Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Monitoring the Peats

One of the actions of the Project Life Sustainable Laurel is the recovery of the Peats of Sphagnum sp. (better known locally by Musgão) in the Planalto dos Graminhais, located partly in the SPA Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme since 2008 and fully protected by the Natural Park of the Island of Sao Miguel. Since 2009 work is being conducted by SPEA towards a better understanding of the peats.

(Peats of Planalto dos Graminhais)

One of the best indicators for evaluating the quality of the peats is its ability to retain water. So in 2010 the first 19 perforated pipes were placed in order to monitor the water level in the turfs, installed in 24 hectares that are under the management of the Forestry Service. The initial aim was to determine the variations between the rainy season (February) and the driest period (July) of the year; it was found that the only areas where water was maintained throughout the whole year were the areas dominated by Sphagnum unlike other areas dominated by herbaceous and shrubs or even by other bryophytes.

(Installing the monitoring pipes)

With the help of technicians, SPEA has improved this monitoring system with the installation of 39 more perforated pipes in January of this year, that now covers the entire area interventioned by the project. With a view to monitoring more directly, in the month of March, we have identified 10 locations where we settled 30 perforated tubes that, in addition to monitor the water in the turfs, will monitor the water retained in the mineral topsoil. The tubes will be monitored every two months.

(Installing the monitoring pipes)

Working conditions in the peats of Graminhais are demanding, since it is located over 900 m above sea level, presents a very unstable climate which affects the work and where not even in the best of days the site is easy to exploit.

We take now to thank the SPEA team and the one external to the SPEA, responsible for all this work in the conservation of the Peats of Planalto dos Graminhais!

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