National Day for Nature Conservation

The National Day for Nature Conservation was instituted by the Portuguese Government in July 28th, 1998, through Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 73/98, which aims to create an annual moment of special reflection on issues related to nature, whether in Portugal or in the world. It is also a day of recognition of the role of society and the associative movement in favor of defending natural values, the basis of survival and all human activities.

This day aims to raise awareness and inform society about the state of nature and sustainable use of biological resources. Indeed, ecological imbalances, climate change, degradation of habitat and ecosystems, as well as the loss of biodiversity, jeopardize the sustainable development of Portugal, so the involvement of all citizens in its preservation is urgent and essential.

At Life-Relict, we are working to preserve the Continental Laurissilva Relics so that everyone can benefit from its goods and services, both in the present and for future generations.



Survey about Life-Relict Website

We kindly ask for your collaboration in this short survey about the Life-Relict Website and, if you please, disseminate it throughout your contacts. It aims to understand the scope of the Project’ communication and dissemination actions. Coordinated by the University of Évora, this is a project that aims to substantially improve the conservation status of the Portuguese Laurel and Pontic Rhododendron in Portugal.

This very small survey will also provide us with an understanding of the Internet contribution to raise awareness for the importance of this habitat conservation as well as assess users’ opinions about the Site and the relevance of its content.

The questionnaire is short, anonymous, lasts less than 2 minutes and can be accessed HERE

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Kind regards.

3rd Technical Workshop on Propagation of Vulnerable Species at CICYTEX

On February 14 (2020), the 3rd technical workshop was held under Life-Relict, this time about the propagation of vulnerable species. The event took place at the Instituto de Investigaciones Agrarias Finca La Orden-Valdesequera, in Badajoz. Here, the participants had the opportunity to get to know more closely the work that the partner CICYTEX has been developing under Action C1 – Collection and Propagation of Vegetable Material. This action is the responsibility of CICYTEX and intends to collect and propagate the plant material necessary to increase and improve the conservation status of the target habitat and associated habitats, in the Project’s intervention areas.

The opening session was attended by the Director General of CICYTEX, Carmen González Ramos, with the coordinator of Life-Relict, Prof. Dr. Carlos Pinto Gomes from the University of Évora and with the Research Coordinator of CICYTEX, responsible for the working group for the propagation of vulnerable Life-Relict species, Francisco Vasquez Pardo. There followed the presentations on the work developed at CICYTEX within the scope of this Project and some of the results already achieved were disclosed.

Then, about 48 participants went to see the facilities where everything happens, namely, the laboratory where the seeds are cleaned and the first germination tests of the vulnerable species that are the target of Life-Relict are carried out. The visit to the greenhouses took place immediately afterwards, where it is possible to observe the development of the Rhododendron cuttings (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum), the Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) and many other species, including Quercus.

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1 and 2 – Opening session with Francisco Vasquez Pardo (CICYTEX), Carmen González Ramos (CICYTEX) and Prof. Carlos Pinto Gomes (UÉvora) – from left to right

3 – David Alonzo explains the spread of Portuguese Laurel and Rhododendron, target species of Life-Relict

4 – Francisco Vasquez Pardo explains the spread of the various species of Quercus

5 – Bench with several trays where the seeds are for cleaning

6 – Explanation of how to clean the seeds of vulnerable species

7 – Seeds of Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum)

8 – Seeds of Philyrea angustifolia

9 – Seeds of Ramnus alaternus

10 – Clean seeds of Philyrea angustifolia

11 – Participants visiting one of the various CICYTEX greenhouses

12 – Development of Rhododendron cuttings (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum)

13 – Participants visiting another of the various CICYTEX greenhouses

14 – Development of the germination of the Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

15 – Development of germination of Ramnus alaternus

16, 17 and 18 – Development of germination of Arbutus unedo

19 and 20 – Development of Quercus x marianica

21 and 22 – Participants visiting CICYTEX greenhouses

23 and 24 – Development of the germination of monchique oak (Quercus canariensis)

25 – Participants visiting CICYTEX greenhouses

26 – Development of germination of black oak (Quercus pyrenaica)

27 – Identification of trays as products of Action C1 of the Life-Relict project

28, 29 and 30 – Development of the germination of the Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

31 – Group photo

 

To access and download the presentations, please visit the communications page.

To view a short video prepared by CICYTEX during this Technical Workshop, please use this link.

 


University of Évora and GEOTA join efforts to restore natural Habitats in the Monchique

The University of Évora and the Study Group on Spatial Planning and Environment (GEOTA in Portuguese) signed a mutual collaboration protocol at the beginning of January (2020) with the objective of creating synergies between the conservation projects that each entity coordinates in Monchique.

In order to conserve one of the rarest natural habitats in Europe and one of the most unique in Monchique, the University of Évora coordinates Life-Relict. This project has as main objective the conservation of the arboreal communities of lauroid species (priority habitat for conservation listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive with code 5230 *). It is here that the witness plants of the Laurissilva forests that lived in the Iberian Peninsula in past geological times, when the dominant climate was of subtropical. In this situation are the rare Rhododendron, dominated by the imposing shrubs of Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum, a scarce and fragmented floristic species in the western areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Among the most varied concrete conservation actions carried out by Life-Relict, we highlight those that intend to benefit the mature stages of ecological succession, including the potential forests of Monchique. As it is intended to increase the area of ​​autochthonous forest and, therefore, increase the resilience and robustness of this priority habitat, in view of the exposure of the most significant threats, as is the case of fires, inadequate forestry interventions, propagation of invasive alien species , climate change, among others.

Simultaneously, GEOTA coordinates Renature Monchique project, a project that aims to restore the main habitats of the Natura 2000 network affected by the 2018 fire, which, considered to be the largest in Europe, consumed more than 27 thousand hectares, leaving a trail of destruction in the natural heritage. Thus, it is planned to renaturalize the landscape of Monchique with more than 75 thousand trees of native species. It is also expected to be able to contribute to the well-being of the local community and mitigate the future impacts of climate change in the territory.

In this way, as the specific objectives of the Life-Relict project (UÉ) and the Renature Monchique project (GEOTA) complement each other, the need for cooperation between the coordinating entities became evident, enhancing the best success in safeguarding the natural heritage of this Site of Community Importance through the replication and transfer of knowledge acquired by both parties.

The Monchique mountain range covers approximately 78 thousand hectares and is home to more than two dozen natural and semi-natural habitats, five of which are considered priority for conservation by the Habitats Directive (92/43 / EEC). Therefore, it is called Site of Community Importance (SCI), being in a very particular biogeographic context and where there are rare floristic species, some endemic and others threatened with extinction, as is the case of Monchique oak (Quercus canariensis), together with other floristic species in the region, gives particular value to the native forest of the Monchique mountains.

However, the most significant land-based economic activity is forestry, where tens of thousands of hectares are occupied by eucalyptus and wild pine stands. In addition, the majority of the area of this SIC has a fragile socio-economic dynamics and the propensity for abandonment is quite high, since the income from work is less than 60% of the region’s average (Algarve). Perhaps for this reason, the most significant threat factors are intensive afforestation with exotic species, forest fires, the destruction of native vegetation, the expansion of invasive alien species as well as climate change, among other threats that, commutatively, are contributing for a frank degradation of the native forest of Monchique.

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For more information about GEOTA project, visit: https://www.renaturemonchique.org/

 

 

 

 

 


The 3rd Technical Day will be about the Propagation of Vulnerable Species at CICYTEX

Next 14th of February, another Technical Workshop will take place, this time related to the Propagation of Vulnerable Species at the Center for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura (CICYTEX). The trainers will be the CICYTEX technicians themselves, namely David Garcia Alonso, Maria José Guerra and Francisco Vasquez Pardo, who will present the germination processes, talk about the care in the development of the plant as well as the hardening and mycorrhization process. Vegetative multiplication will also be addressed in this Technical workshop.

The 3rd Technical Workshop will take place at the LA ORDEN Center (CICYTEX), Guadajira, in Badajoz, Spain. Registration is free but mandatory via email frvazquez50@hotmail.com  or vspp@uevora.pt

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Version in Portuguese

Version in Spanish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Life-Relict promotes a visit to the woodland of Portuguese Laurel in Cabeça, during the event of Aldeia Natal 2019

On December 14th, the Life-Relict Project team organized an interpretative visit to the woodland of Portuguese Laurel in Cabeça, Seia county. The activity consisted of a pedestrian walk with about 3km in the surrounding of the Cabeça village and was part of the event program called Cabeça, Christmas village. For the 30 or so participants, it was possible to stroll along the Loriga stream as well as observe various species of plants that surround this wonderful village, such as a chestnut tree (Photos 1, 2, 3 and 4).

During the visit several strategic stops were made in order to present to the participants the objectives of Life-Relict project, the various concrete conservation actions that are taking place in this particular territory and, of course, the Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica) which is a rare tree native to the Iberian Peninsula, the French Pyrenees and North Africa, considered endangered by the IUCN and the target-species of this Life project (photos 5 and 6).

The communities of Portuguese Laurel are favored by the presence of some water and, consequently, for their preservation it is necessary to reestablish the flow rates of “levadas”, water conduction channels, formerly used in traditional irrigation. This levada (photo 7 and 8), was in poor condition due to the abandonment of agricultural activity and was recovered by the Life-Relict team being one of the concrete conservation actions for the preservation of the Portuguese Laurel. Another strategic stop was to explain to participants how the Life-Relict team controlled heliophilic bushes in this area, thus reducing the fuel load and therefore reduce the risk of fire. (photo 9).

Participants could enjoy beautiful, unique and genuine landscapes like these in the images (photos 10, 11, and 12). There was also opportunity to overcome challenges and experience adventures. Finally, there were still opportunities to take some group photos before finishing the visit to the Portuguese Laurel Woodland, and the participants got together in a magusto in the community oven of the village of Cabeça (photos 13, 14 and 15).

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On December 27, the pedestrian walk was repeated, this time along the Socalcos Route and organized by Estrela Mountain Interpretation Center (CISE in portuguese), a Life-Relict partner.

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The Communication and Dissemination of Life-Relict Project

During november, the Life-Relict project team has been developing communications at congresses and seminars, which are a integral part of the Project’s communication plan and fundamental to the conservation of nature in general and for the conservation of the Continental Laurissilva Relics in particular.

It was in this sense that Life-Relict went to the LIFE Imperial seminar in Castro Verde, to present an oral communication inserted in “Education, Awareness and Communication” Panel. Thus, the main objective was presenting the Project strategy for public awareness and dissemination. Through this seminar, it was possible to establish a network between other Life projects.

Days later, Life-Relict was introduced to students of a secondary school  in Gouveia, as part of the scientific culture week organized by the Gouveia School Group. Through this lecture entitled “Serra da Estrela – Knowing to conserve”, professor Carlos Pinto Gomes, from the University of Évora, coordenator of Life-Relict project, spoke to the students about the climate, geological history, flora and vegetation of Serra da Estrela as well as the main threats to the conservation of rare species, such as Portuguese Laurel, a conservation target of Life-Relict project. The main objective of this action was to raise awareness and environmental education in the school community about the importance of preserving relic species of Continental Laurissilva.

Subsequently, the methodology for the evaluation of ecosystem services in Life-Relict intervention areas was presented at the III Luso-Extremadurian Congress “Science and Technologies” in Évora.

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Environmental education in Seia

Our partners in Seia made several field trips with pre-school and 1st cycle students in the Project’s intervention area, in Casal do Rei.

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Life-Relict Scientific Commission visits intervention areas

On September 11th, the Life-Relict Scientific Committee met for the second time and, over the course of 3 days, visited all intervention areas of the project. The main objective of this visit is based on the relevance of scientific monitoring, not only directed to concrete conservation actions, but also to the pertinence of specialized advice for the implementation of field management measures aimed at the conservation of the Continental Laurissilva relicts at long term.

This Scientific Committee includes several national and international specialists, such as in botany, geobotany and climate change, as well as representatives of public territorial management entities: Carlos Pinto Gomes (Professor at the University of Évora, specialist in vegetation ecology and coordinator of the LIFE- Relict); Sara Del Río (Professor at the University of León, Spain, specialist on the impacts that climate change has on plant communities); Francisco Vazquéz Pardo (Biologist and coordinator of scientific research projects at the Center for Scientific and Technological Investigations of Extremadura); Eusébio Cano (Professor at Jaén University, Spain, specialist in Mediterranean flora and vegetation); Jean Jacques Lazare (PhD Professor at the Center d’Étude et de Conservation des Ressources Végétales and specialist in geobotany); Pedro Ivo (ICNF Technician responsible for Nature and Biodiversity, specialist in flora and focal point of LIFE projects in Portugal); Nuno Fidalgo (Technician in the Municipality of Monchique in the Office of Civil Protection and Forests); Cristina Garcia (Technician at Serra da Estrela Rural Development Association); Artur Costa (Operational Commander of Civil Protection in the Municipality of Seia) and Alexandre Silva (Superior Technician in the Municipality of Seia and specialist in flora of Serra da Estrela). The Scientific Committee visit to the project’s intervention areas and was also accompanied by the Life-Relict team.

The visit to the project areas allowed the Scientific Committee to observe, at various sites, the interventions already implemented in the field, thus creating an opportunity to debate precise ideas and clarify doubts as to how these and other planned interventions will favor the preservation of the Continental Laurissilva Relicts in the long term. It was also useful to clarify specific points of field interventions aimed at reducing significantly  threats, such as selective vegetation control to reduce the risk of fire and the control of invasive alien species. As a result of this visit, it was possible to exchange knowledge and share experiences between the members of the Scientific Committee and the LIFE-Relict team, thus creating an important moment of mutual learning.

However, during this visit it was also possible to observe other singularities of the ecological richness existing in the various areas of intervention of this project, besides the relict species of the Continental Laurissilva. As an example, in Monchique we observed the monchique oak (Quercus canariensis), the samouco (Myrica faya) and some paper flowers exclusive to this mountain (Armeria beirana subsp. Monchiquensis). In the Mata da Margaraça we observed the oak tree (Quercus robur), holly (Ilex aquifolium), hazel tree (Corylus avellana), mountain elm (Ulmus glabra), as well as other plants unique to this place, such as of finch (Linaria triornithophora). In Serra da Estrela, in addition to the lush landscape, it was also possible to observe the harmonious relationship between man and nature.

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1 – Visiting Pontic Rhododendron in Serra de Monchique
2 – Visit in ​​Monchique’ area where the actions to improve the conservation status of the effective areas of  Pontic Rhododendron are being implemented
3 – Explanations of project intervention areas within the Serra de Monchique.
4 – In the shadow of a beautiful pontic rhododendron, the Scientific Committee receives information on the collection and propagation of vegetative material that will be used to increase the area of ​​this habitat in the Serra de Monchique.
5 – Also in the Serra de Monchique, the area where habitat enhancement actions will be implemented was visited.
6 – The visit to the Mata da Margaraça began by observing the natural regeneration of the burned area in 2017.
7 – Observation of the natural regeneration of the burned area in 2017 in Mata da Margaraça.
8 – Visit the Portuguese Laurel area that is in the best state of conservation in the Mata da Margaraça.
9 – Opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience among specialists in Mata da Margaraça
10 – Near the village of Cabeça, in Serra da Estrela, there was an opportunity to learn more about the project’s intervention area.
11 – Visit to the traditional irrigation levada that was recovered with the objective of restoring the water supply to the existing Portuguese Laurel core.
12 – Professor Conceição Castro was our photographer.
13 – Group photograph with the Scientific Committee and the project team that work in Serra da Estrela.

 


Environmental education actions are taking place in Monchique

As the little ones are the future … Life-Relict is also environmental education!

These days, the students of Monchique have been able to learn more about the Rhododendron, a biological heritage that belongs to all of us, but is especially to them!

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