Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sustainable Laurel Life Project Team Mapping the exotic vegetation in Graminhais

For some weeks now the team of technicians of the Sustainable Laurel Life Project has been dedicated, with the help of the trainees, to the mapping of the exotic vegetation existing in Planalto dos Graminhais, specifically in the area intervention by the LIFE.

We are mapping 3 different exotic species that rise more concern in that peatbog área, which are the Chilean Rhubarb "Gunnera tintoria", Madeira Sweet Pepperbush "Clethra arborea" and the Tree Fern "Dicksonia antartica".

The team covered the 75ha of the intervention area in Graminhais and with the help of the GPS marked every plant of these species that were found. This is a very difficult and tiring work that took time, since it’s a very uneven and soaking ground since its Peatbogs and the weather conditions are not always ideal. 

Tree Fern "Dicksonia antartica"

Despite all, we already finished the area and now we will put the information in the computer which will give us and idea of where this exotic plant are still developing, which ones blossomed again and how many showed up in areas where it didn’t exist before.

This is a very important work not because it allow us to analyze with effectiveness the presence or not of these exotics in that important conservation area and the success obtained in the attempts to remove them in the past years, but also because it will allow us to know if it will be necessary a new human intervention to remove these plants. 

Chilean Rhubarb "Gunnera tintoria"

Besides the monitoring of exotics, we also did the mapping of the Azorean Juniper "Juniperus brevifolia" in Graminhais, helping Lourdes Perez on the investigation work that she’s developing with us, about  the distribution map of the Azorean Juniper in the SPA Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme and the dendrometric study of the species. 

Azorean Juniper "Juniperus brevifolia"

Lands of Priolo guide available online

In a holiday season if you need ideas to occupy your days it is available in the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism blog the Lands of Priolo Guide. While the second edition isn’t ready you can see the online version edited in 2011.
In this guide you can find information about the flora and fauna existing in SPA Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme, the geological patrimony, places to visit, roadmaps, accommodation and restaurants in the councils of Nordeste and Povoação, among other information. 

Visit our page HERE and discover the Lands of Priolo.

Executive Commission gathers once again

After the intense week of the II Atlas of Priolo, it took place last on July 2nd the 14º Executive Commission reunion of the Sustainable Laurel Life Project. This commission gathers all of the project partners regularly to a status report of the project’s development.

On the afternoon it was possible to visit the work that are in the making in Planalto dos Graminhais, namely, the recovery of the path that goes through this area.

It was also possible to see the different species of sphagnum (tufts) that are in intervened area, as well has the development of species such as the Azorean Blueberry and the Azorean Juniper.

II Atlas of Priolo had more than 55 volunteers

It took place from June 25th to June 30th the II Atlas of Priolo that took place in the councils of Nordeste e Povoação, a totality of the specie distribution area.

More than 55 volunteers collaborated in this event that allowed the information registration of more than 300 points distributed by almost the totality of the two councils, covering around 15000ha.

In a preliminary analysis, the data obtained lead us to believe in a stabilization of the specie, since the number of priolos registered and the number of points with priolos is very similar to what was registered in 2008.

We hope to complete the analyses on the data obtained soon.

Students from the school of Povoação visited the greenhouse

The Sustainable Laurel Life Project is collaborating with a class from the Primary and Secondary School of Povoação in a short term project. Every month this class visits the Sustainable Laurel Life Project’s greenhouse, in order for them to do some volunteer work in the plants nursery.

Always very curious and hardworking, these students have been doing maintenance work in the greenhouse, where they do some work like take out of the vases or boxes the weeds so the plants can germinate.
Besides that, they collaborate in some pricking-out, in other words, to put small plants in definitive vases or boxes, a very important work to the plants production.

With great enthusiasm and commitment the volunteer students usually want to know more and question how all the work is done in the greenhouse, from the sowing to the plantation.
Therefore, I hope to see them committed every month and with a lot of energy.

Come and visit our greenhouse and learn a little bit more about the plants from the natural Azorean Forest. Contact: Filipe Figueiredo 918 536 022

Celebrations of Children’s Day in Povoação

It was on July 1st that the Comission for the Protection of Children and Youth of Povoação (CPCJ) organized on the village of Povoação activities to all the council children. SPEA, through the Priolo’s Environmental Center and the Sustainable Laurel Life Project, was one of the entities invited to participate where held some activities related to the flora and fauna existing on the SPA Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme.

This year, Povoação was attended by near 500 children from all the municipalities from the council, which were divided in three groups: the red group, with children from preschool, the blue and the yellow group, both with students from the primary school. 

These activities took place from 9.30am to 2.30pm in three different spaces in Povoação: in the Sportive Pavilion where they had the inflatable that were the joy of the children; in the Auditorium where the children saw the Clown Pézinho show. The third space was in the Gym of the Primary and Secondary School of Povoação, where SPEA prepared the games “Discovering Laurel Forest” and “Discovering the Birds”, were the children had the opportunity to get to know better the nature that surrounds them. 

Besides that the preschool students had the opportunity to listen to the story “Jaime’s Tale” with role-play. In total, SPEA received throughout the morning and the beginning of the afternoon near 500 children.

The Vocational School of Povoação also promoted, in the Primary and Secondary School of Povoação playing field traditional games, facial painting and a mural where the children left their hand marked.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Biodiversity Weekend filled with activities

It took place on the weekend of 2 and 3 of july, the Biodiversity Weekend on the Forest and Recreation Reservation of Cancela do Cinzeiro in Pedreira, Nordeste. This event is a joint organization of SPEA, Regional Direction of the Forestry Resource and the São Miguel Natural Island Park, celebrated the International Biodiversity Day (May 22nd) and the European Day of the Natural Parks (May 24th).

With a the most varied activities planned to all ages, to do in family or alone, enjoying the contact with nature in a healthy way and with the minimal inpact. The Saturday started out with a walk to Pico da Vara. Despite the weather that was very foggy, the participants were satisfied with the experience promising to repeat it! On that same day it took place a information session about the São Miguel Natural Island Park in Priolo’s Environmental Center.

Throughout the day, people that visited the Forest Reservation of Pedreira ha the opportunity to walk across the Park on horse drawn carriage rides, an unique experience that allowed them to get know better that parquet. The day ended with some volleyball games of great level!

On Sunday, it took place in Serra da Tronqueira a horse ride, in which participated 17 riders from Equiaçores and the Associação Equestre de São Miguel. This ride took 2h30 and all the participants were very satisfied with it and with an enormous willingness to repeated it, with better meteorological conditions, since that was the first time that they did some like that in the Lands of Priolo.

It also took place a Orientation session promoted by the Orientation Club of São Miguel, followed by a sprint race of orientation in the Forest and Recreation Reservation of Cancela do Cinzeiro. The day ended with a barbecue with all those present, where in the end everyone singed happy birthday to Priolo’s Environmental Center 5th anniversary, and there even had cake!

Besides these activities, it took place on both day horse drawn carriage rides, guided visits to the Priolo’s Environmental Center and the Discovering the Laurel Forest in the endemic park, traditional games, minigolf, wall climbing, among other things.

This was another Biodiversity Weekend filled with nature activities! See you next year!

On the tracks of Pico da Vara with CALAG

(Pictures by José Enes Xavier 
SPEA and the Activity Center of Lagoa – CALAG, through the Laurel Life project, organized a trek to Graminhais and Pico da Vara. In a day of mist and sun, the participants got to know a little bit better the work done by the project  and the beautiful landscapes in this area.

This walk allowed them see a lot of the native vegetation on the slopes of Pico da Vara. From the Azorean Juniper to the Azorean Blueberry blossoming, the flora was also one of the many attractive in this trek. 

For many of them, this was the first time that they went through these rails and, despite the tiredness in the end, the satisfaction was big among everyone. 

In the end, the barbecue in the Forest Recreation Reservation of Cancela do Cinzeiro, with a guided tour to Priolo’s Environmental Center, was another one of the companionship and discovery moments. Come back always.

Searching for the Azorean Juniper

Since April, that the team from the Sustainable Laurel Life Project, is looking  to obtain more information about one of the most emblematic trees from the azorian endemic flora, known has Azorean Juniper or Juniper (Juniperus brevifolia). This species and their forest formations are protected nationally and internationally. 

The Azorean Juniper is a key species in many natural communities in Azores. His decline may have serious consequences in the natural ecosystems, on the quality and quantity of the water resources, in the soil retention and in the islands flora and fauna.
 Juniperus brevifolia shrub-like

Nowadays the Azorean Juniper woodland was reduced by human action. Since inhabiting the islands that this species where exploited to feed the cattle, to obtain vegetal coal, implementation of pastures and in the civil construction and furniture.

With this study we aim to get to know, in more detail, the species distribution area and conservation status in the Special Protection Areal Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme, in the municipalities of Povoação and Nordeste, the last patch of natural vegetation of São Miguel’s island.

The first phase of work is to identify the Azorean Juniper patches in Serra da Tronqueira, Graminhais, Pico Verde, Pico da Vara and Pico Bartolomeu, among others, to do so it was used a photo interpretation and validation on the field. After this first phase is concluded it will be carried out a sampling from these populations to determine their structure.

This work is being coordinated by Lourdes Peñil, a Forest Engineer from Universidade Politécnica de Madrid (Spain).

Pico Bartolomeu's observation

Sustainable Laurel Life Project receives two new trainees

The Sustainable Laurel Life Project received on May 7th of 2012 two new trainees. Jokin Gaona and Ana Jimenez will stay on the project, in São Miguel’s island, until July 30th.

Jokin is 26 years old and he’s from the Basque Country where he studies Organization and Management of the Natural Resources and Landscape in the in the Fraisoro Vocational School, in Zizurkil. Ana Jimenez is 30 years old and she’s from Madrid, however she’s studying in the Basque Country, being classmates with Jokin.

Both are part of the Sustainable Laurel Life Project where they provide support on the conservation actions on the peatbogs and in the endemic greenhouse.

SPEA welcomes these two new team members and wishes them a pleasant stay and a good work in São Miguel.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Volunteer day in the Peatbogs of Graminhais

On the 5th of May, SPEA carried out a volunteer work, included on the activities of the Sustainable Laurel Life Project, for the protection of the Peatbogs of Planalto dos Graminhais.

The accession to this initiative was very positive having exhausted all 15 vacancies available to the activity. Not even the adverse climacteric conditions on that Saturday kept the volunteers away!

So, since for the majority of the participants this was the first time they would be in contact with this natural habitat, in the beginning it was given a small explanation about the characteristics of the peatbogs and about their importance, not only on the ecologic level, but also their importance on the water storage and quality.

Next, work had begun by forming two teams, one responsible for the construction of dykes with plastic sheets in the light of closing down a drainage ditch, this team set up exclusively with girls demonstrated great enthusiasm   and their efforts were rewarded with the almost immediate water retention by the dyke after his conclusion.

The second team was responsible by the installation of sphagnum bags (affectionately baptized by the team has hamburgers) in a basin build last summer and that has been retaining a great amount of water, this way creating conditions to buildup a new peatbog area, work done with great success by all the intervenient.

In the middle of the day it was made the well deserved break for lunch and not even the intense fog and some wind prevented the good mood. After lunch the teams swapped so that everyone could try the different recovery actions in the peatbogs.

Around 3p.m the climacteric conditions aggravated and the rain made us finish this activity, with a very positive outcome of two dykes constructed and the installation of 50 bags of Sphagnum that covered the basin that was being intervened.

Without a doubt an initiative to repeat!

“The Water Route” returned once again to the Ribeira dos Caldeirões

The partnership between the Primary and Secondary Eco-School of Nordeste and the Priolo’s Environmental Center promoted, once again this year, the activity “The Water Route in Nordeste” with three 5th year classes, in a total of 66 students. This activity is supposed to explain to the students the water cycle and how this water is collected and conducted to our homes, so that it is available when we open the tap. This event consists of three sessions.

In the first one the students did educational experiments in the school labs that helped them understand the natural water cycle, the importance of the vegetation to avoid soil erosion, ensuring the infiltration and the properties of the water.

In the second session, the students went on a field trip to different points of the course of the Ribeira dos Caldeirões in Achada. The first location that was visited was the peatbogs in Planalto dos Graminhais, an habitat of great importance not only to the great amount of water retention but also to her purification. Being this a fundamental resource to life, this habitat has a high conservation level. Here the  students could see the results of the conservation work on the Peatbogs made by the Sustainable Laurel Life Project, coordinated by SPEA.

Throughout this visit they travelled to a nascent and to the water reservoirs of Achada (Nordeste) where everyone understood their importance to the water supply to the population. The visit from the classes of 5th A and 5th B ended in the park of Ribeira dos Caldeirões where, besides a well deserved picnic, every youngster could identify some of the other uses that water has, like the water mill, in the old days used to maize the corn, the production of electricity, among others.

On the may 3rd, the 5th C class continued the activity by cleaning the garbage on the mouth of the Ribeira do Caldeirões. The collected garbage was dumped in the sanitary landfill of Nordeste, where the students could also learn how to do the correct disposal of garbage. Everyone understood the importance of reuse packages and reduce the amount of garbage that we all are producing in the expectation of a cleaner future.  

The Priolo’s Environmental Center thanks the participation of the Primary and Secondary of Nordeste, the Nordeste’s Health Center, the company “Nordeste Ativo” and the technicians from the Sanitary Landfill of Nordeste.

These kinds of activities are essential on the environmental education in the youngsters.
We hope to make an increased effort to do so.