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‘Wild Expedition 50’ – The Selvagens Islands

The public presentation of the Selvagens 50 Expedition will take place on Friday, the 21st of April in the Noble Hall of the Regional Government of Madeira, Funchal.

This afternoon session is part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Selvagens Islands Natural Reserve, and the expansion of the marine protected area of that subarchipelago, organised by the Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation (IFCN). The meeting aims to evaluate the situation of the islands starting with the knowledge obtained over the last fifty years.

By bringing together this knowledge, we can, according to Paulo Oliveira of the IFCN, “envision what the future of the Reserve will be, and obtain better instruments for its management through long-term monitoring plans.”

The Wild Expedition 50 will comprise about 40 researchers, managers, and technicians from various entities. The IFCN’s goal is that the ‘expedition’ will continue during 2023.  However, it is expected that this first phase, between the 23rd of April and the 1st of May, will attract the greatest number of researchers.

Nine themes will be developed on land and another twelve at sea. Among the specific actions are the analysis of the reaction of ecosystems after the eradication of rabbits and mice 20 years ago, the use of molecular technology in insects, reptiles, and marine biodiversity, and the monitoring of marine litter and the presence of plastic in seabirds. Finally, the island’s potential as a fur seal safe haven will be assessed.

The Selvagens subarchipelago is the oldest Natural Reserve in Portugal and represents the largest fully protected marine area of the North Atlantic, totalling 2,677 km2.

Samantha Gannon

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