Ana B. Costa, Ana C. Martins & Mariana Rebelo, Portugal, 15-18 years old
Vila Nova de Famalicão has already established the first steps towards the creation of the future Local Protected Landscape (PPL) of Pateiras do Ave. The PPL of Pateiras do Ave is located in an area whose scenery and elements show the great aesthetic, ecological and cultural value of the region. Its classification aims to protect the existing natural and cultural values, highlighting the local identity and the adoption of measures compatible with its classification.
The project is promoted by the inter-county commission of Fradelos, Riberão and Vilarinho das Cambas and aims to mobilize the local communities in the recovery and appreciation of the territory. The project is presented to the community by ecologist Vasco Flores Cruz, who sets as the primary goal for the project “getting to know the local environmental and cultural heritage of the site so that measures to help in its appreciation can be developed”. When questioned regarding what changes to the site can be expected upon the PPL typology attribution, the ecologist explains that “those will be defined within a statute currently in development that will be based upon feedback from both the local communities and the municipality”. The statute is set to be concluded during the first semester of 2020 and it is expected that the classification of the site as a PPL can officially be set during the second semester of the year.
The geographical definition of the future PPL was chosen according to a set of characteristics that distinguish it from other local areas of relevance within the municipal territory, both at a natural and a cultural level. According to Vasco Flores Cruz, “it is a site that is defined by a wet area that houses a large diversity of amphibians and where close to 180 species of vertebrates are identified, many of which currently threatened, like the Iberian painted frog (Discoglossus galganoi) or the Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus)”. He also adds “This region falls on the crossing between two important ecological corridors: the Ave river and a set of small geological elevations parallel to the shore that extend from Esposende to the Douro river, with those being decisive factors for the existence of a great biodiversity of birds on site”.
Pedro Sena, city councilor for the environment, assures the implementation of the project, despite not having a deadline for the conclusion given that it can potentially be a multi-generational project. Mr. Sena also highlights how important the participation of the local community is to the success of the initiative that, in his words, is “not only extraordinary locally, but also an example for the region and the country”.
The creation of Protected Areas (AP – “Áreas Protegidas” in Portuguese) is currently regulated in law by Decree nº 242/2015 from 15th of October. The current existing typologies are National Park, Natural Park, Natural Reserve, Protected Landscape and Natural Monument. Apart from National Park, all APs of regional or local scope can adopt any of the aforementioned typologies and should include the “Regional” designation when more than one county is involved or the “Local” designation when only one is involved The Local Protected Landscapes (PPL – “Paisagem Protegida Local” in Portuguese) are instruments of territorial planning that allow councils to manage land fractions within their territories with the goal of promoting the conservation of relevant natural and cultural sites. In Portugal there are the PPL of the Weir da Agolada, the PPL of the Weir of Monte da Barca, the PPL of Rocha da Pena, the PPL of Fonte Benémola and the PPL of the Socorro and Archeira Mountain Range, identified by the ICNF official map with the numbers 42, 43, 44, 45 and 47, respectively. These areas should be regarded as biodiversity reserves, as local heritage of the region they belong to and as a valued highlighting tool of their territory and resources, while not affecting the preexisting human activities.
With the creation of the PPL of Pateiras do Ave, the municipality of Vila Nova de Famalicão aims to promote the balanced economic, social and cultural development of the region, based on the protection and conservation of its ecological, biophysical, aesthetic and landscaping characteristics. Beyond increasing the value of the territory and the region, this project encourages the development of new scientific and cultural practices that promote environmental, natural and cultural values. Aiming to achieve a harmonious and sustainable human development, the opinion and participation of the local communities is greatly valued.