Cons. Costa W - Species and habitats conservation in Portuguese Western Coast

LIFE04 NAT/P/000212

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Carlos Albuquerque
Tel: 21 351 9247200
Email: pnsc@icn.pt

Project description:


The project was located in the Parque Natural de Sintra Cascais (Sintra Cascais national park), an SCI (site of Community importance), within the Natura 2000 network, to the west of Lisbon. The site hosts a series of rare coastal habitats and endemic plants, some with very restricted distribution ranges and most facing declining population trends, and in urgent need of conservation action.

Among the targeted habitats, the project aimed to restore priority fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation (grey dunes), priority dune juniper thickets, Thermo-Atlantic grey dunes with Crucianellion maritimae, Malcolmietalia dune grasslands and dune sclerophyllous scrubs of Cisto-Lavenduletalia.

The project also targeted three Portuguese endemic plant species: (Ionopsidium acaule, Verbascum litigiosum, a species with a very limited distribution area, Herniaria maritima); and the rare fern, Asplenium hemionitis – a Macaronesian species that has found shelter in some microclimatic sites in Continental Portugal.

The main threats to all these species are due to the cleaning of walls that sustain traditional stone terraces, as well as changes in their construction with the gradual replacement over the years of traditional stone with brick and cement. A lack of awareness among the local population, the small size of the populations of some of the species (A. hemionitis, H. maritime and V. litigiosum) and the trampling of dunes by people and vehicles had also affected their conservation status.


The project aimed to: restore 10 ha of dune habitats; to halt the regressive trend and increase the distribution area and population sizes of Verbascum litigiosum, Herniaria maritima and Ionopsidium acaule; and avoid the isolation of populations of Asplenium hemionitis (through increasing its population size and merging adjacent population nuclei).

In order to achieve its objectives, the project would prepare an action plan for A. hemionitis, collect seeds from the target plants and create a plant nursery for their propagation. The resulting seedlings would be used for plant reinforcements in situ, their survival rates evaluated and the wild populations monitored.

These actions would be complemented with the fencing of especially sensitive areas, the building of traditional stone walls, the reposition of sand in degraded dunes, the in situ seeding of Juniperus turbinata and associated species of the habitat (code 2250), V. litigiosum, H. maritima and I. acaule, and monitoring of the dune ecosystems.

The project also planned a series of awareness raising measures aimed at local people and public institutions.


The project was divided into two components, the recovery of the Asplenium hemionitis population and the recovery of the dune ecosystem. The actions associated with the first component were carried out successfully and in line with the proposal. The most outstanding results included:

  • Production of the A. hemionitis conservation plan.
  • Reinforcement of the population in five known nuclei with some 400 new individuals. (nuclei reinforcements allowed a closing of distance so that the maximum distance between a new and an old nuclei is now 700 m).
  • Successful species reproduction in the small plant nursery installation (reaching densities of 80 individuals/ dm2).
  • Construction of a stone wall in the beneficiary’s facilities to test different transplanting conditions.
  • An increase in population size e.g. from 2004-07 the number of known nuclei doubled and the number of specimens also almost doubled); and a merging of adjacent population nuclei;
  • In addition, a leaflet and a poster on A. hemionitis was published and a best practices manual produced on wall and bank restoration.

    Concerning the second component, i.e. the recovery of dune ecosystems, unfortunately, the area addressed by the project was substantially less than foreseen at the start of the project (about a third of the original target). Nevertheless, in this reduced area, the project goals were respected. The key results were:

  • Construction of 510 m of stone walls.
  • Construction of some 1 000 m of fencing.
  • Restoration of dune habitat through the use of biodegradable ‘blankets’ for protection from trampling/ vehicles etc.
  • Restoration of dune habitats through seeding.
  • Plantation of 8 300 specimens of local species.
  • The filling of ravines with branches of trees (not quantified).

Various awareness raising measures were successfully carried out and materials such as posters, brochures and leaflets etc., distributed among the key local stakeholders. Activities were also run for the local nursery and primary schools.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Coastal


restoration measure‚  protected area‚  coastal area‚  nature conservation

Target species

 Asplenium hemionitis   Herniaria maritima   Jonopsidium acaule   Verbascum litigiosum     

Target Habitat types

  • 2130 - Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation ("grey dunes")
  • 2230 - Malcolmietalia dune grasslands
  • 2250 - Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp.
  • 2260 - Cisto-Lavenduletalia dune sclerophyllous scrubs

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Instituto da Conservação da Natureza Parque Natural de Sintra/Cascais
Type of organisation National authority
Description The beneficiary is the Parque Natural de Sintra Cascais (Sintra Cascais national park), a public institution, Instituto da Conservação da Natureza (ICNB) – the national authority responsible for nature conservation in Portugal.
Partners Câmara Municipal de Cascais, Portugal


Project reference LIFE04 NAT/P/000212
Duration 01-AUG-2004 to 31-JUL -2008
Total budget 399,162.00 €
EU contribution 199,581.00 €
Project location Lisboa e vale do Tejo(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website (PT)


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