Portugal names its 13th Azores Ramsar Site
The government of Portugal, with assistance from the city of Praia da Vitória on Terceira island, has named as the country’s 31st Wetland of International Importance the Paúl da Praia da Vitória (Praia da Vitória Marsh) (16 hectares, 38°44’N 027°04’W), its 13th Ramsar Site located in the Azores Archipelago. As described by Ramsar’s Laura Máiz-Tomé based on the RIS data, the small marsh is found in the urban centre of Praia da Vitória, the strategic location of which allows the observation of a considerable number of migratory birds from both European and American continents. The wide diversity of bird species, especially considering its geographical origin and the importance of the site as a refuge for the mid-Atlantic migratory routes, provides the site with a special conservation value.
Locally, the importance of the site can be measured by the presence of a considerable number of endemic species (e.g., Columba palumbus azorica, Fringilla coelebs moreletti, and Motacilla cinerea patriciae). Within it, some fish and mammals can also be found, notably the Anguilla anguilla and a bat Nyctalus azoreum, both considered as Endangered under the IUCN Red List.
The marsh plays an important role in the local hydrological cycle, regulating floods of the surrounding hydrologic basin. Considered to be an excellent strategic point for bird watching, recreation and educational and environmental awareness purposes, the marsh has an added value for tourism and local development. Eutrophication, largely due to agricultural run-off, is seen as the principal threat, and there is a response plan in place that involves annual removal of algae.