zonas costeiras/Açores - Integrated management of coastal and marine zones in the Azores

LIFE98 NAT/P/005275

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Ricardo SERRÃO SANTOS
Tel: 351/292/200400
Fax: 351/292/200411
Email: ricardo@dop.horta.uac.pt

Project description:


The Azores archipelago boasts a natural heritage of great value at Union level, especially its coastal and maritime zones which contain a series of species and habitats listed as priority under the Habitats Directive. However, over the past two decades the increase in human activities has had a negative impact on species and habitats. During this time, several scattered measures for their legal protection were taken, but they generally did not pay attention to managing the activities already going on in nature reserves nor to surveillance of such areas. The application of the Birds and Habitats Directives to the Azores has led to the designation, acting on a more holistic perspective, of 18 pSCIs and 13 SPAs in the coastal and maritime zones. Nevertheless, it remains an important and urgent task to elaborate and apply a range of integrated management measures, if implementation of the Natura 2000 network is to be successful here.


The main purpose of this project was the preparation and partial implementation of management plans on coastal and marine habitats integrated in pSCIs and SPAs. These management plans have targeted, among others, the sustainability of fishing activities and tourist activities such as whale watching. It has been proved - but not quantified to what extent - that these activities have negative impacts on important marine species, such as the priority Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Caretta caretta and the Roseate Tern, Sterna dougallii. Although complex, this was a well-structured project, foreseeing the participation of all the different socio-economical actors. The delineation of the management plans involved the competent authorities, as well as fishermen associations, tourism operators and the local population. Along the four years of the project, several of the measures included in the management plans were implemented in 5 of the pSCIs and actions were developed towards the designation of new protected areas under national law. These targeted two species listed under Annex II of the Habitat Directive: the Bottle-nosed Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta>/I>). In this way, the project was expected to make a major contribution to the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network, through the actual management of several Annex I habitats and several priority species.


This project had five main objectives that were globally achieved and even enlarged, for which the following results are highlighted:

  • The preparation of management plans for 5 marine SCIs and 7 SPAs was accomplished. In the case of the SCIs management plans, the objective was widened by also producing action plans and the format for decrees for the legal definition and regulation of the sites.

    When the project began, there was little information on biological communities and socio-economic context that would allow the preparation of the SCIs and SPAs management plans. The first phase of the work was therefore the collection of data in the field, which included underwater habitat and species census, for which there was very little former experience and therefore presented specific difficulties. The promotion of breeding conditions for the Madeiran Storm Petrel involved the placing of artificial nests and solar powered equipment in desert islets to provide artificial vocalisations to attract nesting birds. This approach was successful on ilhéu da Praia SPA, but not in ilhéu do Topo SPA due to technical drawbacks.

  • Management measures for whale-watching were defined, and additionally resulted in a new regulation on whale-watching.
  • The work to define management measures for fishing activities to reduce by-catch of Caretta caretta was started by the project but then continued through another project which is still ongoing. The results achieved so far indicate that gear modification has excellent potential to reduce sea turtle interaction and bycatch.
  • The partial implementation of the actions foreseen by the management plans produced under the project has been accomplished mainly for seabirds. The eventual formal adoption of the management plans, not possible before the end of the project, will ease the implementation of actions for other species, since the project has produced detailed documents (available through the project’s web site) that provide the basis for an implementation programme. The reinforcement of the restrictions to the use of one of the SCIs and the revision of the existing legislation on cetacean-watching activities is a further achievement.
  • Awareness raising about the marine environment amongst user groups has also yielded remarkable results, and the work developed innovative ideas and produced a large set of materials which were used during the project and also set in motion long-term initiatives.
  • The project made a major contribution to the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network and its management plan preparation and implementation strategies can be used as example for other marine SCIs both in mainland Portugal and elsewhere in the EC.

    Apart from achieving the legal reinforcement of the restrictions to the use of one of the SCIs and the revision of the cetacean-watching mentioned above, the project had another important pump priming effect. The success of the awareness-raising educational kit and associated work with schools raised the interest of a growing number of schools both in the Azores and mainland Portugal, who are now applying it in their classrooms. The success of the SOS-Cagarro campaign also had a similar effect by influencing two other institutions to develop parallel activities. One local NGO produced a poster on the conservation of the species and an Environmental Education Centre from the Ministry of Education made an agreement with the Junta Autónoma das Estradas and created new traffic signs to alert drivers for the presence of young Calonectris (cagarros) during the period they leave the nests and are confused by traffic lights. The outdoor structures left from the last election campaigns were also used to support awareness messages. This project involved the Azores community (fishermen, students, scientific community and general population) together with the economic agents (tourism operators) and the regional authorities around the management of the Natura 2000 coastal and marine sites. After its end, the project succeeded in creating one permanent job for a warden and four other people hired under the project are now working in the continuation and enlargement of part of the actions initiated by Life, now under different projects (funded by INTERREG, ERDF and the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation) As to the future of the project, management plans are being drawn for the remaining Azores N2000 sites not targeted by the project. The teams responsible by this task are the ones that worked under LIFE and are now doing it for the regional authorities, who is financing it through structural funds specific for the Azores region and also with an INTERREG project with Spanish partners. Two other projects have started that will go on researching biology and ecology aspects of cetaceans of the Azores, which will be interesting to monitor the effectiveness and possibly improve the already existing management measures for the populations of those species. The longline bycatch experiment on marine turtles is still ongoing and so are the majority of the awareness measures, both through the schoolteachers and NGOs that were involved by the project and also through the visitors’ centre now working independently.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Marine
Information - Governance - Awareness raising - Information


environmental education‚  protected area‚  marine ecosystem‚  public awareness campaign‚  employment‚  coastal area‚  public-private partnership‚  island‚  management plan

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

 Caretta caretta   Oceanodroma castro   Sterna dougallii   Tursiops truncatus     

Target Habitat types

  • 8220 - Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation
  • 8230 - Siliceous rock with pioneer vegetation of the Sedo-Scleranthion or of the Sedo albi-Veronicion dillenii
  • 8330 - Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
  • 1160 - Large shallow inlets and bays
  • 1170 - Reefs
  • 1210 - Annual vegetation of drift lines
  • 1220 - Perennial vegetation of stony banks
  • 1250 - Vegetated sea cliffs with endemic flora of the Macaronesian coasts

Natura 2000 sites

SPA PTZPE0031 Ponta das Contendas - Ilha Terceira
SCI PTCOR0001 Costa e Caldeirão - Ilha do Corvo
SCI PTFAI0004 Caldeira e Capelinhos - Ilha do Faial
SCI PTFAI0005 Monte da Guia - Ilha do Faial
SCI PTFLO0002 Zona Central - Morro Alto - Ilha das Flores
SCI PTGRA0015 Ilhéu de Baixo - Restinga Ilha Graciosa
SCI PTJOR0014 Costa NE e Ponta do Topo - Ilha de S. Jorge
SCI PTPIC0008 Baixa do Sul (Canal do Faial)
SCI PTPIC0012 Ilhéus da Madalena - Ilha do Pico
SCI PTSMA0022 Ponta do Castelo - Ilha de Sta. Maria
SCI PTSMA0023 Ilhéu das Formigas e Recife Dollabarat (Canal S. Miguel - Sta. Maria)



Coordinator Universidade dos Açores- Dep. de Oceanografia e Pescas
Type of organisation University
Description The beneficiary is the University of Azores, through its department of oceanography and fisheries.
Partners 'None'


Project reference LIFE98 NAT/P/005275
Duration 01-OCT-1998 to 31-MAR -2003
Total budget 1,365,585.71 €
EU contribution 819,351.42 €
Project location Açores(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Website


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