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Inventory and mapping of the natural vegetation of Community interest in the Azores

LIFE94 NAT/P/001049


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Contact details:

Project Manager: Eduardo DIAS



Project description:

Background

Situated within the Macaronesian biogeographical region, the archipelago of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands. Its geographical isolation has meant that it is particularly rich in fauna and flora. It has numerous endemic (native) species some of which are living fossils left over from the Tertiary era.
Altogether 23 species and sub-species of the Azores are listed in the annexes of the Habitats Directive. Beyond those listed, little was known (at time of project launch) of the biological richness of the islands. But it was thought likely there were more rare or endangered species, particularly endemics.
Until recently the conservation status of the archipelago was probably quite favourable, due to the fact that there was little development on the islands. This situation, however, was changing and without proper information on the distribution and conservation needs of the species, it was feared that the new development would have serious consequences for the natural heritage of the islands. It was therefore essential to fill these information gaps and establish a basic framework of conservation legislation and management.


Objectives

The project’s main objective was to build upon existing scientific knowledge and intensive field work, to create an inventory of the habitats and endemic species of European interest in the Azores. Specifically, the project aimed to carry out a preliminary evaluation of habitat/ species distribution and draw up a map of potential Natura 2000 sites. Conservation management measures would also be developed. Together, these actions sought to support the sustainable development of the Azores.


Results

The project’s main achievement was the creation of an extensive database (using new information systems) of the Azores habitats and endemic species. A considerable number of field surveys were carried out in order to establish the database. Information on habitat/ species distribution (mapped) was included; and analysis of conservation status and the necessary conservation measures for proposed Natura 2000 sites were also provided.
This important work was the first to provide detailed information on species distribution on all islands of the Azores, their population structure and key risk factors.
The project also established a new classification system for flora found in the Azores, including for bryophytes, which form an important part of Azorean flora, but had previously received little attention. Importantly, a number of new endemic species were identified and recommended for addition to the annexes of the Habitats Directive. A team of experts specializing in the identification and taxonomy of the Azores terrestrial plants was also established.
Finally, various educational and information activities were carried out to raise awareness on the natural vegetation of the Azores.


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Species - Plants


Keywords

endemic species‚  cartography‚  decision making support‚  monitoring system‚  survey‚  island‚  information network


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Universidade dos Açores

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Project reference LIFE94 NAT/P/001049
Duration 01-OCT-1994 to 30-NOV -1996
Total budget 266,667.00 €
EU contribution 200,000.00 €
Project location Açores(Portugal)

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