Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Water Cycle and the Peats of Graminhais

This year the Environmental Centre of Priolo, under the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel began with the Water Cycle activity with some classes of the first cycle of the School of Nordeste.

The first part of the activity takes place within the classroom, with many practical experiences that symbolize the water cycle. In the second part, there is a visit to several sites that mark different stages of this cycle from the spring to its mouth.

This tour begins in the highlands of Planalto dos Graminhais, a habitat of extreme importance for the supply of water to human populations in Nordeste. The Planalto dos Graminhais is composed of mosses of Sphagnum sp. which has a water holding capacity of 20 times its own weight. Here students learn the importance of this habitat for conserving water quality, since with the rain and humidity, these mosses retain water and release it gradually, allowing to control soil erosion, the flow of streams and restoration of water levels in aquifers. Another peculiarity of these plants is the ability to "purify " water by retaining in its structure metal ions and toxic substances.

Through the rain runoff, groundwater and springs, rivers and streams are formed, so the next stop was the river Ribeira dos Caldeirões in Achada. We passed its spring, the Waterfall and Ribeira dos Caldeirões and then the mouth of it, where the river goes into the sea.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I Forum for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in the Lands of Priolo

Yesterday it was held the first Forum for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in the 'Lands of Priolo' in the Auditorium of Povoação. The Forum was attended by about 50 participants from various public and private entities, and several companies not only from the two municipalities involved (Nordeste e Povoação), but also by other places of the island of Sao Miguel.

In this Forum was presented the first phase of the process of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism: the Diagnosis about the Tourism in this area prepared. In the afternoon were created several working groups that identified Problems and Potential and Proposals for the area.

Thank you to all who participated and all who have contributed to this process. For those who want to know more about the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in the Lands of Priolo can go here http://cetsmarcapriolo.blogspot.com/

Our thanks to the Professional School of Povoação for all the help and support in this Forum.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Executive Meeting presents the work done with the exotic and invasive plant species

On 11st May, we held the 10th Meeting of Executive Board of the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel, at the headquarters of Miramar building in the municipality of Povoação.

On the agenda of the meeting was the presentation of the progress on the Planalto dos Graminhais as well as the Greenhouse and Plant Nursery of the project.

One of the topics of this meeting was the presentation of the work with the control of invasive and exotic plants in the areas of natural forest, where they were addressed in the work zone of Malhada and Labaçal.

The day culminated with a visit to the area of Labaçal, where members of the Executive Board were able to observe firsthand the work done on site. In this area, we already completed the control of Yellow ginger lilly, and we are now trying to control the Australian Cheesewood and the subsequent action is to plant endemics in the open spaces.
This work will take place in the last quarter of 2011.

It was possible to verify the natural recovery of some sites after the removal of the exotic plants.
Small heather will naturally occupy some of the spaces now free, and the larger plants now have room to grow. Good signs of recovery in an area that was once close to disappearing between the Yellow ginger lilly and the Australian cheesewood.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Dikes in Planalto dos Graminhais

The Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel has undertaken various actions with the aim of the recovery of the Peats of the Planalto dos Graminhais. One of the most relevant is the blockage of drainage ditches, open when in the past these areas were used for agriculture.

Over the past few months we have been studying and testing models of dikes. An early attempt was to use existing materials on site, (Cryptomeria trunks and soil) where the surface was covered with vegetation to minimize erosion. Such dikes were positive but their construction requires a lot of work and have some negative impact on the surrounding area.

A new model that uses plastic PVC is being tested and is already used in restoration of peatlands
in the UK and in other places of the world; this model was recommended by Normand Russell of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This test consisted of installing a dike with 3.5 m wide and 80 cm deep. Its construction was easy and quick (about 1 hour) and shown to have a low impact on the surrounding area, with visible results within a few days.

The construction of these dikes will serve to retain water, so that it accumulates, allowing a more
favorable growth of the plants that live in these conditions, as is the case of Sphagnum sp.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

News about the Project Lines and Birds of Azores

The Project Power Lines and Birds of the Azores now has a cemetery of birds in a space donated by LIFE Laurel, located in the area of the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel.

The space donated by the LIFE Project will allow the burying of several birds in order to accelerate the decomposition process, so that we can then proceed to cook the bones and all the preparation necessary to ensure that they incorporate a Reference Collection of Bones; which can be used for educational purposes, scientific and research institutions.

11 holes were made to bury 11 different species. Each specimen was placed in a rectangle of wire mesh, with geotextile on the bottom and land on top. This will make it easier to recover all the bones of the skeleton. The animals were also identified and are delimited on the ground.

The Collection includes: 1 Long eared owl, 1 Moorhen, 1 Blackbird, 1 Woodcock, 1 Common Snipe, 1 American nightjar, 2 common teals, 1 Common quail, 1 Dwarf bittern, and a Jack snipe.

Now we must wait until we can collect the bones clean.

Finally, the team of Power Lines wants to thank all the help provided by the team of the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel !

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Fragments of history...

A few decades ago, the place where the plant nursery of native plants of the Azores is installed, was an important farm where they are produced vegetables for consumption in the village of Povoação. Vegetables, oranges, and grapes, were some of the vegetables produced here. You can still see some fragments of this time; there is a vineyard found between weeds, growing near an ancient wall. It was maintained and secured and this year is properly ready to occupy part of the area that was once yours... Let's see if it presents us with some grapes this summer!

Monday, 2 May 2011

News about the Weekend...

This weekend, 30th April and 1st of May, under the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel, the Environmental Centre of Priolo held a Formation for Tourist Guides in the Special Protection Area Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme.

The course was attended by 11 people linked to Biology and Nature Tourism, with interest and enthusiasm in furthering knowledge about the SPA Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme. This initiative aimed to raise awareness of the importance of conserving this area.

The topics covered in this Formation focused on the endangered Laurel Forest, natural vegetation of the Azores, on the various species of avifauna of the region, on the existing Conservation projects, and also on the main threats to this prioritary habitat, essential to the survival of the rare Azores Bullfinch, endemic species to the eastern island of San Miguel.

The themes were presented in the Environmental Center of Priolo, and was complemented with visits to some Conservation areas of the Project LIFE Sustainable Laurel, for example, the area of the Miradouro da Tronqueira, of the Piquinho de Vereda/ Labaçal and the unique Planalto dos Graminhais. Along the way, the participants observed the natural environment, putting into practice the knowledge obtained in identifying birds and plants of the SPA and did not fail to see the fascinating Priolo.