Life Terras do Priolo - Active protection of the population of the Azores bullfinch (Priolo) and its habitas and sustainable management of Pico da Vara/ Ribeira do Guilherme SPA's

LIFE12 NAT/PT/000527

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Contact details:

Contact person: Rui Botelho
Tel: 351213220430
Fax: 351213220439
Email: rui.botelho@spea.pt

Project description:


The “Pico da Vara /Ribeira do Guilherme” Natura 2000 site is a major hotspot for biodiversity within the EU and the Macaronesia biogeographical region. It is home to one of Europe’s most endangered birds - the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina). Listed as a priority species for conservation in the EU Birds Directive, it is severely threatened by the growth of invasive alien plant species (IAS), which are destroying the native forests, heaths and shrubs, including the priority, Habitats Directive-listed, Macaronesian laurel forests – which provide a vital food source. The control of IAS, particularly on islands, is one of the priorities of biodiversity conservation in the EU.

The conservation of the Azores bullfinch was the target of a previous LIFE Nature project at this site, “PRIOLO” (LIFE03 NAT/P/000013). Selected as a ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE project, it resulted in new techniques of IAS control, habitat restoration and the improvement of economic benefits to local communities. However, some significant gaps still need to be filled in order to complete this work and secure the site’s priority species and valuable habitats.


The project’s main objective is to implement sustainable management measures for the conservation of the priority Azores bullfinch and the preservation of rare and endangered habitats. Specific project aims are to:

  • Improve habitat quality and access to food sources throughout the year for the targeted bird species;
  • Connect recovered areas of priority laurel forest, by recovering sensitive and sloping areas between the habitats;
  • Assure the long term stability of bird populations and reduce of impact of alien predators;
  • Raise awareness among stakeholders and local people and involve them in the conservation of the site;
  • Promote coordinated management of the site – including developing sustainable public use and increased revenues for local people and for the São Miguel Island nature park, through the promotion of sustainable tourism.
  • Expected results: Some of the project’s many expected outputs are:

  • Recovery of 78.4 ha of habitat on the islands’ higher and steeper slopes;
  • Recovery of 24 ha of habitat on slopes of between 300 m and 900 m, including areas completely taken over by invasive alien species (IAS);
  • Recovery of 4 ha of water line areas;
  • Ecological recovery of 6.3 ha of landslide areas;
  • The creation of 9.6 km of access trails for visitor use;
  • The planting of 200 000 plant specimens from more than 25 native species grown in nurseries;
  • Guidelines for the production of native plants;
  • Best practices in the ecological recovery of slopes;
  • Methodologies for the control of IAS on sloping areas of Pittosporum undulatum, Sphaeropteris cooperi and Dicksonia Antarctica;
  • Strategies for combating IAS;
  • A socio-economic impact report;
  • Detailed mapping of site vegetation;
  • A similar-type mapping of the site’s natural habitats.



Environmental issues addressed:


Biodiversity issues - Invasive species
Habitats - Freshwater


freshwater ecosystem‚  protected area‚  island‚  restoration measure

Target species

 Ammi trifoliatum   Arceuthobium azoricum   Chaerophyllum azoricum   Culcita macrocarpa   Erica scoparia ssp. azorica   Frangula azorica   Picconia azorica   Prunus lusitanica ssp. azorica   Pyrrhula murina   Rumex azoricus   Trichomanes speciosum   Woodwardia radicans 

Target Habitat types

  • 7120 - Degraded raised bogs still capable of natural regeneration
  • 9360 - "Macaronesian laurel forests (Laurus, Ocotea)"
  • 9560 - Endemic forests with Juniperus spp.
  • 4050 - Endemic macaronesian heaths
  • 6180 - Macaronesian mesophile grasslands

Natura 2000 sites

SPA PTZPE0033 Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme - Ilha de S. Miguel



Coordinator SPEA - Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description SPEA is a non-profit environmental NGO that promotes the study and conservation of birds and their habitats in Portugal by promoting sustainable development for future generations.
Partners Secretaria Regional dos Recursos Naturais, Portugal


Project reference LIFE12 NAT/PT/000527
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 30-JUN -2019
Total budget 3,363,260.00 €
EU contribution 2,522,445.00 €
Project location Açores(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


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