LIFE RELICT - LIFE RELICT - Preserving Continental Laurissilva Relics

LIFE16 NAT/PT/000754

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Contact details:

Contact person: Carlos José Pinto Gomes
Tel: 351760220
Email: dpi@uevora.pt

Project description:


Portugal’s Article 17 Report (2007-2012) of the Habitats Directive on the conservation status of the habitat type, Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis, concluded that it was “inadequate” for both the Mediterranean and Atlantic biogeographical regions. That report also considered the habitat area as “inadequate/declining”. One of the main threats faced by this habitat is invasive alien species, especially plants in the genus Acacia and Hakea. The project area includes the most representative areas for the priority habitat in Natura 2000 network sites in Portugal: Monchique, which is one of the two unique areas of Rhododendron ponticum communities in Portugal; Serra da Estrela, including Casal do Rei one of the best-known areas of Prunus lusitanica; and Açor, with the largest area of Prunus lusitanica in the Iberian Peninsula.


The main objective of the LIFE RELICT project is to substantially improve the conservation status of Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis, listed as a priority habitat for conservation in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, in three Portuguese Natura 2000 network sites. The project will target, in particular, two rare and unique habitat sub-types that include relic Portuguese laurel shrubland species: Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica) and pontic rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum ssp. baeticum).

Specific project objectives are:

  • To improve Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis habitat quality and its ecological function in more than 50% of the areas currently occupied by the habitat in the Portuguese Natura 2000 network;
  • To increase the area of the habitat through reconstruction of favorable adjacent areas;
  • To decrease or eliminate the major threats to the habitat according to the Portuguese sectorial plan, by implementing management measures against fire and invasive alien species, thus contributing indirectly to increased habitat resilience to climate change;
  • To evaluate the impact of a series of management practices on the conservation status of the habitat, as well as to demonstrate new methodologies and approaches to management;
  • To enhance motivation, skills and cooperation of local people and regional authorities in the preservation of Portuguese laurel relics;
  • To ensure dissemination and transfer of project results, increasing the chances of replication at other sites; and
  • To enhance local nature-based tourism, especially through the implementation of hiking trails and communication measures.
  • Expected results:

  • Improved quality of areas currently occupied by the habitat, Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis, over at least 11 ha (8 ha of Prunus lusitanica and 3 ha of Rhododendron ponticum communities, i.e. at least 50% of the area for the former and 70% for the latter), to reverse the deterioration process of the habitat in Portugal and, in the medium term, change it from an inadequate to a good conservation status within the objectives of the Habitats Directive;
  • Increased habitat area by 20.5 ha (10.5 ha of Prunus lusitanica and 10 ha of Rhododendron ponticum);
  • Reduced area occupied by invasive alien species, by at least 4 ha, meeting the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020;
  • Decreased risk of fire by increasing the area of native forest habitats (Galicio-Portuguese oak woods with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica; and Quercus faginea and Quercus canariensis Iberian woods) over 11.4 ha;
  • The effectiveness of all implemented management techniques and methods tested, and replicated in at least two sites in Spain;
  • Increased awareness, motivation, skillsets and cooperation of local people and regional authorities relating to the target habitat, involving at least 20 local authorities and 50 national organisations, as well as at least 1 000 students;
  • Increased local nature-based tourism, with the establishment of one pedestrian pathway in each municipality involved;
  • Local economy boosted by incoming finance and the creation of jobs (at least five); and
  • In the medium and long term, improved ecological function of the project area as a result of reforestation, including the increase of carbon sequestration and increase of soil organic matter content.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests
Species - Plants


endangered species‚  endemic species‚  forest ecosystem

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Target Habitat types

  • 5230 - Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis
  • 9230 - Galicio-Portuguese oak woods with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica
  • 9240 - Quercus faginea and Quercus canariensis Iberian woods
  • 9260 - Castanea sativa woods

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTCON0014 Serra da Estrela
SCI PTCON0037 Monchique
SCI PTCON0051 Complexo do Açor



Coordinator Universidade de vora
Type of organisation University
Description The University of Évora promotes the increase, transfer and application of knowledge, and combines learning and research with an international perspective. Its research programmes are focused on sustainable solutions that are directly applicable to society. Among the university’s main research areas are nature conservation and biodiversity; and landscape, environment and planning.
Partners Câmara Municipal de Seia, Portugal Câmara Municipal de Monchique, Portugal Centro de Investigación Científicas y Tecnológicas de Extremadura, Spain ADRUSE - Associação de Desenvolvimento Rural da Serra da Estrela, Portugal


Project reference LIFE16 NAT/PT/000754
Duration 01-OCT-2017 to 30-SEP -2022
Total budget 1,654,899.00 €
EU contribution 1,219,078.00 €
Project location Centro(Portugal) Alentejo(Portugal)


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