ECO-COMPATÍVEL - Communicating for the sustainability of socio economic activities, human use and biodiversity in Natura 2000 network sites in Madeira Archipelago

LIFE09 INF/PT/000045

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Contact details:

Contact person: Sara (still valid post project) FREITAS
Tel: +351 29 1795155
Fax: +351 29 1793803
Email: sarafreitas@gov-madeira.pt

Project description:


Madeira is a rugged island in the Madeira Archipelago. It is relatively densely populated, which can cause conflicts between nature conservation aims and the need for sustainable regional development.


ECO-COMPATÍVEL’s long-term aim was to use educational and awareness raising activities to make regional and territorial development in the Madeira Archipelago (i.e. socio-economic activities such as tourism, fisheries and agriculture) more compatible with EU biodiversity conservation policy (namely the management of Natura 2000 nature reserves, sites, habitats and species listed in the Habitats and Birds Directives).

More specifically, the project aimed to increase the awareness (and hopefully change the behaviour) of: (i) The tourism industry regarding the use and observation of species, habitats, nature reserves and Natura 2000 sites on the islands; (ii) Visitors regarding the islands species, habitats, nature reserves and Natura 2000 sites; (iii) Fishermen and people living in coastal areas regarding potential negative impacts of economic interests linked to the marine environment on the protected areas and their biodiversity; and (iv) Farmers and those living in rural areas regarding potential negative impacts of economic interests linked with the rural environment on the protected areas and their biodiversity.

Project actions were therefore targeted towards the following groups: people working in the field of nature tourism; residents and protected area visitors; and coastal and rural populations involved in socio-economic activities that may negatively impact the protected areas and their biodiversity.


ECO-COMPATÍVEL used information and awareness raising activities to address the issue of conflicts between nature conservation aims and the need for sustainable regional development on the island of Madeira. Communication activities were targeted at specific groups of people and led people involved to take action towards minimising this conflict. The following activities were the core of the project:

  • 42 events/activities working with 378 participants in the field of nature tourism, such as managers and promoters, guides, skippers, etc., to disseminate information about good practices when enjoying designated natural areas;
  • 85 events/activities telling 1 530 participants from coastal and rural areas who are economically and traditionally linked to fishing or agriculture about good practices in fishery/agriculture, promoting biodiversity, the protection of indigenous species and the consequent benefits of doing this to fishing/agriculture;
  • 96 communication actions informing 12 314 nature tourists in the islands protected areas about good practices when visiting these protected areas;
  • 136 communications reaching 9 137 nature tourists outside protected areas. The project partners established a number of partnerships with hotels and other tourism bodies to put on events that would reach such tourists. The long-term idea behind these partnerships was to create a network of stakeholders that support and continue awareness raising activities after the project has finished.
  • Other activities that were carried out included:

  • Starting forums for different group communication activities such as debates and the Eco cards Championship (13 card championships were held in which a total of 376 people played);
  • Producing a travelling exhibition to promote the biodiversity of Madeira and that portrays the project messages in a playful way. The exhibition was present at 41 events reaching more than 30 000 people;
  • Organising the workshop "Development and Biodiversity" to discuss a strategy for a sustainable regional development which was attended by 282 participants;
  • Inventing the eco quiz game: an interactive game (available on the project's website) to teach people about good practices in fishing, agriculture and nature tourism;
  • Establishing four multimedia kiosks which informed people about the project messages and other relevant information and included the eco quiz. Three of the kiosks were placed at protected area visitor centres and one was mobile. The four kiosks registered 51,701 visits during the project;
  • Producing the following promotional materials depicting the project messages: T-shirts, agendas, jackets, wristbands, lanyards, keyrings, hats, paper bags for rubbish collection, pocket eco-ashtrays, decks of cards, mugs, desk bases, cardboard folders, notebooks, pens, USB sticks.

During the project life time partnerships were established with a wide range of private and public entities and joint activities were developed. In total, 91 public and private institutions, including the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic, and 1496 individuals became stakeholders during the project. This cooperation was pivotal to the project’s success and meant that the project actually had a much further reach than expected because so many of the partners organised events/activities linked to the project messages. Examples include the creation of a marine debris monitoring project on beaches in and outside protected areas with the MARLISCO project (an FP7 project aiming to stop marine litter) and working with regional television channel RTP Madeira to produce films that were fundamental to the dissemination of the project.

The implementation of the project contributed to a better awareness of those target groups that directly interact with protected areas and improved their perception of the protected areas and nature conservation. People participating in the activities now know more about the concepts and key messages disseminated by the project and are therefore now better equipped to understand the perspective of the protected area administration. The project therefore contributed to a change in the behaviour of target groups but with different degrees of success for each target group. It is, however, very difficult to measure exactly how much impact the project has had on people’s attitudes towards the protected areas and whether some people’s more positive attitudes are a direct consequence of the project.

One of the main project challenges was trying to reach such a variety of target groups with very different backgrounds. This sometimes meant that the communication strategies in place needed to be adapted to better fit the target audiences. Over its five years, the project proved to be very versatile, allowing the development of communication strategies/materials not initially considered and using new ways to pass on its messages. These included developing innovative “new” (e.g. a "viral" film with a group of hip-hop dancers, graffiti on a wall in a protected area; an artistic installation with waste taken from a beach cleaning in a protected area) and “old” media tools (e.g. card games with card decks specially illustrated with the project messages).

One example of a need to adapt project communication concerned the low literacy levels of fishermen and farmers. In this case, the project partners made particular use of the involvement of the school community in the project - some of the students involved are children of fishermen and farmers and were pivotal in reaching these specific target groups. Another lesson learnt was how it important it is to develop activities with local entities that the target groups trust. Practice manuals containing all project activities were developed to inspire other areas with similar problems and to help them develop their own awareness raising campaigns.

The benefits achieved by the project will be more evident in the long-term. The project served its purpose as a driving force to induce changes in attitudes but the results of these changes will take time to be noticed. It is, however, expected that those who have changed their attitudes because of the campaigns will not return to the old habits.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Services & Commerce - Tourism and Accommodation
Information - Governance - Awareness raising - Information


environmental impact of agriculture‚  environmental impact of tourism‚  natural park‚  protected area‚  biodiversity‚  environmental awareness‚  public awareness campaign‚  island

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Serviço do Parque Natural da Madeira
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation (IFCN IP-RAM) is a public authority with responsibility for natural resources and the protection of nature.
Partners SPEA, Portugal


Project reference LIFE09 INF/PT/000045
Duration 01-OCT-2010 to 30-SEP -2015
Total budget 607,792.00 €
EU contribution 285,646.00 €
Project location Madeira(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report (Portuguese versi ...
Video link "Hip Hop pela Natureza" (4')


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