Ongoing projects

Project LIFE Charcos

Conservation of Temporary Ponds in the Southwest Coast of Portugal

Project background

Mediterranean temporary ponds (CTMs) are seasonal wetland habitats, subjected to extreme and unstable ecological conditions. Due to their uniqueness and scientific value, they are listed as a priority habitat for conservation in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive. The coastal plain of southwest Portugal is a Natura 2000 (N2000) site (Costa Sudoeste) and hosts a large number of such temporary ponds, as a consequence of climatic and edaphic (soil-related) characteristics.
However, over the last two-decades, modern industrialised agriculture and tourism have caused a steep decline in the condition of this habitat in the N2000 site. Traditionally seen as non-productive areas, CTMs are nowadays subjected to strong anthropogenic pressures, such as deep soil turning, accelerated drainage, flattening of the surface topography or transformation into permanent reservoirs for irrigation. Therefore, urgent action is needed in order to halt this downward trend and assure their long-term protection.

Project objectives

The project’s overall aim is to enhance the conservation status in south-west Portugal of CTMs. Specific aims are to:
• Compile, in a coherent and homogeneous database, the available biological information and updated cartography;
• Promote the reduction and elimination of known threats, halting the destruction of this habitat type;
• Demonstrate management and restoration techniques that will improve and enhance the conservation status of the temporary ponds;
• Create and establish a seed bank, primarily as a tool for conservation and restoration actions, and also for safeguarding biodiversity;
• Promote locally the dissemination of knowledge about the ecology and function of temporary ponds, through demonstrations of sustainable management practices; and
• Contribute to the long-term protection of temporary ponds, engaging landowners, farmers and decision makers.

Expected results

The project’s main expected result is to halt the loss of temporary ponds in the Costa do Sudoeste N2000 site, reversing the declining trend observed in the past few years. Conservation and demonstration actions are planned for at least 16 temporary ponds, and in some of the ponds more than one type of conservation action will be applied simultaneously. The following outputs are expected:
• Updated cartography of temporary ponds in the Costa do Sudoeste site and a database assembling all available biological information;
• Improved knowledge of the hydrological functioning of the ponds;
• A CTM conservation status assessment index;
• Management guidelines for the conservation of each temporary pond or complex;
• Preservation in the long-term of at least 80% of the plant species in the ponds;
• Demonstration of the sustainability of extensive grazing at a minimum of three ponds; and
• Promotion of pond connectivity to decrease habitat fragmentation at a minimum of two pond complexes.

Name of beneficiary

Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN)

Postal address
Estrada do Calhariz de Benfica, 187
P - 1500-124 Lisboã

Phone: +351 286328309
Fax: +351 286328316
Name of contact person: Rita ALCAZAR
Duration of project: 54 months (01/07/2013 - 31/12/2017)
Total budget in euro: 1,977,465.00
EC contribution in euro with %: 1,483,098.00 (75.00%)
Theme: Habitats: Freshwater