Monday, 30 January 2012

Visits from far and near by

Last week, the LIFE Laurissilva Project received Mr. Florian Schoene, responsible for the NABU’s Agriculture, an association dedicated to the study and conservation of birds in Germany (one of the biggest organizations in Europe) and representative of Birdlife in this country.

In vacation with his family in São Miguel for almost a month, the visits to the Priolo Interpretation Center and to the main recovery actions in Serra da Tronqueira were mandatory. Mr. Florian became familiar with the ongoing field work as well as with the results already achieved. The amusement was guaranteed with the presence of one of the youngest members of Schoene’s family, who had a lot of fun going through the Serra da Tronqueira.

The Priolo Interpretation Center also received the visit of a group of students and professors from the Escola Secundária de Ponte de Sor, who were passing by the “Terras do Priolo” and could not leave without visiting the center and knowing a bit more about the Azorian Bullfinch and its habitat.

We thank you all for the visit and hope that staying in São Miguel has exceeded all expectations.

LIFE Sustainable Laurissilva with 6 new seelings in Furnas

In the winter of 2012, the first exterior seedlings were made. These are valuable for the plants that require more space to geminate and for those that have a longer germination period, like the Azorian Holly, the Lilly of the Valley Tree that take longer than a year to germinate.

These seedlings are located in Furnas, in fields provided by the Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Center (CMIF).

We believe that this soil is favorable for the germination of these species since it was once used as a fertile orchard.

Six seedlings were created with Azorian Holly, Lilies of the Valley Trees and Scotch Heather.

We hope these seedlings will flourish and provide many plants in the future!

“Terras do Priolo” applying to the European Sustainable Tourism certificate

The III Forum of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism for the “Terras of Priolo” took place yesterday at the Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Center, promoted by the Regional Directorate for the Environment, following the application procedure of the São Miguel Island Natural Park to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (CETS) for the municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação.

This application involved a participative process of analysis and the definition of common strategies implicating public entities and private enterprises of both municipalities. As a result of this participative methodology, the Action Plan that will be sent to the Europarc as a part of this application was established.

In this forum, in addition to the partner entities a significant number of local entrepreneurs from both municipalities were present.

From this day onwards, the Plan of Action will begin its implementation while waiting for the results of this application.

To get more information on this, please visit the CETS’ blog at

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Three internships successfully concluded in S. Miguel

SPEA received during 2011 three interns, through the Estagiar L and T program of Autonomous Region of the Azores. Ana Mendonça, Ana Gonçalves and Fábio Rodrigues, contributed with success in different works of the SPEA’s projects in S.Miguel’s island.

SPEA benefited from their commitment, enthusiasm and dedication. This program proved to be valuable to both parts.

In the words of Ana Mendonça: “I lived an striking experience and had the opportunity to be a part of different SPEA’s projects that enriched my knowledge about biodiversity in general and avifauna in particular. I got the chance to perform rewarding tasks like organizing an exposition about bird bones, contacted with a variety of people and learn more about other projects developed by other entities.

Ana Mendonça and Fábio Rodrigues

I consider my experience in the internship to be positive and the Estagiar L Program an important contribution for the integration of young graduated people in the labor market. I’m satisfied and I recommend this program to anyone”.

Fábio Rodrigues says: “This work experience was unforgettable. SPEA has given us a good working environment and the opportunity to take part in many courses and activities. One of the most memorable events was the trip we did to Madeira’s Island to participate in the SPEA’s VII Ornithology Congress and I Macaronesia Ornithology Symposium.

In what concerns to the Estagiar Program, I have to refer that it is an important tool for young people that are about to start their professional life. The program is well-defined, with the necessary range to what could happen and to goals to achive”.

Fábio Rodrigues and Ana Gonçalves

In what concerns to Ana Gonçalves, she says: “SPEA is a reference and highlighted entity in the developed work on birds and their habitat conservation, as such I thank the opportunity to be part of their projects.
The Environmental Education is crucial to a conservation project, because it raises people’s awareness to the environmental problems and shows competence in the problems resolution.

Ana Gonçalves and Ana Mendonça

All through the internship, I had the opportunity to take part in different activities that enriched my knowledge, not only in the professional level, but in the personal one too. The contact with different publics that were in the activities payed off and the results obtained in population awareness, about the Laurel Forest and the Priolo in Azores, was very satisfying”.

The Estagiar Program is very valuable and important, since it provides a work experience for young graduated people and represents a boost in their integration on the labor market.

The work in Graminhais helps the recovery of the Peatbog

During the summer, the Life Sustainable Laurel project team worked in the Planalto dos Graminhais closing drainage ditches to help the recovery of the peatbogs, throught increasing the retention and water infiltration. Also, some of the accesses opened inside the peatbogs, that became places of great water and erosion seepage, where closed.

Access path to the peatbogs with signs of erosion

To make this work possible it was necessary to reinforce the team with 5 more people and a machine that made practically all of the dykes that closed the drainage ditches and paths. To date, in this first stage of work, 105 dykes were built.

Around this time of the year, most dykes built until the end of the summer are already fulfilling their purpose, retaining part of the water and distributing the rest in a more homogenous way through the peatbogs. The dykes were built of terrain and then covered with vegetation, stayed on average with 3 to 4m long and about 90cm deep. In specific locations, like in the paths zone, some of the walls had to be a little bit bigger, though the largest one has about 70m long and in the deepest spot has about 1.50m.

This was, without a doubt, an extremely difficult work, however it’s already possible to see the results of these dykes construction and to notice that some of the dry parts have now more peatbog and in some areas the dykes have recovered in a remarkable way. We expect this to be a big step in the recovery of the Planalto dos Graminhais Peatbogs.

First germinations of the year in the project’s greenhouse!

In the beginning of 2012, we verified that the sowing done in 2011 had their first germinations.

Sanguinho (Frangula azorica)

Some of the species where already pricked out to flower vases, where they can develop better. The best results verified were with “Sanguinho” (Frangula azorica) which took 2 months to germinate. In the case of the Laurel (Laurus azorica), the germination took only a month.

Laurel (laurus azorica)

In what concerns to the herbaceous, the “Patalugo” (Leontondon rigens), it took only 2 weeks to germinate. However, this result is very common, given that the herbaceous have a quick germination time and they require less time in the greenhouse.

Patalugo (leontondon rigens)