In 2011 the Berlengas Natura 2000 site (SPA) was enlarged to include a significant proportion of its marine area. Linked to this site extension, the Portuguese nature conseravtion agency (ICNF) launched an initiative to develop a management plan for the new area. Unfortunately, the baseline information proved to be insufficient and clear planned actions were lacking. As a result, a legally binding plan never materialised.
The project aims to establish a legally binding management plan with clear and measurable actions and targets for defined sites in the Atlantic coastal archipelago. The Portuguese government has joined forces with SPEA for this objective. Project goals will be achieved though the use of tailored versions of proven archipelago management methodologies. Outcomes will be ready to apply at local, regional, national and international levels.
Three key project phases are planned: first, understanding the main threats affecting seabird populations and endemic plant species on land and at sea (for seabirds) and defining actions to minimise/eradicate them, including a long-term monitoring scheme; second, promoting sustainable use of the recently created Berlengas Natura 2000 site (SPA), focusing on its three main economic activities (fisheries, recreational activities and tourism); and third, confirming the necessary monitoring framework for the completion and approval of the management plan.
Expected results: Three endemic plant species mapped and monitored, including the impacts of introduced plant species; Assessment of Carpobrotus edulis (main invasive plant species), including its expansion range and the test of eradication methods at specific areas; At least two years of monitoring of breeding seabird species (Cory's shearwater, Madeiran storm petrel, cormorant, common guillemot, yellow-legged gull, lesser black-backed gull), as well as the assessment of threats at land and sea, quantification of resources and monitoring costs; Cory's shearwater, storm-petrel and common guillemot seabird populations fully assessed both at land and sea (distribution, fisheries interactions and predation); Number of artificial nests for Cory's shearwater, storm-petrel constructed increased by at least 3%. Individual tracking of species and metal ringing (At least 25 Cory's shearwater and 20 storm-petrels tracked each year, and alien mammal predators controlled and eradicated); Video monitoring of remaining nests for guillemot and live streaming of Cory's shearwater on the project website; Assessment of population status of the yellow-legged gull and trends, impacts on other seabird and plant species and testing of new population control methods; Identification of human pressures and its relation to alien plants/mammals; At least 15% of the fishing fleet operating within the SPA monitored to assess by-catch levels; At least 25% to 50% of this fleet implementing mitigation methods by the end of the project; Creation of a dedicated visitor centre in Berlengas island, as well as the mprovement of visitor trails and definition of guidelines for both residents and tourists; Best-practice guidelines for fishing crews, tourists, residents and birdwatchers; Management plan approved, including cost assessments; and Local schools and local businesses implementing the management plan, together with public authorities and NGOs.