A.1 – Completing and updating of baseline characterization
Start date: 01/08/2015
Conclusion date: 31/03/2018
The information already existent for the Study Area concerning biophysical, socio-economic, species distribution and roadkill data was compiled in a Geographic Information System Database. Based on this information, the needs for complementary data (species/groups and locations without or with poor data) were identified. Additional sampling in several locations was done for the main target groups of the project including amphibians, passerines, owls and mammal carnivores. Moreover, at intervention sites (roads, road verges, culverts, microreserves, and very high voltage powerline poles) a detailed characterization of the main target groups for which the intervention was planned, was carried out taking into account a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) design.
Results include, among others, around 80 000 occurrence records integrated into GIS database and 254 different species, 6 connectivity maps generated, 12 animals (genets and owls) tracked with GPS/GSM system and 307 wildlife crossings and culverts mapped.
In charge of the action: UEVORA
A.2 – Compilation, structuring and implementation of national database and multi-user web platform
Conclusion date: 31/05/2021
This action involves complementary tasks to systematize national information scattered across multiple entities and whose aggregation and availability in a single system of global access is a crucial condition for the possibility of replicating the tasks of the project to other areas of intervention in the post-project period.
Sixteen entities and 8 investigators contributed with data, including IP, University of Évora, ICNF, GNR and several road concessionaires. More than 121 000 roadkill data occurrences including 230 species incorporated into GIS database, already including records send by the LIFE LINES mobile application.
In charge of the action: IP
A.3 - Project implementation, licensing, procurement of permits and contracting procedures necessary to actions C
Start date: 01/08/2015
Conclusion date: 31/12/2017
This action is part of the survey, meeting and gathering of all the technical, legal and administrative documentation necessary for the proper execution of the planned tasks and devices in C actions to comply with the technical and legal requirements that apply to them.
Authorizations, licensing and procurement of permits necessary to actions C were all obtained. These include (1) Design and authorizations of the amphibian passage warning signal, (5) Construction of dry ledges for fauna on 5 culverts, (7) Installation of fences at EN4, EN114 e IP2, (2) Installation of walls to elevate flying vertebrates fly on N114, (1) Installation of barriers and adaptation of culverts for amphibians on EN114, (1) Installation of reflectors for owls on N4, (1) EM529 - Implementation of barriers and tunnels for amphibians and walls for owls, (1) EM535 - Intervention Plan, (1) NIA – Restoration Plan for Nucleus of Environmental Interpretation, (2) Contractual procedures to promote public awareness and voluntary activities in actions in the responsibility of IP, (1) Installation of nets covering the slopes to avoid rabbits, (1) Implementation of a strawberry tree barrier to elevate owl’s flight.
This action consists in the use of electronic devices as a mean of deterrence and removal of some species in areas where mortality is higher. This can be a way to significantly reduce the impacts of linear infrastructure on biodiversity with lower investment costs compared to other solutions.
Five prototypes were developed, namely a mobile system for detecting fauna roadkill in roads, a device for avoiding the presence of small rodents near roads, a device for avoiding the presence of owls near roads, a device for avoiding bird landing at electrical posts, and a device for monitoring bird approaching and landing. The prototypes were tested and tuned with data with several adaptations done to improve performance.
In the case of the mobile system, two Mobile Mapping Trailer prototypes were developed, with excellent results, providing a high rate of correct classification (>60%) at higher speeds (70-60 km/h) than traditional surveys (20-30 km/h). Several versions for the dissuasion device for rodents using ultrasounds were developed, resulting in a clear reduction of the presence of rodents near roads.
The dissuasion device for owl includes a motion detection system based on infrared sensors and a sound device. Whenever motion is detected, the device plays different sounds directed to dissuade owls from approaching the road. Regarding the dissuasion device for large birds, this prototype is similar to the owls’ device. The monitor device for birds’ approaching and behaviour on electrical lines includes a camera with full HD resolution and infrared emitters for night vision capabilities, as well as a temperature sensor to detect movement and an embedded algorithm for any motion detection on the image. When motion is detected, the camera starts recording video. All three prototypes have finished the test stage under action D3 and data is being analysed for assessing its efficiency.
The tasks regarding this action aim to put in place a nursery for the production of plant material (plants and seeds) needed to conservation tasks provided for in the C actions, especially those that relate to the promotion of natural populations of native flora.
A location for the nursery has been found at the property of Casa João Cidade (a local association working with disabled people) The referred land parcel has been made available to MARCA to install the Plant Nursery since the beginning of April 2016.
After installing the structures of the nursery and preparing the plots, propagation work started concerning the sowing of herbaceous to produce seeds and the sowing of woody alveoli of woody species. To produce the plants, seeds collected by the Flora and Vegetation team of the University of Évora were used. An area of 5.000 m2 of produced plants was created.
With this action, we intend to develop a new type of treadmill called "horizontal eco track” - the ECO- HAL A2S - to minimize the electrocution and collision of medium and large birds in medium voltage powerlines previously identified with high bird mortality rates. This new design focus on having 1 collision plan, in the reduction of electrocution and collision and being a long-life solution (30 years).
The development of the prototype was the responsibility of EDP-Distribuição and the selection of lines (13km) to be intervened by QUERCUS in collaboration with EDP-Distribuição and UEVORA.
After the ECO- HAL A2S final design was concluded, it is to be tested at an experimental stage during action C.5.
In charge of the action: QUERCUS
A.7 - Elaboration and approval of Internal Standards of guidance to support management in post-project
Start date: 01/10/2019
Conclusion date: 31/12/2020
This action intends to develop and internally approve a set of rules, involving guidelines for internal teams (especially the design and monitoring) and for subcontracts (especially those associated with maintenance and current conservation, to particularly control vegetation and maintain of installed devices).
IP has developed a document for fauna mitigation measures entitle INSTRUÇÃO TÉCNICA GR.IT.AMB.001 - MEDIDAS DE PROTEÇÃO DA FAUNA (Technical Instruction GR.IT.AMB.001 – Measures to protect fauna) which includes the measures applied in LIFE LINES project that have been considered efficient. The document intends to instruct the application of solutions to protect fauna from the most significant impacts caused by the roads. It refers to solutions to be implemented on railways and roads, where intervention is recognized as needed, both on new roads/railways and on existing sections of already built ones where roadkill rate is previously recorded or is expected to occur.
In addition, some of the measures applied in LIFE LINES were considered in terms of reference for actual and future Road Maintenance Contracts for all country, assuming its appliance in the near future.
In charge of the action: IP
C.1 - Integrated Mitigation of the reduction of conductivity and permeability of the landscape in national and principal roads.
Start date: 01/03/2016
Conclusion date: 31/08/2020
This action involves the use of information collected from monitoring on the mitigation of the main "hotspots" of mortality, including a set of sections of a reduced extension but high priority in terms of conservation of local biodiversity; in addition, and in conjunction with the above, ensure as far as possible a wider range of measures, both in terms of target species / groups of mitigation tasks such as the types of measures to be implemented.
All tasks proposed in this action were accomplished. In what concerns barriers and the culvert adaptations for amphibians, the chosen location was one important segment of EN114 bordered by several water bodies and where have been registered a high number of amphibians’ road kills. Regarding the electronic prototypes to avoid owls and small mammals near the roads, these devices were developed by FCUP, under the framework of Action A.4, and installed by IP. About 32 km of existing fences at IP2 were replaced and a complementary net set in “L” format was installed. Other tasks include adaptations to fauna passages in six culverts at EN4, EN114 e IP2; the implementation and rectification of fences in small segments near six culverts at EN4, EN114 e IP2; 100 Swareflex wildlife warning reflector were installed in EN4 and, also, barriers to elevate the bird’s flight. Additionally, nets covering road slopes to avoid rabbits were applied in two 500 m of EN4 stretches on both sides. Overall, monitoring results show a reduction for amphibian species road kills at the location of mitigation measures, and an overall reduction for birds, bats, owls, and some carnivores’ road kills.
In charge of the action: IP
C.2 - Potentiation of the verges and marginal parcels of roads infrastructures as shelter areas, refuge, food and / or displacement.
Start date: 01/03/2016
Conclusion date: 31/12/2020
This action has 3 main tasks: control of road vegetation and control of invasive species, implementation of micro-reserves, and implementation of a strawberry tree barrier to elevate owl’s flight.
Regarding the control of road vegetation and invasive species, to perform this task, with improved control techniques, two approaches were conducted:
1 - The general and regular control of vegetation, including the invasive species was conducted by IP in the IP2, EN4, EN114 and EN18/IP2 road verges, on approximately 3 m wide strips counting from the limit of the paved section, on each side of the road, on a total of 314 km. The area of intervention was approximately 942 000 m2. The improved techniques included: more frequency in mowing actions; the possibility of mowing just 1.5 m in the immediate proximity of the asphalt in areas where it’s important to keep a green strip as a corridor for small animals; and possibility of leaving some bushes and vegetation “islands” (instead of cutting all the vegetation) that can create refuges and stepping stones for small animals.
2 - In 58 selected spots specific methods near road verges were applied to control invasive species Acacia dealbata, Acacia melanoxylon, Ailanthus altissima and Arundo donax, under the monitoring of UEVORA, in order to test and compare its results. The area of intervention is approximately 7.000 m2. These techniques include: herbicide brush application on the stump immediately after the tree cut; injection of herbicide in the trees; debarking of the tree trunk (Acacia spp.); successive cuts of the stems (Arundo donax); total remove of small new shoots (including the roots); plantation of native trees to compete with the invasive species (combined with the previous techniques). After budgetary restructuring, 53 additional plots, (6.565.7 m2) were added to the initial area.
Regarding the implementation of micro-reserves, to promote both the autochthonous vegetation and the habitat for project target butterfly, following the selection of two micro-reserves (A and B) in EN4 road (5.5 ha), under the management of the IP, an intervention plan elaborated for the flora activities was implemented by MARCA and UEVORA, with the participation of IP and several volunteers. The interventions included sowing and plantation of native flora species.
Finally, regarding the implementation of a strawberry tree barrier to elevate owl’s flight, IP planted several hundred Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) in the micro-reserve B in an area of high level of owl mortality. This task was executed with help from volunteers, in the framework of Action E8. This plantation, besides its primary function, will contribute to the achievement of micro-reserve goals including promotion of autochthonous vegetation and butterflies (e.g. Charaxes jasius which larvae fed of this bush).
Micro-reserves were maintained (there was the need of taking care of the growing plants and replace the ones that died) during the total period of the Project and beyond it, since IP is keeping it after the Project ends.
This action consists in the installation of specific road signs to mark areas of high mortality of amphibians. The design of amphibian’s road sign was completed in 2016, the new road sign was approved by the National Authority for Road Safety and all 10 road signs were installed (6 amphibian road signs (2 pairs in EN114 and one par in EN4) and 4 general fauna road (in two locations on EN4).
This action involves work of defining features, development, testing and operation of a mobile application based on Android system to allow the expeditious collection of mortality data (georeferenced and photographed) by professional users and the general public as well as a dynamic link to the national data platform developed in A.2 action.
The mobile application is already developed, through a collaboration between IP and UEvora, and was made available to the public in Google Play since July 2019. It allows submitting roadkill events with corresponding information such as species, age, sex, GPS coordinates, and photos. It is possible to view existing events on a map or a list. IP has promoted a press conference to publicize it, inviting the main TVs, radio and newspapers. The press conference had a huge positive impact: 44 news on national TV news, main and local radio stations, and national and local newspapers / magazines.
Since it started operating and until 31 May 2021 the LIFE LINES App has 935 registered users (of which 7.9% are regular users), including 36 institutional users, 20 academics, 10 professionals, 12 environmental NGOs and 40 regular citizens. A total of 1524 records were validated, which 24.6% corresponded to new roadkill records added to the National Roadkill Database since the App started operating.
More information on how to download the APP in https://lifelines.uevora.pt/index.php/app-life-lines/
This action objective is to rehearse and evaluate the efficacy of the anti-electrocution and anti-collision device developed in action A.6 to reduce the mortality of medium and large birds in medium voltage lines.
The 49 poles (pylons) frames along 13km of intervened lines were installed in June and July 2020. Monitoring of ecological effectiveness, based on a BACI approach was carried out under Action D.3 by the QUERCUS team with the support of UEVORA.
In charge of the action: QUERCUS
C.6 - Development, essay and application of biodiverse grasslands to promote biodiversity in linear infrastructures
Start date: 01/09/2015
Conclusion date: 31/12/2020
With this action we intended to develop seed mixtures of native plant species and with interest for conservation, for sowing on slopes of linear infrastructures to promote increased plant diversity of these structures. In addition to the promotion of floristic biodiversity, we aimed to further ensure habitat promotion in favour of butterfly species that are targeted by the project.
Practical work included the maintenance of plants in the greenhouse, harvest and /or processing of seeds to ensure project needs (shrub and seed production) and possible after-life needs. A set of 1075 flora species registered in the project's intervention area was initially tested and included in the database to use in road and ecotrails seed mixtures following specific criteria on plant traits. Based on this information and on the prospection of flora populations in the project region (Action A.1), seeds from 165 native species were harvested. Of this native species, based on the database information and on the prospection of flora populations in the project region, 50 were selected to be promoted and included in the biodiverse mixtures. Germination protocols were developed for species with conservation interest and respective summary sheets. Biodiverse seed mixture was sowed in Autumn 2016 in roads and micro-reserves (ecotrails, N4 micro-reserves, and powerlines poles) in 2017. During the spring 2019 and 2020, maintenance of plots and evaluation of species performance and sustainability was conducted. Spring 2021 period allowed collecting seeds for the post-life.
Results included eight new protocols of species germination with conservation interest, 153 species with harvested seeds and 23 intervention essay areas. Four seed mixtures, two for application on roads and two for application on micro-reserves in decommissioned railways (ecotrails) and powerlines pole bases were developed.
In charge of the action: UEVORA
C.7 - Mitigation measures and potentiation of roads in Évora municipality
Start date: 01/10/2015
Conclusion date: 31/06/2020
The action included tasks related to the structural adjustment on municipal road EM529, where the mortality of amphibians is high due to the absence of crossing solutions, and enhancement measures for similar hedge trimmers to C.2 of action, particularly in terms of invasive alien control and promotion of cores of shrubby and herbaceous vegetation (and in some sections also arboreal) which encourage its use as a sheltering element, refuge and / or dispersion for wildlife.
Areas of intervention covered by mitigation measures include 9kms of municipal roads parts and 21km of disabled railways (ecotrail).
Seven specific ACO tunnels and 666 m of barriers covering 9 passages (two existed culverts plus the seven new ACO tunnels) were installed by CME at two locations in Municipal Road EM529. After full installation of tunnels and barriers, small adjustments (often cement transversal walls) were made to correct for uneven ground surface and better guide small animals for safe passages. These were all concluded by April 2018. Additionally, one owl elevated flight barrier was also installed in EM529 in September 2019.
In the Évora ecotrail, UEVORA implemented the intervention plans previously prepared for 10 micro-reserves, including plantations of 25 shrub or tree species and complemented with plantations of 4 bulbous species. The plants used were provided by CME, MARCA and UEVORA. Sowing of native species was also carried out in plots installed in the micro-reserves. The seeds of the 42 herbaceous species used were harvested and cleaned by MARCA and UEVORA. Regarding invasive exotic flora species, CME carried out the control of Arundo donax for the consecutive years, according to the recommendations of UEVORA. In 8 plots (0.66 ha) the control of this species was made through improved methods by applying manual and mechanical cut, followed by rhizomes extraction using a backhoe, and soil sieving, to ensure the effective removal of the rhizomes. After this procedure, different native shrub and tree species were planted. In 4 reference plots (0.13 ha), the control of A. donax was made only by using the traditional cut method.
Regarding the new practices of vegetation management on verges, several meetings were conducted between partners on the best way to make compatible the conservation needs (minimize the impact of the current management practices on small fauna) and the new legislation (DL20/2018, 14 February) on fire prevention. These resulted in the application whenever possible of vegetation management measures on verges such as: no soil ploughing have been generally considered in all roads; in verges crossing forest landscapes, when possible selective cutting only with vegetation maintenance purposes, otherwise, annual cutting of grassy and scrub vegetation leaving at least a 1m wide vegetation strip uncut or with a minimum height of 60 cm on the inner verge side, keeping important patches (endangered species habitats – orchids, Cabrera vole) untouched; in verges crossing open areas use as much as possible verges as biodiversity refuges.
Action main results are: 7 endemic flora species promoted (one of them only present in the seed mixture developed for the ecotrails); favoured habitat for 7 butterfly species; habitat for small mammals promoted due to bulbous flora species plantation; Arundo donax control (only invasive species well represented along the Évora Ecotrail).
In charge of the action: CME
C.8 - Mitigation measures and potentiation of roads in Montemor-o-Novo municipality
Start date: 01/08/2015
Conclusion date: 30/06/2020
This action integrated tasks related to the structural change of route along a stretch of municipal road EM535, where the mortality of micromammals and amphibians is high due to improper road verge management and absence of containment solutions (barriers) to prevent their motion to the road lane.
In total, 4.300 m of newly designed (in cooperation with CME) concrete barriers for amphibians, two ACO tunnels and two new concrete tunnels were installed. Additionally, two concrete dry ledges, for small fauna, not predicted in the proposal were built in a culvert that is often flooded. About 1km of canvas barriers were installed with the help of volunteers in the framework of action E.10. Regarding the new practices of vegetation management on verges, several meetings were conducted between partners on the best way to make compatible the conservation needs (minimize the impact of the current management practices on small fauna) and the new legislation (DL20/2018, 14 February) on fire prevention. UEVORA team in association with the Intermunicipal Community of Alentejo Central (CIMAC) which represents 14 municipalities in the project area and its surroundings, produced a “Guide for Promotion of Biodiversity in Roadside Areas” (see more in Documentação / Material de Divulgação). Part of the recommendations included leaving uncut small patches of verge vegetation where Microtus cabrerae colonies (a species included in annexes II and IV of Habitats Directive) were detected; and leaving a thinner strip of tall grass, with at least 60 cm wide, along the verge adjacent to the fence, in areas of lower fire risk (e.g. pastures and open agricultural areas).
Additionally, to maximize results, CMMN increased the awareness, involvement, and training of fuel management personnel, as well as about the control of exotic invasive species. Concerning the Montemor-o-Novo ecotrail, several tasks were carried out, namely the installation of biodiverse sowings, and planting of shrubs for butterflies and other pollinators to promote biodiversity, as well as the reinforcement of plantations in micro-reserves. Additionally, the work aimed at the selective cutting of vegetation including invasive alien plants in the Montemor-o-Novo ecotrail.
The work of this action gives continuity to the A.5 action, under which the nursery facility was installed, aiming to address over the project period, the plant needs (woody and herbaceous) and seeds (when applicable) required for other conservation work planned in C. actions.
Objectives and expected results have been achieved and exceeded. The plant nursery was able to provide the foreseen conservation actions project needs. Project implementation allowed to produce 93 plant species, of which at least 80% of these species belong to project area natural habitats. By the end, the plant nursery had in stock 13 210 plants. Action C9 was extended until the end of the project so it could continue to fulfil its needs (plants, seeds, data, etc), and prepare plant nursery for after-LIFE operation.
Along the project plant nursery protocols were developed in order to ensure bi-annual stock evaluation; germination / propagation success; identification of seed collection and mother-plants sites; propagation methods; monitoring of plant propagation; optimization of plant watering; optimal Phyto sanitarian plant production conditions; and health and safety of plant nursery operation.
The activity of the nursery has focused on the production of plants for the implementation phase of the project, as well as for the after-LIFE phase. The work also was developed to ensure the sustainability of it in the post-project phase, namely developing communication to reach the niche market of native plants at the national level, both for nature conservation and implementation of green spaces adapted to climate change.
In charge of the action: MARCA-ADL
C.10 - Promotion of “islands” of Biodiversity along the power lines
Start date: 01/07/2016
Conclusion date: 31/12/2018
This action aimed to enhance landscape connectivity, by creating demonstration plots (micro-reserves) in the base of sequential power lines poles, where native flora species were promoted, providing also habitat for target small mammals and butterfly species, thus constituting stepping-stones for fauna in a largely dominated agriculture landscape.
Ten plots were intervened and other 5 were used as references. These were subjected to distinct types of interventions, including fencing to prevent livestock grazing, sowing and planting of native herbaceous species and shrubs (namely using the biodiverse seed mixture developed in the scope of Action C.6), and the construction of a pond. A total area of 720 m2 was intervened. If the implemented measures prove to be efficient, they can be replicated on a wider scale, and easily implemented by companies responsible for the management of electrical infrastructures, without a significant increase in operating costs, but certainly with high benefits for biodiversity conservation. Overall, the measures implemented promoted a total of 18 flora and fauna species with conservation interest: 9 flora species (e.g. Calicotome villosa - restricted distribution in Portugal; Silene scabriflora - endemic from the Iberian Peninsula and northwest of Morocco); 2 species of small mammals - Talpa occidentalis and Microtus duodecimcostatus; and 7 butterfly species (e.g. Vanessa cardui, Thymelicus lineola, Melanargia ines).
This action, required by the LIFE program, aimed to evaluate the socio-economic effects of the project on the economy and population.
The expenses incurred by all the partners within the project were analysed, and subsequently evaluated and quantified (where possible) the direct and indirect benefits resulting from them for local communities (and possibly for external communities). The indicators (n=17) were assessed considering five pillars rated as being key to evaluate project socio-economic outcomes by the associated beneficiaries: economic, networking, training, volunteering, and awareness and involvement.
In the economic sector, we highlight the investment made in the project area, in which 748 256.49 € were spent in 181 companies. Additionally, 27 direct jobs were created by the project. Regarding volunteering, we involved 3926 people and 62 entities, with the participation of local and non-local agents, including foreign people that wanted to actively intervene in the project's tasks. A major positive impact of the project on society was achieved through project awareness and training actions. Those included, among others, workshops and field visits targeting specific and general audiences, and direct work with local schools. The project team carried out a total of 327 initiatives to raise awareness and involve young people and the general population. Cooperation and involvement with different types of institution was intense, including official partnerships with GNR, REN and EDP (now, E-REDES) and informal collaboration with at least 17 other institutions, counting NGOs, all stages of school and academic pre and postgraduate levels, conservation agencies, vegetation management workers, etc. Fifteen Academic works of all levels (Bachelors, Masters and PhDs) were done entirely or partially with the support of LIFE LINES project and at least four will be finished in the immediate after LIFE period.
Tasks of the action required by the LIFE program, aiming to assess the effects of the project on ecosystem functions related to the execution of the work.
The contribution for each “Ecosystem Functions/Services” (EF/S) was inferred indirectly through the effects of the project on three main drivers, hereafter called indicators, of RF/S: (1) ecological connectivity, (2) biodiversity and (3) people awareness, all of which were globally improved through project interventions. The impact on each EF/S was scored as small, moderate, or high. Positive moderate/high Impacts were mostly associated with improvements in ecological connectivity and people awareness. EF/S relying on biodiversity alone were scored as positive, but most of the time were small.
We also assessed the impact of LIFE LINES project for the United Nations “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDSs). The major contribution is for “Goal 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss” supporting mostly targets 15.1 (conservations, restorations and sustainable use of ecosystems); 15.5 (reduce de degradation of natural habitat and loss of biodiversity); 15.9 (reduce the impact of invasive alien species); and 15.9 (integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into planning).
Additionally, we conducted surveys of local people and visitors using the target infrastructure for recreational purposes to assess changes in perceptions about the local fauna and flora values, as well as on existing threats due to the presence of invasive flora invasive flora. People show high awareness and attributed high importance for nature conservation in general and for the LIFE LINES goals and actions.
This action is divided into D.3.1 Monitoring Roadkill and Mitigation Measures Connectivity, D.3.2 - Monitoring of Prototype Efficiency (A.4 Actions, C.4 And C.5) and D.3.3 - Monitoring Flora Vegetation at Micro Rails Intervened and Microreservas.
Monitoring was based, whenever possible, on a methodology BACI (Before-After-Control-Impact), comparing the results in areas before (action A.1) and after the intervention and using similar control areas (no intervention) (D.3.1 and D .3.3).
The following results stood out:
- Solutions to mitigate road mortality and barrier effects: solutions based on impeding movement and access to roads to reduce mortality were generally effective for carnivores (L-shape fence), rabbits (wire mesh), birds (barriers to elevate flight), and amphibians (concrete and canvas barriers). Interventions aiming to improve connectivity benefited movement between roadsides, but showed little effect in reducing roadkill, namely for carnivores (dry ledge). Deterring solutions were mostly ineffective or with low impact mitigating road mortality for owls (Swareflex reflectors, dissuasion device), and amphibians (road sign). For rodents, dissuasion device seems promising but needs further testing.
- Solutions to mitigate collision and electrocution in powerlines: the new pole frame (ECO-HAL A2S) developed for medium voltage power lines was highly effective in reducing electrocution and also contributed to reduce collision. The Deterring devices with sounds aiming to reduce bird landing on devices showed limited capacity despite punctually contributing to flush birds from perching.
- Solutions to promote biodiversity in linear infrastructures: invasive alien species (IAS) control revealed challenging but have contributed to lower the occupancy of IAS in road verges and ecotrails, benefiting the recovery of native species. Seed-mixtures largely contributed for the indicators of the floristic community increasing local biodiversity either in road verges, ecotrails or poles of powerlines. The creation of micro-reserves through germination and plantation of native plants also contributed for the promotion for animal communities such as small mammals and butterflies.
- Solutions for monitoring and reporting data: the creation of the National Roadkill database stands as one of the most successful reporting tools, gathering 121 531 records in a common effort linking academy, road agencies and concessionaries, and traffic and environmental police. The LIFE LINES App, though retrieving a number of records below expectations, was well-received and contributed with ~25% of the data during the time of operation until the end of the project.
- Global impacts of the interventions: overall the project contributed to a decrease in mortality either in powerlines or roads. Birds and bats had significant decreases in road mortality, while amphibians and owls show non-significant decreasing trends. Connectivity has increased for most species, especially in intervened areas near roads. Overall biodiversity indicators show reductions of 36% for invasive plant species in the area, 14 of the top 20 most roakilled bird species presented an increase in overall abundance, as well as the two most roadkilled mammals.
This action allowed the creation of the project website for its presentation, dissemination developed activities and publication of various materials.
The website has been online since October 2015 in Portuguese and English. Over the years it underwent several changes, to make information more accessible and updated as possible to all who visit it. The website has been updated 268 times during the period of execution of the project. The page views accounted 78 743 from 13 804 registered users, having an average number of 223 users / month. The visits were from 112 different countries.
A Facebook account was created in February 2016 to increase the promotion and dissemination of the project by reaching a larger audience. A link to the LIFE LINES Facebook account was also included in the web page so the visitors could see the update of the Facebook simultaneous in the site. The number of followers of the account reached a total of 2451, and in the last years the number have been increasing.
The work of this action was to ensure greater visibility to the intervened areas of work of the project and ensure the dissemination of the support provided to them by the LIFE + program, meeting the required financing needs.
Thus, 64 medium size outdoors were installed in the intervention area and 13 were replaced due to vandalism. In addition, a large outdoor was installed associated with flight elevating wall installed in the framework of Action C.1.
This action was designed to ensure a broader communication and dissemination of the objectives, development and results of the project as well as the support provided to them by the LIFE + program, with the general public.
A Communication Plan was produced in the score of this Action with the help of a professional Communication Agency and approved by CTAG in 2016. It includes a communication strategy and standard graphic guidelines aiming a better and uniform image for LIFE LINES promotion and dissemination. This plan acted as a guide for project communication, providing all partners with standard messages and key materials that guide LIFE LINES communication. It was updated whenever necessary.
The project has produced 727 news, including 15 in national TV, 175 in journals, 145 in communication websites, 308 Facebook posts, six radio interviews, 72 radio online news and 72 radio spots (“LIFE LINES em FM”). Also one press conference and six press releases were achieved, related to the Seminars and the LIFE LINES App launch.
From the outputs that have been produced we highlight:
- a piece in a private TV channel (TVI) regarding roadkill and the project LIFE LINES (2016);
- two participations in the program “Biosfera”, a program focused on environmental issues (broadcasted on National Television Network - RTP2 on April 2017 and March 2021);
- two participations on a short radio program of the series “90 segundos de ciência” (90 seconds of science) that was broadcasted on National Radio (Antena 1) in July 2017 and March 2021;
- three participations on the series “Minuto verde” (Green minute) that was broadcasted on National TV (RTP1) (one transmitted in 2017 and two in 2019);
- a piece in National TV (RTP regiões) regarding fauna passages in 2018;
- an interview about the new traffic sign in the program “Reportagem ao Minuto”, transmitted by TVI in January 2019;
- several news in the national TV channels and in the national press regarding the launch of the LIFE LINES App in 2019.
Four public seminars were organized. The Seminars were entitled “LIFE LINES – Linear Infrastructure Networks with Ecological Solutions” (2016); “25 years of LIFE projects in South of Portugal” (2017); “2nd LIFE LINES Seminar” (2018) and the series of webinars organized by the ICNF, Portuguese Environmental Agency, “Webinar às terças: Impactes e oportunidades das estradas na conservação da biodiversidade” (2021). The public seminar predict for 2019, was replaced by a “LIFE LINES Open Day”.
The work frames of this action were aimed at producing a set of complementary audiovisual materials, to support the communication activities of Communication Plan established in E.3 action.
In the scope of the project, 20 teasers, 20 thematic videos were produced and one documentary, as predicted in the initial proposal (see Gallery/Videos). In addition, two tutorial videos were produced, the Tutorial App LIFE LINES and the Project Summary, presented during the IENE 2020 International Conference. Other thirteen dissemination videos were produced in the frame of the project. The documentary “LIFE LINES – Architecture for wildlife was also produced in the scope of this action. The film points out all the major actions and conclusions of the project, for a non-specialized public.
Regarding the radio spots, a collaboration with Radio Nova Antena (highest rated local radio) was established at the beginning of the year 2019 and was finished at the end of the year 2020. This weekly radio rubric entitled “LIFE LINES em FM” accounted for 72 radio spots produced and transmitted (see Documentation/LIFE LINES in FM).
The tasks regarding this action aimed at raising awareness of the academic communities of UEVORA, FCUP and AU to the theme of the project and the importance of collecting and forwarding data to the structured national platform under A.2 action, either through own work and / or through the use of mobile application produced under the action C.4. They aimed to attract and support the realization of graduate theses (Masters and PhD) prepared based on data obtained in the project.
In this context, actions have been carried out to disseminate the project and the importance of mortality records to university students. Regarding the postgraduate theses in the scope of the project, 2 doctoral theses are taking place and 6 master's theses have already been completed (see more in Documentation/Publications).
Several efforts were made regarding the raising awareness to collaborate more actively in the data collection to the national mortality database of the academic community. The project team presented a total of 9 lectures in different Portuguese Universities (University of Évora, Faculty of Sciences of University of Lisbon, University of Aveiro, Universidade Lusófona), reaching over 400 undergraduate and pos gratuate students. Regarding the postgraduate theses in the scope of the project, 6 master thesis were concluded and 5 PhD were ongoing. Fourteen scientific papers supported entirely or partially by LIFE LINES were published in prestigious scientific journals. Those papers are relevant since they disseminate the project aims and finds among the international scientific community.
The tasks regarding this action aimed to enhance the replication of the project results and thus contribute to their demonstration purposes. Was intended to achieve a set of predefined target audiences, it was recognized to have interest in the issues addressed and to use the developments and results of the project in the context of their professional activity.
In the scope of this action, 12 workshops were organized. One regarding the training of the IP teams that monitor the roadkill and insert the data in the IP’s GIS; three workshops were organized regarding the control of invasive plants; five workshops focused on the importance of properly acquiring and registering fauna roadkill records, three of them were organized in the scope of the protocol with the GNR; and finally the four related with the presentation of the Best Practices Guides.
In the framework of project LIFE LINES four Best Practices Guides (see more in Documentation/ Best Practices Guides) in Portuguese and English languages were produced and were entitle:
- Best Practice Guide for Monitoring and Recording Fauna Mortality Data from Roadkill;
- Best Practice Guide to Manage Vegetation and Promote Biodiversity in Linear Infrastructures;
- Best Practice Guide of Solutions for Mitigating the Impacts of Roads on Animal Communities;
- Best practice Guide. Innovative solution to reduce bird mortality in medium-voltage power lines: the Horizontal Eco-cross arms.
This action was intended to ensure a series of contacts with the respective beneficiaries to exchange experiences and information that contribute to the successful development of the proposed project, to improve the effectiveness of their results, and to further spread.
Action developed as predicted. The project was visit by 5 European experts, had made 15 direct and regular contacts with other LIFE projects, visiting at least two LIFE projects outside Portugal. In addition, the team participated in the Greenweek 2020 issues and in other 16 related European seminars / events.
The tasks of this action seek to involve local communities as well as external stakeholder groups in the pursuit and implementation of conservation task that by not requiring skilled labour, can be helped by volunteers.
In the scope of the project, 152 volunteer activities have been carried out with various groups of volunteers (children, young people and adults), with more than 3122 participants. Overall activities ensured the support native species propagation, invasive alien species control, seed collection, composting, reforestation activities and plant nursery infrastructure works.
The tasks regarding this action intended to ensure communication, technical and scientific discussion, dissemination of the objectives and results of the project as well as the support provided to them by the LIFE + program, with specialised public in a European wide context including representatives of organizations with responsibility cool in the areas of labour, management companies, NGO's, researchers and technicians in general.
In this context, two seminars on the project were held (2 June 2016 and 9 May 2018) and one to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Life projects, bringing together several LIFE project teams from southern Portugal in Évora. The online event IENE International Conference 2020 was also organized, whose theme was “LIFE LINES – Linear Infrastructure Networks with Ecological Solutions”. The Conference took place from 12 to 14 of January of 2021, after being postponed due to the Covid-19 restrictions. The LIFE LINES Final Seminar was included in this international event. The IENE International Conference accounted with 293 confirmed attendees from 40 different countries representing the five continents. During three days, participants were able to assist to 115 full oral presentations, 36 lightning talks, and 13 workshops and chat with 40 posters authors, representing studies and projects worldwide. Regarding the LIFE LINES Final Seminar held in 13 January of 2021, 150 participants attended it from 3 continents and 21 different countries.
This action was designed to raise awareness among 3rd cycle of Basic Education level scholars and Secondary Education students (13 to 18 years old).
During the Project, several environmental awareness actions have been carried out, such as field trips directed at all ages (e.g., "Quiet Days" Activity), holiday camps for children and young people and activities at the Center for Environmental Interpretation of Baldios (Montemor-o-Novo) rehabilitated under the LIFE LINES. A total of 51 activities were performed involving a total of 3056 participants from young to elder ages. The project was able to reach 699 students from 35 classes / schools from the Basic to Secondary Education level. Among the outputs produced in this action is the T-shirt of the program "Adopts a Road" and a Flyer for disclosure in Montemor-o-Novo and Évora. Several articles and news were published in Boletim Municipal (Municipal Bulletin) a journal periodically published by CMMN and freely distributed to all population of the municipality.
In the final months of the project was produced the report for the Laity / Layman Report, which aims to ensure communication and dissemination of the objectives, development and results of the project for a broad and non-specialist audience (see more in Documentation/. Layman’s Report).
This action aimed the creation and operation of a management structure to guarantee the proper execution of the project to ensure its objectives and to respond to project management funded under the LIFE program. Management structure including the Project coordination (CP), Technical Committee to support project management (CTAG), Management Committee (CG), and Scientific Monitoring Committee (CA) were implemented at the beginning of the project and are working accordingly.
In total, 30 CTAG, 277 CP, 2 CG meetings and 3 CA meetings were performed. Moreover, at least 250 small meetings involving the project coordination and subgroup of CTAG, CG and CA have taken place. When needed scientific consultancy, we performed restricted meetings with only the CA members specialized in the issues being discussed or needing a decision.
In addition to being an obligation to a project financed through LIFE+, the compilation and structuring of Project Development Indicators is a good management practice by objectives, which will allow at all times to identify any gaps or deviations and propose the necessary adjustments.
A total of 170 indicators were updated regularly, with 45% above the expected, 24% have been achieved as expected, 21% were not completed as predicted and 10% were not possible to quantify. To see the full list and status of project indicators see the "List of progress indicators" box on the project website.
The task regarding this action aims to check the financial implementation of the project compliance with the LIFE + requirements. The Financial Statement was examined and all procedures for auditor engagement were carried out. According to the report, no significant issues were found in the audit.
The task regarding this action aimed to draft a "Communication Plan and Post-LIFE Conservation" which will also respond to obligations of the beneficiaries of a LIFE + Biodiversity project.
This plan should clearly and operationally identify a set of objectives, actions and measures necessary for the continuation of conservation and dissemination of results and conservation work in the post-project period, as well as the means necessary for its implementation and the sources of internal or external funding to be allocated for such purposes.
In charge of the action: UEVORA