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Integrated strategy for sustainable management of insular habitats in Natura 2000 islands of the Atlantic Ocean

Reference: LIFE20 NAT/ES/001007 | Acronym: LIFE INSULAR



Atlantic islands are considered as one of the most biodiverse areas in the EU. The ecosystems in these islands share common environmental problems, particularly considering the dunes are among the most endangered habitats. According to the Habitat Directive´s Article 17 sexennial report 2013-2018, some of the main threats identified for habitat types 2130* (Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation “grey dunes”) and 4030 (European dry heaths) in the project area relate to the existence of senescent forest plantations and tree encroachment, the spreading of invasive alien species, the impact of recreational/tourism activities, and climate change.


The main objective of the LIFE INSULAR project is to implement a transnational strategy for an integrated restoration of the priority habitat type 2130* (“grey dunes”) and the habitat 4030 (European dry heath) in five Atlantic Ocean islands spread across the Atlantic and Macaronesian biogeographical regions, promoting their favourable conservation status and increasing their resilience to climate change.

To achieve this, the project aims to:

  • Increase the area covered by the habitat types 2130* and 4030 by eliminating old forest plantations and subsequently restoring the areas with plant species characteristic of these habitat types;
  • Improve the conservation status (structure and functions) of habitat types 2130* and 4030 through the elimination of old forest plantations, encroaching trees and the control of invasive alien species;
  • Improve the future prospects of habitat types 2130* and 4030 by means of the improvement of the knowledge base and the implementation of protection measures against anthropogenic pressures;
  • Raise awareness about the relevance, natural values and ecosystem services provided by these habitat types;
  • Transfer the project experience at EU level.

The project contributes to the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive and the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.


Expected results:

  • Technical document of characterisation and diagnosis of island habitats, identification of monitoring indicators;
  • Eight technical plans for each of the targeted SACs and a contingency plan;
  • Collection of plant reproductive material and cultivation of characteristic species for the habitat type 2130* (“grey dunes”) restoration (8 000 plants) in Cíes islands (off Galicia, Spain) and Éire islands (Ireland), and for 4030 (European dry heath) restoration (150 000 plants) in Cíes islands;
  • Increasing 32 ha of the habitat type 2130* and 22 ha of the habitat type 4030 by removing old forest plantations in Cíes and Éire islands;
  • Improvement of the conservation status of the habitat types 2130* and 4030 on 121 ha and 95 ha, respectively, by removing encroached trees, thinning perimetral plantations, removing invasive alien species (IAS), and establishing protection measures against human activities;
  • Installation of four devices (footbaths, carpets) in Spanish islands for IAS elimination from the footwear of island visitors, avoiding the dispersal of the IAS propagules/seeds in the 2130* habitat;
  • Annual reports, report analysing the impact of concrete conservation actions on insular habitats, report on socio-economic impacts, and reports compiling the project performance indicators and on the project’s demonstration/pilot strategy;
  • Communication strategy, including website, brochures, merchandising, mass media news, 16 informative panels, audio-visual package for tour operators, and university extension course (20 students);
  • Transfer/replication strategy, including 16 stakeholder events, 8 capacity building and technical training events, a manual for replication and transfer of best practice on insular habitats, and end of project seminar;
  • RED INSULAR network, involving digital meeting forum and repository, for the transfer of LIFE INSULAR results for their replicability in other projects, 3 INSULAR international Workshops in Spain, France and Portugal, and involvement of 5 EU Member States.


Reference: LIFE20 NAT/ES/001007
Start Date: 01/09/2021
End Date: 31/12/2026
Total Eligible Budget: 5,274,922 €
EU Contribution: 3,956,056 €


Coordinating Beneficiary: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Praza do Obradoiro s/n, 15782, Santiago de Compostela,
Contact Person: Pablo Ramil Rego
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Coastal
  • Heath and Scrublands
  • Sensitive and protected areas management
  • Plants
  • Invasive species


  • dune
  • heathland
  • restoration
  • invasive species
  • protected area management


  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • Regulation 1143/2014 - Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (22.10.2014)


  • 2130 - Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation ("grey dunes")
  • 4030 - European dry heaths


Type Code Name
SCI ES1140004 Complexo Ons - O Grove
SCI ES7010045 Archipiélago Chinijo
SCI IE0000133 Donegal Bay (Murvagh) SAC
SCI IE0000710 Raven Point Nature Reserve SAC
SPA ES0000001 Illas Cíes
SCI IE0000147 Horn Head and Rinclevan SAC
SCI ES1110006 Complexo húmido de Corrubedo
SCI IE0001190 Sheephaven SAC


Name Type
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela Coordinator
NPWS(Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage), Ireland Participant
COILLTE(Coillte CGA), Ireland Participant
TRAGSA(Empresa de Transformación Agraria S.A., S.M.E., M.P), Spain Participant
DXPN(Dirección Xeral de Patrimonio Natural; Consellería de Medio Ambiente, Territorio e Vivenda; Xunta de Galicia), Spain Participant
OAPN(Organismo Autónomo Parques Nacionales), Spain Participant