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Drone Detects Threatened Endemic Plant

The Madeira Botany Group (Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Madeira), in collaboration with the National Tropical Botanical Garden Hawaii (USA), in a project funded by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, carried out activities this week to locate rare species of flora of the Madeira archipelago. These activities are developed, with the support of the Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation, IP-RAM, on the island of Madeira and Porto Santo.

This project uses Unmanned Aircraft (UAS/Drones), and the georeferencing of plants located in rocky ravines, impossible to access by other means, such as the cliffs of Cabo Girão, included in the Natura 2000 Network site, PTMAD0011.

The team consisting of Miguel Menezes de Sequeira, Célia Bairos, and Ben Nyberg, pilot and specialist in the use of this technology and with extensive experience in the location of plants in the islands of Hawaii, located yesterday, a new population of Cheirolophus massonianus, an endemic, and incredibly rare and endangered plant of the Madeira archipelago. It is sometimes known as the ‘ Cheirolophus massonianus – Madeira Shrub Cornflower’ and usually flowers between May and June.

This discovery not only located a new, and hitherto unknown population of the species, it has also doubled the number of known plants here in Madeira.

Later this week, the same team will carry out detailed surveys on the island of Porto Santo, once again with the support of the IFCN. Participants will include students studying for their Master in Applied Biology at the University of Madeira.

This project is part of the objectives of GBM (FCV, University of Madeira), and the results obtained will be shared with IFCN to enhance the knowledge and conservation activities of this and other species of flora of the archipelago of Madeira.

Samantha Gannon

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