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Get to Know Our Biosphere’s

UNESCO project “Biosphere Reserves: Sustainable Territories, Resilient Communities,” promoted by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action and coordinated by Quartenaire Portugal, is an initiative that aims to reinforce the knowledge, visibility and valuation of the twelve UNESCO biosphere reserves, which include both the Santana and Porto Santo reserves.

According to biologist António Abreu, the achievement of the three major objectives (knowledge, visibility and valuation), will take place in conjunction with the local community. Furthermore, the “Biosphere Reserves” will be used to promote communication, and the dissemination of information regarding the diverse richness of the Portuguese biospheres as well as creating a greater awareness of each ecosystem.  These natural systems are vital as they can support socio-economic activity, and that is exactly how we are going to invent, value and quantify their economic value.

In addition, the project will allow for biosphere management training, as this has to be undertaken in accordance with UNESCO rules but in ways to help local entrepreneurs to seize opportunities.

The programme will carry out eighty-one activities,  including the collection of testimonies and local memories, such as photographs or postcards, all of which tell their own unique story of each biosphere reservation.  Both a book and a digital portal will be created to document all the recorded histories.

This project is already up and running in Castro Verde, in Beja and will be joined by Paul do Boquilobo (Golegã), Corvo, Graciosa, Flores and Fajãs de São Jorge (Azores), Berlengas (Peniche) and Santana and Porto Santo (Madeira), and the cross-border reserves of Gerês – Xurés, Meseta Ibérica and Tejo/Tajo Internacional (Portugal/Spain).

All of these are part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, created within the scope of the “Man and the Biosphere” programme and which aims to classify territorial areas for the protection of natural resources .

This 30-month project, is financed by EEA Grants, and represents an investment of around two million euros.

Samantha Gannon

info at madeira-weekly.com

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