structures and materials to support nature tourism, indispensable for the sustainable socio-economic development of these inland regions.

ACTION E.3 – Environmental awareness and education

The correct information and awareness of the population for the conservation of this natural heritage is fundamental for its future preservation. In this sense, Life-Relict foresees the development of actions directed to the school community of the target municipalities, as well as to the local population.

ACTION E.4 – Scientific dissemination of the project

The scientific dissemination of the project is fundamental and even essential for the dissemination of the methodologies used and the results obtained so that this action intends to develop various activities that will promote the scientific dissemination of the project.

ACTION E.5 – Replication Efforts and Networking with Other Projects

This action aims to establish contacts with other national or international projects, as well as with entities that may have an interest in the replication of management measures validated during the present project.