Urgent measures for the conservation and restoration of species and habitats of Community interest on the Madeiran archipelago

LIFE94 NAT/P/001052

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Henrique COSTA NEVES

Project description:


Made up of islands within the Macaronesian biogeographical region, this archipelago harbours an impressive array of habitats and species of European importance. Examples include the sub-tropical humid laurel forests, relics of the Tertiary era, and numerous fauna and floral. The Selvagen islands, in particular are a favourite habitat for numerous sea bird species such as Zino's petrel (Pterodroma madeira), a small endemic (native) sea bird. Meanwhile, the Ilhas Desertas, on the eastern edge of Madeira, supports the most western population of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). Despite this rich natural heritage, however, illegal tree felling and intensive livestock rearing have disrupted the forest habitats leading to a reduction in their range and, as a result, an increased threat of species loss.


The project’s overall objective was to implement a series of urgent measures for the conservation and restoration of species and habitats of Community importance on the Madeira archipelago. In order to carry out an effective conservation programme, the following specific problems would be addressed:
1. Madeira flora – An inventory of plant diversity and ecology of the laurel forest would be set up, and a site of outstanding floral richness, on the island of Montado de Sabugal, would be purchased;
2. Endangered marine and terrestrial bird species – the actions would include: increasing the knowledge of the ecology of the birds, intensifying surveillance, establishing methods to scare away their predators and protecting their habitats. Measures would also be taken with regards to the monk seal population, including through the creation of a new protected area, the Reserva Natural da Rocha do Navio.
3. Awareness-raising – All these planned actions would be supported by an awareness campaign aimed at the general public, youth associations and the fishing communities.


The project implemented a number of important measures towards its goal of conserving the habitats and species in Madeira. A key achievement was the purchase of a large expanse (350 ha) of excellent quality laurel forest on the relatively small island, the Montado do Sabugal.
1. Various specific actions were successfully implemented by the beneficiary to improve the flora of Madeira. A key result of these actions was an ecological description/ inventory of 1 100 ha of the laurel forest, as well as the reintroduction of three native plant species.
2. A number of project specific actions were directed at protecting specific species, namely marine bird species and the Monk seal population. A new marine protected area, the Reserva Natural da Rocha does Navio, was created, to help the recovery of the Monk seal. Notably, awareness raised by the project among local fishermen is considered to have contributed to the recovery of the Desertas Monk seal population, (with the birth of three pups in 1997.
Actions were also successfully carried out to protect sea birds namely by carrying out measure to reduce damages caused by pigeons (Columba trocaz) to cultivated fields. (These fields are an important complementary source of food for numerous sea bird species.) The beneficiary distributed to local farmers 20 noise-making apparatus to fend off the pigeons, as well as 50 000 m2 of netting to protect the fields from pigeon predation. These measures were reported to have been effective.
3. A number of awareness raising activities were also carried to increase knowledge of the importance of conserving the habitats and species of Maderia. These activities included the development of a visitor and research centre and the implementation of school conferences and visits. Dissemination material developed by the project included children’s T-shirts (i.e., on the Monk seal) and press releases.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Plants


endangered species‚  environmental impact of agriculture‚  protected area‚  island‚  emergency plan‚  land purchase‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

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

Target species

 Calonectris diomedea   Monachus monachus   Pterodroma madeira 

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTDES0001 Ilhas Desertas



Coordinator Parque Natural da Madeira
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The state-owned park authority is responsible for the management of the Madeira Natural Park (Parque Natural da Madeira) – a large biological reserve in Madeira with a unique endemic flora and fauna. It was created in 1982 to safeguard the natural heritage of the archipelago, and contains a number of endangered species including global rarities such as Zino's petrel. The national park encompasses nearly two-thirds of the territory of the island of Madeira, and within it are nature reserves, protected landscapes and leisure zones. Its key habitat is the laurisilva forests.


Project reference LIFE94 NAT/P/001052
Duration 01-OCT-1994 to 30-NOV -1996
Total budget 1,067,000.00 €
EU contribution 800,000.00 €
Project location Madeira(Portugal)


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