LIFE Project Cover Photo

Carbon Footprint Reduction, a contribution to enhance biodiversity in Sintra

Reference: LIFE09 INF/PT/000048 | Acronym: BIO+SINTRA



The Cultural Landscape of Sintra, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 (the first of its kind in Europe), is part of the Natura 2000 network. Consisting of the palace and park of Pena, the gardens and palace of Monserrate, the Moorish castle, the Capuchos Convent and several other historic and nature sites, the area covers around 900 ha and is visited by 1.6 million tourists every year – more than two thirds from abroad. The site is surrounded by urban areas with a population of more than 445 000 and more than 39 000 businesses. But these local people and enterprises are unaware of the negative impact of their activities on the valuable Sintra ecosystem. Awareness therefore needs to be raised on issues such as the generation of carbon emissions, climate change, sustainability of habitats and species and loss of biodiversity.


The overall project objective was to develop replicable ways of changing people’s daily life habits in order to decrease carbon emissions in the area of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra (CLS). Specifically, the project aimed to:

  • Raise the awareness of visitors, the local population and businesses of the natural values of the CLS;
  • Improve the understanding of the biodiversity issues;
  • Demonstrate that simple individual actions and attitudes can reduce environmental impacts on the local ecosystem;
  • Motivate the target groups to behave in more environmentally concerned ways; and
  • Develop a guide of good practices for communication with different target groups, which could be reproduced in other natural parks and sites.


    The project BIO+SINTRA addressed the problem of carbon emissions and its relation to the degradation of ecosystems and consequences for biodiversity by carrying out pilot measures in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra (CLS). The project helped show that small changes in daily attitudes can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. It promoted good practices to locals, visitors and businesses.The project adopted a ‘learn-feel-do’ strategy to communicate the problem of carbon emissions to target audiences and to encourage them to take actions to minimise their emissions. The strategy followed a response hierarchy approach: 1. Raise the awareness to the natural values of the CLS; 2. Improve the understanding of the biodiversity issues; and 3. Demonstrate that individual actions can collectively make a difference.

    The project consisted of six awareness raising actions:

  • Workshops invited participants to carry out practical tasks which contribute to biodiversity protection or reduce their environmental impact. Field visits targeted the general public, schools and companies; 306 events were organised. These engaged 358 school groups, 36 companies groups and 64 general public groups, reaching 757 639 people; specific educational activities reached 5 889 students. Activities included the construction of shelters for amphibians and for the stag beetle, the installation of nesting boxes for birds and bird feeders, and the analysis of water analysis and the eradication of invasive alien species.
  • The activity ‘Farm Off Grid’, implemented in the Farmyard of Monserrate, was a successful tool for demonstrating good practices on promoting renewable energies to the local population. Three renewable energy sources (hydro, wind and solar) are integrated to function as a stand-alone system. This represents an ideal solution for remote low-energy consuming locations, where connection to the national energy network is economically unfeasible. It also reduces the environmental and economic costs associated with energy production. By implementing this system, the project demonstrated the system operating (real consumption levels, savings, eventual problems or weaknesses) on a daily basis.
  • Talking heritage tours – a model application offers multimedia information on the main points of interest along the different routes proposed, creating the illusion that the nature is talking to users. The nature trails and respective points of interest were accessed around 25 000 times.
  • Encouraging attitudes to reduce carbon footprints – mainly targeted at visitors, two carbon footprint calculators were produced including daily calculator and specific calculator to estimate the carbon footprint of the visit to CLS. These calculators were used 5 000 times. Ten electronic kiosks were located in strategic areas that are managed by the beneficiary, and three hiking trails totalling 5 630 m in length encouraged the use of the most sustainable routes to the monuments.
  • Production of documentaries – two documentaries and 20 small videos were produced on the natural values of Sintra, reaching more than 600 000 viewers.
  • Photography contests and exhibitions – under the title ‘Capture Sintra, the Biodiversity of Seasons’, nine photography contests were held attracting 296 entrants and yielding ten exhibitions, including one in a subway station located in downtown Lisbon that drew around 62 000 visitors.
  • Production of communication materials – five leaflets and a brochure on carbon footprint raised awareness of the site’s natural values, the talking heritage tours, the farm off grid system, the hiking trails and the project itself.
  • These campaigns led to a reduction of 20 000 tonnes of carbon resulting from changes in the daily lives of people. They also raised levels of awareness and understanding of biodiversity by 6%.

    The project has a high demonstration, replicability and transferability value. The awareness campaigns and educational activities can inspire and guide other Cultural Landscapes, Natural Parks and areas with similar problems. Specific good practices were summarised in the Good Practices Guide produced as a separate chapter of the Layman’s Report. This guide is expected to be useful for other parks and natural sites interested in developing similar awareness raising campaigns.

    By promoting the adoption of new daily attitudes, the project contributed to several European objectives and legislative instruments related to environmental issues such as climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, resources conservation and efficiency, sustainable consumption and recycling.

    One lesson learnt is that the learn-feel-do methodology used to implement the project actions seems to be the most effective for this kind of project: the most successful awareness raising campaigns (workshops and volunteer actions), were those where people had more direct contact with the natural values.The project received an ‘Honourable Mention’ at the Portuguese Green Project Awards in 2014, in the category ‘Agriculture, Sea and Tourism’, mainly thanks to ‘Farm Off Grid’ initiative.

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


    Reference: LIFE09 INF/PT/000048
    Acronym: BIO+SINTRA
    Start Date: 01/09/2010
    End Date: 31/08/2014
    Total Budget: 995,514 €
    EU Contribution: 440,257 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua, S.A.
    Legal Status: PCO
    Address: Parque de Monserrate-, 2710-405, Sintra, Portugal
    Contact Person: Ines MOREIRA
    Email: ;
    Tel: +351 21 9237316

    LIFE Project Map



    • Awareness raising - Information
    • Sensitive and protected areas management


    • protected area
    • biodiversity
    • cultural heritage
    • environmental awareness
    • public awareness campaign
    • natural heritage
    • environmental training


    Name Type
    Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua, S.A. Coordinator
    None Participant