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Inagua - RESTORATION OF BURNT ENDEMIC PINE WOODS AND RECOVERY of ITS THREATENED FLORA AND FAUNA

LIFE07 NAT/E/000759


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Contact details:

Project Manager: José CARRILLO MOLINA
Tel: +34 928 306 472
Email: jcarmol@gobiernodecanarias.org



Project description:

Background

The SPA, SCI and Natura 2000 area ‘Ojeda, Inagua y Pajonales’ is included in the Biosphere Reserve of Gran Canaria. This nature reserve is publicly owned and unoccupied (apart from park staff and fire brigade), but is used by the public and for scientific research. It represents an excellent example of the habitat Macaronesian Pine Forest. The area is ecologically vulnerable, with a large number of endemic species and significant birdlife; including 95% of the total species’ population of Canarian blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea), which is in danger of extinction. In 2007, the area was devastated by an intense fire. About 14% of the area was greatly affected, 80% was partially affected, and only around 6% was untouched by the fire. The whole habitat range of Canarian blue chaffinch was affected; the species population declined to 48% and is further threatened by habitat fragmentation and a higher risk of predation. Endemic plant species, such as Dendriopoterium pulidoi, Teline rosmarinifolia, Helianthemum bystropogophyllum and Isoplexis isabelliana, were also badly affected by the fire. The recovery of the ecosystem needs close monitoring. Species with small population size may need extra help to boost their conservation status and ensure their survival in the long term.


Objectives

The objective of the LIFE project was to supplement the natural recovery of burnt areas of endemic Macaronesian pine woods (Habitat 9950) in the protected area of Ojeda, Inagua y Pajonales. The project aimed to enhance the conservation status of several threatened plant species and the population of blue chaffinch through habitat restoration and other management actions. Surviving pines were to be protected and restored to help their propagation, with goat and rabbit populations controlled to allow natural regeneration. Further aims were the establishment of a fire plan to reduce future risk and a plan to assess the monitoring of habitat recovery, an exchange of experiences between managers facing similar problems, and the design of an awareness-raising campaign concerning the value of Macaronesian pine woods.


Results

The Inagua project had direct positive effects on the conservation status of the endemic Macaronesian pine woods in the Biosphere Reserve of Gran Canaria and its threatened bird and plant species. The project also provided a series of tools, knowledge and best practices that will be of high value for the area’s long-term management and recovery. Practical conservation measures, such as the reduction of grazing pressure and habitat enhancement, have speeded up the recovery of habitat damaged by the severe fire event in 2007. A major practical outcome is the recovery of the blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) population, back to an optimal pre-fire level of around 280 individuals. The project updated and completed a Blue Chaffinch Recovery Plan (which was first drafted in the framework of project LIFE98 NAT/E/005354) using information collected during the field studies; this was officially approved in November 2013. The project has also improved the conservation status of the most threatened endemic plant species: Dendriopoterium pulidoi, Teline rosmarinifolia, Helianthemum bystropogophyllum, Limonium sventenii and Isoplexis isabelliana. Most of these species were in a critical state due to the fire before the project (e.g. Isoplexis isabelliana was down to four individuals in the wild), but they started an impressive recovery as a result of restoration activities; though this was lower for Dendriopoterium pulidoi due to difficulties in accessing and fencing the sites. A particular challenge the project had to overcome to implement activities was working in very remote, hardly-accessible mountainous areas.

The project team, comprising the Regional Government of the Canary Islands, the Cabildo (local government) of Gran Canaria and the public company GESPLAN, delivered useful information about the recovery of the pine woodland ecosystem after fire events. A Study of Fire Regime document was produced, which will be of value for the future management of the Inagua reserve and similar ecosystems affected by fire. Among the other project activities was the control of rabbit and goat populations with adapted methods of capture; the implementation of innovative irrigation techniques to make the best use of the existing water resources; the maintenance of water points for blue chaffinch; and seed collection, seedling growth in nurseries and planting of threatened plant species. Fencing and stand-alone drip-irrigation were key measures in the recovery of the plant species, facilitating high germination, survival and regeneration rates.

The dissemination activities made the project’s results known to the local population and tourists on Gran Canarian. In particular, a mobile exhibition and a book about the Inagua reserve reached a wide audience. This publicity resulted in an increase in requests for access permits, with possible beneficial knock-on effects for the local economy. A continuation of dissemination activities by the beneficiaries is serving to reach conservation and management bodies outside Spain, as well as policy makers and land managers, to promote the future transferability of project results.

Field sampling and data collection are being continued post-LIFE. This is particularly important for assessing the pine wood restoration process after fire events, as few definitive conclusions could be reached during the relatively short duration of the project. Continuing some actions, such as the control of goats, will also be necessary. The project has importantly contributed to the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Habitats - Forests


Keywords

endangered species‚  biosphere reserve‚  forest ecosystem‚  forest fire‚  island


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)

Target species

 Dendriopoterium pulidoi   Fringilla teydea   Helianthemum bystropogophyllum   Isoplexis isabelliana   Limonium sventenii   Teline rosmarinifolia 


Target Habitat types

  • 9550 - Canarian endemic pine forests

Natura 2000 sites

SCI ES0000041 Ojeda, Inagua y Pajonales
SCI ES7010039 El Nublo II


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Gobierno de Canarias. Dirección General de Protección de la Naturaleza
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The beneficiary is the department of natural environment of the regional government of the Canary Islands. Nature conservation is shared with the local governments ('Cabildos') of the different islands. The approval of management plans for sites and recovery or conservation plans for species is assigned to the regional government. However, site or species management belongs to the 'Cabildos'.
Partners Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Spain

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Project reference LIFE07 NAT/E/000759
Duration 01-JAN-2009 to 31-DEC -2012
Total budget 1,169,369.00 €
EU contribution 584,685.00 €
Project location Canarias(España)

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Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan Plan de conservación Post LIFE
Publication: Layman report Layman report

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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version