Contribuição financeira do programa LIFE da União Europeia

Project objectives

The expressed will of the Municipality of Barreiro to create a local protected area that ensures the preservation of the woods of Machada and of the marshes of Coina, reckons a particular relevance to the control of invasive species, greatly expanded in these territories.

In this project the focus is mainly in the woods of Machada, although occasionally also present in the surrounding marshland. There is a strong invasion of various species of acacia in the Machada woods. In the surrounding marsh there is an invasion, less aggressive, of ice plants (Carpobrotus edulis (L.)). We seek an alternative to the traditional models of invasive species control, not neglecting the experience combined in many other projects (for example, LIFE07 NAT/P/000630, LIFE95 ENV/P/0119, LIFE10/NAT/PT/075).

This project combines a public component and a strong support in volunteering programs.

When working with groups of volunteers, although with professional support, it will be given preference to softer techniques of intervention, probably more extended in time.
The project aims to be demonstrative of the management model based on public participation. It is possible to achieve a better cost benefit ratio, both in the resources’ allocation, and environmentally, but also in the social involvement in one of the most complex environmental problems.

Choosing this model implies a significant allocation of resources to the management of volunteers groups and to mobilize the community.

The control of the invasive species aims to create better conditions for biodiversity values that already exists, namely the threatened Euphorbia uliginosa. This specie is a very rare endemic specie, with no formal conservation statues but believed as critically endangered, as in Spain, and not protected by European directives. It is not listed in the European or IUCN red list because the information on the specie is scarce.

In the area of the project Euphorbia uliginosa was found only in one place, in environmental conditions that can be improved. There are other locations in the area that seem to have a favourable habitat, but the specie is not there. Anyhow, the specie is relates with humid habitats that are very important and will also be improved by the project.

A strong dissemination program is also part of the demonstration character of the project.

Actions and means involved

Preparatory measures
1. Strategic plan of intervention, based on the revised information about relevant flora species location, control of invasive species needed and restoration of ecosystems envisaged.

Actions to be preformed
2. A team of multifunctional forest management will manage the conservation activities.
3. Cutting interventions, removal, occasional planting, etc. based on voluntary targeted audiences (schools, pensioners, associations, corporate, general public, etc.), and that implies “adopting” control areas and eventual eradication of invasive species by organized groups. These interventions are technically framed by the forest management team. The boost of actions as well as the mobilization of volunteers is based on 

extensive awareness actions, and addressed to targeted public, and in a close monitoring of the organizations involved in the operations to be implemented.
4. Recovery of autochthones vegetation in the woods of Machada, and actions to create some more areas of marshlands. The re-creation of water dependent habitats will expand the opportunities for the most valuable plant species that occur in the Machada woods. At the same time, changing from the dominance of invasive species in some areas to autochthones woods would contribute for a better management of the water cycle, improving the catch of water while raining but decreasing evapotraspiration in the lowlands.
5. Monitoring and evaluation.
6. Creation of some support activities to visitors with the aim of creating social support that sustains the land management, with conservation goals.
7. Communication, which includes the demonstration activities of the results of the project, designed to connect different stakeholders and organizations with similar problems so solve. The use of public participation components is expected to play an important role in raising public awareness to the problems of managing the natural heritage.
8. Management and evaluation of the project.

Expected results

The main expected result of the project is an immaterial result: to trigger a social dynamics to mobilizing volunteers, which in the future sustains itself, with consistent, but limited, support of the management of the protected area.

It is also expected that the existing areas of marshland with very high biodiversity value is intervened to decrease competition for water as all alien species were banned.
It is expected that the immaterial result has a concrete outcome: the “adoption” area of patches of invasive species, that comes to 20 ha, slightly less than 10% of the total area of the woods of Machada and that represent more than  50% of the area with serious invasion of acacia (to confirm in the Preparatory Action A.1).

Considering the “violence” of propagation of this invasive species, it is not expected to achieve 100% efficacy in its eradication during the project. However, knowing the field and methodologies to be used, it is expected to achieve 70-75% efficacy for Acacia sp. (21, 3-22, 8 ha in the area), and 90-95% for Carpobrotus (area of 17, 5-18, 7 ha).

The most mature areas of autochthones vegetation should be adopted by groups of volunteers to manage these areas for the purpose of having mature cork woods in the future. It is expected that about 20% of the woods of Machada (75 of its 376 hectares) will evolve to cork woods, benefiting from fuel reduction actions. Around 10% of the water lines will have plantations by cuttings.

The duration of a Life project is not enough for a lasting result in controlling an area affected by invasive species like Acacia sp.. The aim is also to have conclusions about the effects of different interventions of the volunteers: the levels and types of action for each type of group, continued capacity to act. It is expected that, by the end of the project, the interventions of public participation conducted, will serve as communication tools for the social values assignment to the area and for the maintenance of the public effort to control the invasive species.

All the humid habitats with Ulex minor, Molinia caerulea and Erica ciliaris; or Cheirolophus uliginosus; Pinguicula lusitanica, Erica Erigena, Fuirenapubescens and Juncos rugosus, should be adopted, improved and protected. It is expected that the nearly 5 hectares of the habitats (distributed in scattered spots of half ha each) will have their storage conditions significantly improved. It is expected to achieve an area of 1,1 hectares of restored habitats.