Monitoring of Azores bullfinch population and restoration success

Every four years the "Atlas of Priolo" is conducted, with 50 volunteers counting all the priolos in the world in one or two days. This Atlas allows a more robust estimation of the priolo population size.

Annually a census of priolo is conducted by a project technician in May and June, and in September a juvenile census is conducted in order to assess the reproductive success of the species. Every four years a winter census is also conducted. This monitoring allows assessment of the population trends of the bird and quick action if any problem is identified.

Native vegetation evolution is assessed in all the intervention areas annually, comparing the composition of random 10 x10 metre squares of vegetation between restored areas and control areas. New plantations are also monitored to assess their success and identify problems. When an intervention area presents other sensitive issues, such as proximity of water lines, new monitoring schemes, for example water analysis, are put in place in order to ensure success and safety of all the interventions.

Finally, socioeconomic impacts of the project in terms of investment and ecosystem services provision are also monitored.

  • European Commission funding through LIFE Programme;
  • Scientific support by an advisory board.
  • Good planning and regular implementation of monitoring actions is essential in order to obtain good and robust results;
  • Scientific support of monitoring actions is very important, however, and since actual conservation actions are a priority, this monitoring needs to be adapted to reduced availability of economic resources and time to conduct these actions. Sometimes, it is necessary to find simpler ways of obtaining the answers we need in order to continue working despite not being totally scientifically rigorous. This is the case of ecosystem services provision assessment, which is conducted in qualitative terms, with some quantitative and monetary valuation, when the required information is available.
  • Monitoring actions allow identification of best practices, redefining new interventions and improving efficiency, but they are also a good communication tool, allowing us to show the importance and success of the project and to present this to the general public. The Atlas do Priolo has become a great communication and engagement event.