September 01, 2014

Cape Mondego

I've been wanting to explore the Cape Mondego Natural Monument for some time. Yesterday was finally the day.
This coastal protected area in the county of Figueira da Foz was created more to protect geological features than fauna or flora, but these Jurassic rock cliffs, with alternating greyish marl and limestone layers filled with fossils (like ammonoids or belemnoids, or even dinossaur footprints), still provide a substrate to an interesting assemblage of animals and plants.
Although quite a few introduced plants, like Carpobrotus edulis, Agave americana, Jacobaea maritima (syn. Senecio cineraria) or Cortaderia selloana, can be found in the area, most of the local flora is native, with Rock samphire, Crithmum maritimum, being particularly abundant. Other interesting plants can also be found, including Armeria welwitschii, a Portuguese endemic sea thrift.
The terrestrial fauna is not very exuberant. I only found two species of snails, and a few common birds, the most interesting of which was to me Arenaria interpres, a typical bird in coastal cliffs, though not unusual elsewhere. Although I wasn't exactly on the lookout for them, I found three species of insects, but I didn't get a clear view of one of them (a dragonfly).
I believe the marine life in the submerged part of these cliffs should be interesting, but the tide didn't allow me to explore it properly, so I only found a few common species. I really have to go back during the low tide.

Posted on September 01, 2014 12:59 by duarte duarte | 37 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

December 10, 2013

Finished

At last, I am proud to announce that I have introduced all of the Portuguese protected areas into iNaturalist. I have also created checklists for some of them, but even those are not complete.
Now, there are a few things that the would-be foreign visitor or resident naturalist needs to understand regarding protected areas in Portugal.
First, most of them are relatively small (we are a small country), especially when compared to monsters like the Yellowstone.
Secondly, there is the question of human influence. Unlike your almost pristine American national parks, Portuguese landscapes have been shaped by human hand for millenia. Therefore, protected areas in Portugal normally encompass man-made features.
Finally, both for practical reasons and for exploration on iNaturalist, one needs to understand the different categories under which these areas fall. These are:
1.Parque Nacional (National Park). There's only one in Portugal, the Peneda-Gerês National Park. This includes areas valued for their natural integrity, where human interference is restricted.
2.Parque Natural (Natural Park). Areas with recognized natural and seminatural value, where the ecosystem is dependent on a balance between Man and Nature. Includes 13 areas in mainland Portugal, one in Madeira and one for each island of the Azores.
3.Reserva Natural (Natural Reserve). Areas unoccupied or not significantly occupied by people, which should remain unaltered by human activity during a prolonged period of time
4.Paisagens Protegidas (Protected Landscapes). Areas whose value originated from complex interactions between people and nature, and aims to protect both natural and cultural assets.
5.Monumento Natural (Natural Monument). Unique or unusual areas, whose survival is dependent on monitoring and conservation. Includes some areas protected solely for geological features, such as fossils (interesting species can still often be found in such places).
6.Área Protegida Privada (Private Protected Areas). Private areas of recognized value for which the owner has requested this status. Although run by the ownership, they are subject to national protocols. There is only one so far, the Faia Brava Private Protected Area.
7.Áreas Protegidas Locais (Local Protected Areas). There are several types, including Reserva Natural Local (Local Natural Reserve) and Paisagem Protegida Local (Local Protected Landscape).
7.Others. There are a few areas that are not (yet) included in any of the above categories, or run by environmental associations, etc., most of them not included in the official list of protected areas.
I hope this brings you closer to these areas.

Posted on December 10, 2013 22:04 by duarte duarte | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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