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:
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:
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).