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LIFE: Species and habitats conservation in Portuguese Western Coast

Type of Entry: Project
Duration: 01/08/2004 - 31/07/2008

Project background

The project targets the pSCI Sintra/Cascais, West of Lisbon, which hosts a series of coastal habitats and endemic plants of community importance, some with very restricted distributional ranges and most facing regressive population trends, hence being in need of urgent conservation action.Among the target habitats that the project aims at restoring are priority fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation (grey dunes), priority dune juniper thickets, Thermo-atlantic grey dunes with Crucianellion maritimae, Malcolmietalia dune grasslands and dune sclerophyllous scrubs of Cisto-Lavenduletalia. The target species are 3 Portuguese endemic plants (Ionopsidium acaule, Verbascum litigiosum, a species with a very limited distribution area, and Herniaria maritima), and the rare fern Asplenium hemionitis, an otherwise Macaronesian species that has found shelter in some microclimatic refuges in Continental Portugal.The main factors threatening all these species are the cleaning of walls that sustain terraces and changes in their construction techniques by the gradual replacement of traditional stone by brick and cement that has occurred along the years. The lack of awareness from the local population, the small size of the populations of some of the species (A. hemionitis, H. maritime and V. litigiosum) and the trampling of dunes by people and vehicles also affect their conservation.

Project objectives

This LIFE project aims at restoring 10 ha of dune habitats, stopping the regressive trend and increasing the distribution area and population sizes of Verbascum litigiosum, Herniaria maritima and Ionopsidium acaule and avoiding the isolation of populations of Asplenium hemionitis through increasing its population size and merging adjacent population nuclei.In order to achieve its objectives, the project foresees the preparation of an action plan for A. hemionitis, the collection of seed of the target plants and the creation of a plant nursery where their propagation will take place. The resulting seedlings will be used for plant reinforcements in situ, their survival rates evaluated and the wild populations monitored. These actions will be complemented with the fencing of especially sensitive areas, the building of traditional stone walls, the reposition of sand in degraded dunes, the in situ seeding of Juniperus turbinata and associated species of the 2250 habitat, V. litigiosum, H. maritima and I. acaule, and monitoring of the dune ecosystems. The project also foresees a series of awareness raising measures aimed at the local population and public institutions, namely, the publication of a good practice guide regarding wall and terrace restoration (paper and CD-Rom versions), posters, brochures and leaflets on "A. hemionitis and its conservation" for land owners and users of the areas, awareness panels on the same theme to be displayed on site, a web page, a layman’s report, leaflets on dune ecosystems and their conservation and awareness panels on the same theme to be displayed on site.

Keywords: Nature conservation
Contact: Carlos Albuquerque
Instituto da Conservação da Natureza Parque Natural de Sintra/Cascais
R. Gago Countinho, 21
2710-566 Sintra
Telephone: 21 351 9247200
E-Mail: pnsc@icn.pt
Partner: Câmara Municipal de Cascais.
Budget: 399.162