Crystal clear waters, rough steep cliffs and vibrant seas teeming with marine life are a typical scene off Portugal’s mainland and offshore islands. It sounds like a vacationer’s or scuba diver’s paradise, but for some seabird species it’s also the perfect place to nest and feed.
Although they are amongst Europe’s most threatened group of birds, seabirds can still be found breeding in Portugal’s Azores, Madeira and Berlengas Archipelagos. SPEA(BirdLife in Portugal) has been doing a great job to make sure it stays this way. They have been demonstrating how site specific protection works, and that Natura 2000, Europe’s largest network of protected areas established under the Birds and Habitats Directives, can serve as a foundation for marine conservation.
The Berlengas, only 6 nautical miles from the Portuguese mainland were initially set aside to protect the Common Guillemot. But because of a history full of neglect, the very species the reserve was created for is now sadly only part of the islands past as it has not been seen nesting here in over a decade.
To stop other seabirds from sharing a similar fate, the islands are now at the heart of an EU LIFE Project run by SPEA. They are doing whatever they can to restore the Berlengas islands to their natural condition for seabirds and endemic/native plants, or at least, as close as possible to what they once were.
Read more on what SPEA is doing as part of the project here.
Nuno Barros, Marine Programme Assistant, SPEA