Photo: Michael Bruxo/Open Media

“Rare community of endangered plants” found at Alagoas Brancas

Environmentalists and local citizens  hope that nature conservation authorities and Lagoa Council will “finally understand” the site’s “valuable natural heritage”

A “rare community of plants” comprised of several threatened species has been discovered at Alagoas Brancas.

The new findings have been reported by a young nature enthusiast, who decided to photograph the aquatic plants and upload them to the iNaturalist platform, reports Salvar as Alagoas Brancas, an association dedicated to protecting the wetland site in Lagoa from ongoing development plans.

“This citizen science platform connects citizens with experts to facilitate species identification and expand the coverage and knowledge of these species. Biologists were astonished when, based on the information available on the platform, they visited the location and encountered the largest national population of Damasonium bourgaei, a species critically endangered in Portugal and only known from two other locations (one with an isolated plant and the other with only a few dozen individuals),” the association reports.

“They also discovered other rare plants such as Cressa cretica and Elatine macropoda,” it sats, adding that specimens of Sporobulos aculeatus were also found.

The Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) has already been informed about these “rare and sensitive populations of aquatic plants,” the association says.

It adds adding that the Portuguese Society of Botany (SPB) and Phytos – Portuguese Association of Vegetation Science – have also been notified “in order to investigate and provide input on this significant citizen discovery of great floristic value for the region and the country.”

On an international level, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has also been informed.

It is urgent to have experts identify these species in the field, as two of them are missing at the national level and are globally threatened,” Salvar as Alagoas Brancas says.

“This set of natural values once again proves that Alagoas Brancas is not just another wetland; it is indeed a place with enormous natural heritage and the only known location in the country with this plant community,” the association states.

“Portugal has already been fined by the European Commission for not designating more areas of its territory and failing to meet the targets set under the Habitat Directive. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate the opposite and effectively protect rare natural values in the Algarve and Portugal.

“We hope that the entities responsible for nature conservation will intervene to protect the site and that Lagoa Council will finally recognise the valuable natural heritage it possesses within its town. With the available information, the council can modify the Municipal Master Plan (PDM) and justify changes to agreements already made with real estate developers. We still have time to save Alagoas Brancas and transform the site into a protected area for the enjoyment of both present and future generations of Lagoa residents. All it takes is the will and courage of those who currently have the power to decide,” the association concludes.

By Michael Bruxo

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