Asphodelus bento - Asphodelus bento-rainhae - Measures to manage and preserve it

LIFE98 NAT/P/005229

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Contact details:

Project Manager: João Pedro SALVADO AMARO E SILVA
Tel: 351/964864747
Fax: 351/275/773043ou 771237
Email: joao.silva@gardunha.com

Project description:


Asphodelus bento-rainhae is an endemic plant from the Portuguese mainland, where it is only found in a 700 hectare site on the northern slopes of the Serra da Gardunha. It is listed as a priority species in the Annex II of the Habitats Directive. It occurs along the edges of oak (Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica) and chestnut (Castanea sativa) forests. The destruction of its habitat results from forest fires, the conversion of woodland into cherry orchards and the ensuing massive use of herbicides by fruitgrowers, leading to the reduction and fragmentation of its surviving population.

The rate at which Asphodelus' habitat was being destroyed was even accelerating and estimated at around 7 percent per annum when the project began. With that in mind, knowing that the plant population was becoming ever more scarced and fragmented, conservation measures were urgently required.

The project was carried out by an NGO with co-financing from the local municipality and various private individuals living in the district.


The main objective of the project was to reverse the declining trend in the Asphodelus population by restoring its habitat, shoring up the recently isolated population nuclei and preventing forest fires. Measures to this end included planting Asphodelus from seeds cultivated in greenhouses, controlling the development of forest undergrowth, regulating public access to sensitive areas and gardening. The project would run information campaigns aimed at farmers in particular, but also at local inhabitants and visitors, with an eye to preventing forest fires and making agricultural practices more compatible with the protection of the natural heritage. In particular, alternatives to the use of herbicides were to be sought and promoted.


The project achieved several goals aiming at the conservation of the proposed Site of Community Interest (pSCI) and the target species. First of all, it made a major contribution both as regards mapping the distribution of the main Asphodelus bento-rainhae nuclei, namely those outside the pSCI (around 20 percent of the total population), and managing adequately the habitats inside the areas rented and purchased throughout the project. Secondly, various techniques of species interspersion were tried: while the direct transplant of individuals coming from high density nuclei was succesful, the seedlings transplanted from the seed collection which have germinated in greenhouses showed a high mortality rate on its second year, probably due to intrinsic genetic origins within the plants that could not be explained during the project. Fire prevention and control: several fires were detected and extinguished; nevertheless, in two occasions fighting could not prevent the pSCI from being slightly affected.

The reduction of the use of agro-chemicals and fertilisers and the promotion of the diversification of forest uses were tackled through important demonstration actions encouraging sustainable agricultural practices. The work done was successful and 5 farmers were interested in it and participated to the programme (during and after the end of the project). Still, it did not get to significantly change the situation in the pSCI surroundings since those farmers were representing less than 3 percent of the cherry production in the area. According to the beneficiary, this should be done through some kind of compensation scheme, such as agri-environmental measures and high incentives to foster organic agriculture. On the other hand, financial problems of the Fundão Municipality did not allow to fully achieve the awareness-raising objectives foreseen.

As far as rnvironmental policy is concerned, the project contribution to the Natura 2000 network was essential. In effect, given the situation prior to the project (growing urban pressure on the northern border of the pSCI, where many of the key Asphodelus populations were located, and an enormous pressure to install new cherry orchards by destroying Asphodelus habitat), the future of the pSCI and the target species was dependind on the pSCI enlargement so as to include the target species key nuclei located outside. Not only a management plan for the species was adopted, but the pSCIs' limits were enlarged as a result of the findings done throughout the project.

Projects like this one, including areas, which are not part of any national protected area already managed by the ICN (Nature Conservation Institute, the Portuguese national authority responsible for nature conservation), can bring fundamental outputs as to the future management of such Natura 2000 sites. In fact, the ICN is ready hand over such management to the municipalities, once the pSCI plans are approved.

In the future, it would be important to watch the integration of the management plan prepared under the project in accordance with the relevant legal management instruments (especially the PDM, Plano Director Municipal of the Municipality of Fundão), as well as see how local governments succeed in correctly managing a pSCI, while in most cases, they are lacking the relevant experience, staff and funding to get involved in nature conservation issues.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Plants


agricultural method‚  endangered species‚  fire protection‚  protected area‚  botanical conservatory‚  conservation of genetic resources‚  introduction of plant species‚  forest fire‚  cartography‚  policy integration‚  land purchase‚  management plan

Target EU Legislation

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

Target species

 Asphodelus bento-rainhae     

Target Habitat types

  • 4030 - European dry heaths
  • 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
  • 9260 - Castanea sativa woods

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTCON0028 Gardunha



Coordinator ADESGAR - Associação de Defesa e Desenvolvimento da Serra da Gardunha
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Local association aiming at nature conservation and rural sustainable development in the Serra da Gardunha Mountain.
Partners Fundão Municipality local private individuals


Project reference LIFE98 NAT/P/005229
Duration 01-AUG-1998 to 31-JUL -2003
Total budget 740,813.87 €
EU contribution 555,610.40 €
Project location Centro(Portugal)


Read more:

Brochure Title: Two leaflets on the LIFE-project and the species. Author: ADESGAR
Project web site Web page of the project (in Portuguese).


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