Escalão A2 | Article in english
Discussing the Natural Reserve of Santo André and Sancha Lagoons
Escola Secundária/3ºCEB Poeta Al Berto, Sines,
Escola Secundária/3ºCEB Poeta Al Berto, Sines,04/05/2009
On the 21st November 2008, the "Live to Protect" group from 12º A and their Project teacher, Ana Diniz, attended a meeting about the Natural Reserve of Sto. André and Sancha Lagoon and the Coastwatch Project.
Lagoa de Sto. André
On the 21st November 2008, the "Live to Protect" group from 12º A and their Project teacher, Ana Diniz, attended a meeting about the Natural Reserve of Sto. André and Sancha Lagoon and the Coastwatch Project. The session took place at Poeta Al Berto Secondary School, in Sines, and aimed at gathering information about the reserve, as well as at preparing the students' participation in the forthcoming activity of weeping-willow removal and estorno cultivation.
First, Ana Vidal, the architect, and Carla Correia, who is responsible for the Environmental Education Department at the Natural Reserve of Sto. André and Sancha Lagoons, informed us about the themes that would be discussed. The location of the Reserve was briefly highlighted on the map; Sines is a privileged city, because of its protected area in the north, the Natural Reserve of Sto. André and Sancha Lagoons, and in the south, the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park.
After that, Ana Vidal explained us the symbol of the reserve - a little caniços nightingale, which is a bird that lives in the middle of reeds, which serve as a shelter for many of them. There are at least 246 species of birds in the reserve and this small nightingale is one of the richest species in the reserve, therefore it was chosen to be their logo.
We were told that the Natural Reserve stretches along 15 coast miles and along 1,5 mile of coast line. This area already existed before the development of the Sines Industrial Complex and included the coastal protection of Sines and Sto. André, which was regarded as a remarkable advance for the time being, in 1972. It was considered an ornithological area of major importance due to the great quantity of birds and variety of other animals.
At this moment, the Natural Reserve of Sto. André and Sancha Lagoons is ranked first place in the National Atlas of Birds, for being the area with the highest number of species per square metre inside the reserve.
All the coast from Tróia to Sines belongs to an area classified as one of great natural value and of great importance for birds, by Rede Natura 2000. It is also a moist zone of international importance, with protection areas for the Avifauna. Furthermore, it was classified as Natural Reserve in August 2000, and the Territorial Classification Plan was approved in 2007.
We were also told about the importance of the sand dunes - on Caparica Coast, for instance, they are being destroyed, because of the innumerous constructions that have made the soil impermeable and do not let the sand move with the wind. As a result, the sand dunes are being destroyed and the sea is sweeping over the land. Construction should not be allowed on the sand dunes for those reasons, because they have to advance or move back freely according to the natural processes.
The reserve sand dunes comprise well developed frontal dunes, which reach 47m of height. The frontal sand dune is a distinct, well-defined morphological unit, associated with a beach with the form of a sandy string parallel to the coast line, with a transversal symmetrical profile. There is a lower area among the sand dunes where wells are formed. These wells are small lagoons that are important to the birds and to study the morphology of the area; their water is not salty and has no connection to the sea. Several studies have been carried out in these wells with a geo-radar and several x-rays have been taken in order to study the zone in terms of its geophysics.
Carla Correia explained us how the dunes are formed and the principal elements in their formation: wind, sand and vegetation. The dunes are an aggressive environment to the plants, they have to endure the strong wind, the lack of water, and the salinity of the soil, therefore, they have a hostile environment to survive in; however, they can adapt themselves to such environment, as they have dense and long roots and sometimes they have thorns instead of leafs to resist the environment.
There are two slopes on the sand dunes: the one descending towards the sea, where we can find species like the estorno and cordeirinho do mar, which are plants, as mentioned above, with features that allow them to survive in hostile environments such as the sand dunes; and the slope descending towards land, where the plants are more protected from this hostile environment. We also received further information about two types of plants, the estorno and the weeping-willow.
The estorno is a pioneer plant that can grow both horizontally and vertically, while the weeping-willow is an exotic plant that comes from South Africa, a crawling plant with great capacity of development and regeneration, which takes many nutrients from the land, leaving the endemic plants in even more hostile conditions. They will soon try to remove this invader plant. There are two ways of removing the weeping-willow: through a mechanical procedure, taking it manually and drying it, after the removal, with a black bag, so as to make its destruction more effective, or through chemical methods, which can be harmful to other plants if not done by experienced professionals.
Afterwards, several problems occurring on the sand dunes system were analyzed: lack of a Classification Plan, traffic circulation on the sand dunes and on the beaches and lack of signals/warnings and adequate information. In order to draw people's attention to these problems and sensitize them, some environmental actions have been taken, as for example the caniços wells route. Other activities are usually organized throughout the year, for instance, «Summer Biology» and orientation routes.
At last, we were presented the CoastWatch citizenship project.
Escola Secundária/3ºCEB Poeta Al Berto, Sines, Portugal.