NORTENATUR - Management and conservation of the sites of S. Mamede and Nisa/Laje de Prata

LIFE04 NAT/P/000214

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Carlos Manuel Da Encarnação NOGUEIRO
Tel: 245 301 440
Fax: 245 301 449
Email: amna@mail.telepac.pt

Project description:


The São Mamede and Nisa - Lage da Prata Natura 2000 sites in the north-east of Alentejo, South-Central Portugal cover more than 120 000 ha. They are home to four priority habitats: Mediterranean temporary ponds; Southern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and E. Tetralix; semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates - Festuco-Brometalia; and pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals - Thero-Brachypodietea.

They are also home to a variety of other habitats of Community importance, specifically floating vegetation, rivers, riparian woods, juniper formations, dry heaths, several types of Quercus forests and meadows. It is the southern limit of many species and plant communities, is home to the otter and could provide habitat for the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus).

However, all this diversity is threatened by natural and human forces, in particular inadequate agricultural, forestry and cattle-raising techniques. Actions impacting negatively on the sites include the destruction of natural draining lines and creation of new ones, destruction of temporary ponds by ploughing and the cutting of riparian vegetation and oak species. The sites are vulnerable to forest fires and the expansion of exotic plant species such as Acacia, Eucalyptus globulus and Pinus pinaster.

After the occurrence of a devastating fire that destroyed vast extensions of Quercus forests in Alentejo in 2003, the absence of a correct management of the forest areas was identified as the main cause of the fire propagation.


This project was set up as a pilot for the future management of the two Natura 2000 sites in the north-east of Alentejo. It sought to promote good synergies between relevant actors for the sustainable management of the sites, including the national authority, a regional university and a regional association of forest producers.

Specifically, the project sought to produce a management plan for both pSCIs, covering Quercus montados and associated priority habitats, and integrate it into the existing legal planning instruments. A specific protection plan of priority habitats against forest fires was planned.

Pilot actions were also foreseen to promote sustainable use of Quercus habitats and minimise the impacts of forest fires, including:

    • building of walls and barriers against erosion
    • planting riparian vegetation along water courses affected by forest fires
    • fencing sensitive areas against human pressure and grazing
    • control of herd and cattle density and agriculture and forest practices near sensitive areas
    • restoration of riparian habitats through stabilisation of water courses banks and
    • elimination of invasive species and plantation of native species.

    The project also planned to set up surveillance to avoid juniper cuts inside juniper formations, and a series of awareness-raising measures aimed at the local population.


    The NorteNatur project successfully developed management tools and carried demonstrative management good practices that point the way for good and effective future management of the two targeted Natura 2000 sites in Alentejo, Portugal.

    The project carried out habitats and GIS mapping of the two project sites, generating a charter of natural and semi-natural habitats and an associated publication on the distribution of fauna and flora species.

    This enabled it to produce a draft Management Plan for the Natura 2000 sites, setting out techniques to be applied to different habitats and a Priority Habitats Protection Plan Against Forestry Fires. This created a system for predicting risk of forest fires with a view to taking measures to reduce their number and spread.

    Despite some delays in land purchasing, a series of distinct demonstrative tasks were implemented aimed at protection or restoration of areas at risk of fires or post-fire erosion, including:

      • The protection and recuperation of burned areas with erosion risk over around 55 ha
      • The installation of 2 000 m of fences in the Juniperus habitat around 37ha
      • The conservation of temporary Mediterranean pools or ponds and humid Mediterranean meadows with tall grasses in 45 ha
      • The conservation of 3 ha of humid temperate Atlantic heathlands
      • The recuperation, management and conservation of riparian habitats in two areas of 1.5 km and 10ha, respectively
      • The recuperation, management and conservation of 370 ha of forest oak habitats
      • The conservation of habitats of bushy scrub of Juniperus spp. across 31 ha
      • The control of invasive trees (mainly Acacia spp.) across 47ha.

      The involvement in the project of landowners, local authorities and interested stakeholders was an important success of the project looking towards the long-term sustainable management of the target areas and their protection from fires, soil erosion and the disappearance of the water lines. Additional awareness-raising events included camping activities, walks along the target natural sites, school activities and two workshops directed at the local population. The project produced a 30-minute film, an environmental education publication, the website and the layman's report.

      Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests


fire protection‚  grassland ecosystem‚  protected area‚  forest fire‚  forecast‚  soil erosion‚  land purchase‚  management plan

Target Habitat types

  • 6420 - Mediterranean tall humid grasslands of the Molinio-Holoschoenion
  • 91B0 - Thermophilous Fraxinus angustifolia woods
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 9230 - Galicio-Portuguese oak woods with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica
  • 92A0 - Salix alba and Populus alba galleries
  • 9330 - Quercus suber forests
  • 9340 - Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests
  • 3170 - Mediterranean temporary ponds
  • 3260 - Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation
  • 3280 - Constantly flowing Mediterranean rivers with Paspalo-Agrostidion species and hanging curtains of Salix and Populus alba
  • 3290 - Intermittently flowing Mediterranean rivers of the Paspalo-Agrostidion
  • 4020 - Temperate Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix
  • 4030 - European dry heaths
  • 5210 - Arborescent matorral with Juniperus spp.
  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
  • 6220 - Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea
  • 6310 - Dehesas with evergreen Quercus spp.

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTCON0007 S. Mamede
SCI PTCON0044 Nisa / Lage da Prata



Coordinator Associação de Municípios do Norte Alentejano
Type of organisation Local authority
Description Associação de Municípios do Norte Alentejano is a public association that includes all 15 Portuguese councils of the Portalegre District. It aims to achieve co-operation between its associates regarding common planning and investment strategies.
Partners Instituto da Conservação da Natureza, Portugal FloraSul – Associação de Produtores da Floresta Alentejana, Portugal Universidade de Évora, Portugal


Project reference LIFE04 NAT/P/000214
Duration 01-OCT-2004 to 30-MAR -2009
Total budget 971,590.00 €
EU contribution 485,795.00 €
Project location Alentejo(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Final report of the project (20 MB!)


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