Ecological restoration of natural habitats

Ecological restoration of Azorean laurel forest was the main conservation action developed for the recovery of the Azores bullfinch. Restoration is conducted by chemically removing the invasive species, since no manual or mechanical methods proved effective. After removal, soil stabilization is conducted, reverting to natural engineering techniques when necessary and the area is planted with native and endemic species produced in the nurseries. In patches of pure IAS stands, logging of invasive trees with chemical treatment and chemical treatments on standing trees have been tested and are used depending on the terrain conditions. So far, over 350 hectares of native forests have been restored, including 295 hectares of Humid Laurel Forests and 31 hectares of highly degraded Mesic Laurel Forests. This amount is expected to increase by 80 more hectares by the end of the present project.

Ecological restoration of peatlands was conducted by removing grazing cattle from the area, removing IAS (namely Gunnera tinctoria) manually, closing drainage ditches and inoculating peatland mosses into the flooding pools generated. This active restoration was conducted in an area of 75 hectares. This restoration experience has allowed us to develop techniques that have been replicated in Azores.

  • European Commission funding through LIFE Programme;
  • Public ownership of the intervention area;
  • Scientific and technical support from an advisory board;
  • Development of specific techniques for IAS control and bioengineering techniques; 
  • Availability of an important number of native plants to be planted in the restored areas.
  • Ideally, IAS control interventions should be performed as soon as the first individuals are detected, otherwise those interventions will have much higher costs and be less effective.
  • Using and adapting already developed techniques for ecological restoration can save a lot of time and improve success.
  • We have been able to learn from our mistakes; continuous monitoring allows learning from practice and improving the techniques for IAS control, soil and slope stabilization with natural engineering and plant production.
  • Monitoring and regular maintenance of restored areas are indispensable in ensuring long term success.
  • Public awareness is a key factor in order to control the spread of IAS.
  • Multisectorial and multistakeholder strategies for the management of IAS problems are necessary. They should be promoted at the highest level, but implemented at a local scale in order to include the specificities of each area.
  • This restoration experience has allowed us to develop techniques that have been replicated in other areas of the archipelago by other entities.