The Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) received on July 18, during the celebrations of 499 years of the municipality of Nordeste, the Medal of Municipal Merit linked to the environment. This medal is to recognize the work done by SPEA in environmental terms, especially in the preservation of Priolo, endemic bird of Nordeste and Povoação.
SPEA began regular work in Nordeste 12 years ago and throughout this period has developed two LIFE projects covering this county. These projects were dedicated to the recovery of the natural heritage of great value in this region, including the recovery and conservation of the laurel forest and Priolo.
This restoration work on the Laurel Forest, which has allowed the preservation of Priolo, has focused on the SPA Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme, in the municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação. The LIFE Priolo project was first undertaken by SPEA in this county and had a significant economic and environmental impact, and even won several awards such as "Best of the Best - Nature". It was followed by the LIFE Sustainable Laurel Forest Project, that ended in June 2013, dedicated to the recovery of the two priority habitats existing at European level here, the natural laurel forest and the Peatbogs, promoting the recovery of a greater number of areas in the SPA.
These projects have assumed great importance since they create anual jobs in the municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação, has reached more than 150 companies in the Azores and have an impact on the region's GDP, estimated in 2008 at about € 350,000 annual contribution. Also in terms of the recovery of natural areas that provide important services to the population (quality and quantity of water and soil protection, for example). Another strong point is the promotion and dissemination of the Azores and its natural heritage that has been a major point of attraction on the tourist level.
Looking once again to combine the conservation of natural values with the promotion of sustainable development for the municipality, SPEA together with other partners, including the CMN and the Regional Government, managed under the LIFE Sustainable Laurel Forest Project, the assignment of the European Charter for Sustainable Development for the Lands of Priolo (municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação).
The assignment of CETS resulted in the development of a joint action plan for public and private companies for the contributing for the development of sustainable tourism, but also benefitingcfrom the conservation of Priolo and its habitat. This Charter also allowed the inclusion of Nordeste in the European network of more than 100 natural areas in 13 countries.
Also under this Charter, this year it began the implementation of the Priolo Brand for tourist-oriented businesses, that has been joined by nearly two dozen entities, looking through a joint effort to increasingly make Nordeste and the Lands of Priolo in a nature destination, boosting the local economy and providing new sustainable alternatives for thje people of Nordeste.