LIFE TAXUS - TAXUS Restoring yew thickets [9580 * Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods]

LIFE12 NAT/PT/000950

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Contact details:

Contact person: Samuel INFANTE
Fax: +351 272324272
Email: samuelinfante@quercus.pt

Project description:


Yew thickets are sciophilous (shaded thriving) formations, common to river banks in encased mountain valleys, though scarce and relict. Such thickets are dominated by the common yew but include to varying degrees several other species, such as the common holly, the white birch, the English oak, the Pyrenean oak and the European mountain ash.

The common yew, a dioic species, has unisexual reproductive structures, with the feminine and the masculine structures present on different individuals. It has a long lifespan and is found in Portugal only in two Natura 2000 sites: in Peneda-Gers (Atlantic and Mediterranean biogeographic regions) and in Serra da Estrela (Mediterranean biogeographic region). The main threats to its habitat are forest fires, direct cutting, grazing and invasion by exotic species. The habitat 9580* Mediterranean thickets of Taxus baccata.is listed as priority for conservation in Annex I of the Habitats Directive.


Te LIFE TAXUS project aimed to contribute to the restoration of Mediterranean yew habitat, maintaining the diversity of the forest mosaic by enhancing the existing species and increasing its occupation area in the targeted Natura 2000 sites. It planned to also raise awareness of the urgent need of conservation of a very rare forest habitat that is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Conservation actions would take place in the ‘Peneda-Gerês’ Natura 2000 site, focused on improving the habitat’s conservation status, and in the ‘Serra da Estrela’ Natura 2000 site, where in addition to improving the habitat’s conservation status, the project aimed to extend the area occupied by yew thickets.


The LIFE TAXUS project helped improve the conservation status of habitat 9580* Mediterranean thickets of Taxus baccata. It produced 25 000 saplings mainly of yew (Taxus baccata), Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) and common holly (Ilex aquifolium) in a plant nursery. More than 20 000 of these saplings were planted in Serra da Estrela, higher than the 18 000 foreseen, including re-planting to replace dead individuals. The remaining number will ensure the continuity of the project after its end. Additionally, the project defined a methodology for seed collection and treatment that resulted in germination rates of 90-100%. The method is based on collecting the seeds when they are ripe and washing them with water immediately after. After they are dried, direct seeding is performed (stratification not needed, contrary to what is reported in the scientific literature).

Habitat management was performed on 60.2 ha in both Natura 2000 sites targeted: 55.1 ha in Peneda-Gerês and 5.1 ha in Serra da Estrela. This action consisted mainly in the control of sun-loving shrub vegetation by mechanical means. To a much lesser extent, other methods were used, such as the elimination invasive alien plant species (but this is a short term measure as they were only cut), the use of controlled fire to foster pastures and the surgical pruning of trees when needed.

To publicise the results of the project, the team made seven appearances on national TV, while an exhibition attracted almost 5 000 visitors. A school programme engaged nearly 2 000 pupils, mainly from local schools. However, one of the main shortcomings of the project was the lack of a robust monitoring programme that is able to support the results obtained and the long term impact of the project.

The project demonstrates how to achieve the objectives set out in the Commission Communication COM (2011) 244 - "Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020”, especially in regards to the "conservation and development of habitats and endemic endangered species, most of them listed in Annexes I and II of the Habitats Directive".

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


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests


endangered species‚  forest ecosystem‚  protected area‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

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

Target Habitat types

  • 9580 - Mediterranean Taxus baccata woods

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTCON0001 Peneda/Gerês
SCI PTCON0014 Serra da Estrela



Coordinator QUERCUS - Associao Nacional de Conservao da Natureza
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Quercus is the national association for nature conservation in Portugal. It is the largest environmental NGO in Portugal focusing on the study and conservation of nature.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE12 NAT/PT/000950
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 31-DEC -2016
Total budget 376,820.00 €
EU contribution 282,615.00 €
Project location Norte(Portugal) Centro(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (Portuguese version)
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report (Portuguese versi ...
Video link Restoring Yew Thickets (http://www.lifetaxus.quercus.pt/en/documentos-en/galeria-en-2/video/24)


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