Valongo - Conservation of four rare species in pSCI (Valongo)

LIFE98 NAT/P/005234

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Contact details:

Tel: 351/224227900
Fax: 351/224223517
Email: CPardal@CMValongo.net

Project description:


The Valongo proposed Site of Community Interest (pSCI) hosts mainland Portugal's only populations of three fern species, two of which (Culcita macrocarpa and Trichomanes speciosum) are listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC. In addition, the site has four habitat types listed in Annex I. These fern populations are small and under threat from fire and unlawful collecting as well as from haphazard tourism development. The pSCI is also one of the most important sites for the golden-striped salamander Chioglossa lusitanica, which is found only in the north-western part of the Iberian Peninsula, but is threatened by the destruction and pollution of its streamside habitats.


The purpose of the project was to improve the conservation status of the habitats of Community interest targeted by the project, by increasing their surface area. The project also aimed to safeguard the species of fern and the salamander by increasing the number and size of their populations. Information campaigns were carried out with a view to reducing the negative impact of human activities on the site's conservation status. During its first stage, the project intended to carry out a census of the populations of each target species and to evaluate the impact of human activity on these populations and the habitats. Land purchase was foreseen, as well as on-site management measures, e.g. restoring habitats by eliminating exotic species and planting native ones, or setting up surveillance to combat wildfires and the unlawful taking of specimens of the targeted species. These actions were complemented by scientific monitoring of the habitats and species and by informing the public about the value of conserving the site and the interest and uniqueness of its species.


The project took place at pSCI Valongo, located amongst a densely populated and industrialised area in northwest Portugal. The site hosts four different habitats which are listed under Annex I of the Habitat Directive and the only known populations in mainland Portugal of three Pteridophyta species: Culcita macrocarpa, Trichomanes speciosum (Annex II of the Habitat Directive) and Lycopodiella cernua. Their population sizes are small and they are endangered by habitat loss due to fire and highly proliferating exotic species, collection of specimens and unmanaged tourism. Valongo is also one of the most important sites in Portugal for the Gold-striped salamander, an endemic amphibian of the Iberian Peninsula threatened by habitat loss and dumping of waste in rivers and along riverbanks. The project aimed at the conservation and restoration of habitats and the maintenance of viable populations of the four rare species mentioned above. It has globally achieved its three main objectives:

  • To maintain or improve the population size of the target plant populations: by the close of the project, the populations of the target plant species were expanding, although one of them (Trichomanes speciosum) was still restricted to a single population, which was a risk in case a catastrophic event occur, destroying or severely affecting it.
  • To increase the C. lusitanica population: although there was a population increase in some years during the project period, the global trend of the population was towards stability.
  • To establish a mechanism to continue the project’s actions beyond its end in order to ensure the conservation of the pSCI and the target species.
  • An important contribution to the conservation of this Natura 2000 site was the management plan, which had not been foreseen but was under preparation when the project ended, covering the parts of the site under the beneficiary’s jurisdiction. The local Plano Director Municipal (PDM) was also under revision with a view to changing the planning and constraints maps so that the mines (where the LIFE target species were concentrated) would be classified as special cultural and natural areas and the surroundings as protected forest areas. According to the PDM regulation, both would then be subject to specific restrictions regarding activities that can be authorised within them. The beneficiary also requested the national authorities to designate the area under the national network of protected areas. One outstanding action taken was the expropriation of land for nature conservation reasons. This represents an unprecedented action from a municipality and one of the few examples in mainland Portugal. This project involved the local community mainly through awareness-raising measures, which were fairly successful. The beneficiary also achieved a good dialogue with local associations that use the pSCI, such as speleologists and mountaineers. As to the future, the beneficiary developed a series of parallel actions related to nature conservation inside the part of the pSCI within its jurisdiction, with funds other than LIFE. Most of these were related to and derived from the work done under the LIFE project:
  • Proposal to national authorities to designate the area as a nationally protected area;
  • Reforestation of 18 hectares belonging to the municipality with native species to serve as a demonstration project for private owners;
  • Creation of a support cabinet to help owners apply for funds to restore degraded areas; and
  • Creation of a five person strong fire and surveillance brigade that also controls the exotic species in some areas.
  • Beyond the end of the project, the beneficiary negotiated with the technical/scientific teams that supported the LIFE project so that they were able to continue with the monitoring of the habitats and species.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Amphibians
Species - Plants


endangered species‚  endemic species‚  population dynamics‚  protected area‚  site rehabilitation‚  industrial area‚  nature conservation‚  land purchase‚  management plan‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

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

Target species

 Chioglossa lusitanica   Culcita macrocarpa   Trichomanes speciosum 

Target Habitat types

  • 8310 - Caves not open to the public

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTCON0024 Valongo



Coordinator Câmara Municipal de Valongo
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The beneficiary is a local authority (municipality). In Portugal, the global management of a territory is shared amongst local municipalities. When such territories include Natura 2000 areas, as is the case of Valongo, management is shared by the local municipality, ICN (government body for nature conservation) and other departments of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture.


Project reference LIFE98 NAT/P/005234
Duration 01-SEP-1998 to 31-DEC -2003
Total budget 282,729.00 €
EU contribution 205,127.47 €
Project location Norte(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Website
Publication: Book Title: Conservação de quatro espécies raras em Valongo. Author: Sequeira F. et al. Year: 2004 Editor: Câmara Municipal de Valongo No of pages: 59


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