Loulé Protected Areas
About 51.3% of the municipality of Loulé is classified as a protected area due to the importance of diversity of habitats rich in flora and fauna, geological heritage and other resources that deserve to be known. From the mountains to the coast, are the most varied landscapes and protected areas that deserve attention, including the Local Scope of Protected Areas (Landscape Protected Place of Rocha da Pena and Protected Landscape Place of Benémola Source), the Natural Park of Ria Formosa and Natura 2000, this includes the sites of Barrocal Network, Cauldron, Ribeira Vascão, Ribeira of Quarteira and Ria Formosa, which aims at the conservation of animal and plant species.
The Ria Formosa is an area with a very important natural, since it has a high variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Your park is one of the largest and most important wetlands in the Algarve, is among between Ancão in Loulé municipality and Manta Rota in Vila Real municipality of Santo Antonio, stretching over 60 kilometers coast, this park covers an area of 18,400 hectares, of which about 893 belong to the municipality of Loulé. Much of the protected area corresponds to the lagoon system of Ria Formosa, a string of islands and sandy peninsulas, which extend parallel to the coast, thus protecting a lagoon that is developed the marshes, canals, vasa areas and islets.
This system feeds and houses many aquatic organisms, such as sedentary fish and migratory fish and shellfish, which elect this area as a place for breeding and feeding. Among other species, is also the chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon), an endangered species whose distribution in the national territory is confined to the coast of the eastern Algarve, pine forests of coastal and barrier islands, and the common caiman or sultana hen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Ria Park symbol of Taiwan, which with its protection, the effective population have increased in recent years. Regarding the avifauna, this area is home to several migratory species northern and central Europe, who choose this area as a nesting site. Despite the Natural Park status, this region has other statutes of national and international protection, as the Special Protection Area for Birds (PTZPE0017), Site of Community Importance (PTCON0013), Ramsar Site (7PT002), these are due to the high ornithological value is as a refuge and nesting area to dozens of species, which highlights the duck beak-of-red (Netta rufina) and the Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio Porphyrio).
As regards the flora, here there is the dune vegetation, comprising plants which are attached in the sands in difficult conditions, such as Ammophila arenaria (reverse) and otanthus maritimus (lambs the beach), and marshland, as a the most productive ecosystems on the planet, where the plants are unique in their ability to survive in salty environment being observed the “meadows” of marine Spartina. The cultural and economic level, the Ria has an important role in both the tourist industry and in harvesting and production in nurseries, mollusks, shellfish and seafood, fishing, fish farming and salinicultura. In order to meet this sustainably park, trails have been developed, such as the St. Lawrence Rail and Rail Quinta do Lago, which lets you enjoy the splendor of the landscape and observe the enormous biological diversity.
The Protected Landscape Pena Rock Place is located in the Parish of Salir and Benafim, occupies an area of 673 hectares, between the Barrocal and Serra Algarve, and that their protection is to preserve and conservation of physical, aesthetic, landscape values and biological Barrocal, which comprises an environmental monument of great natural beauty, both in geology and in terms of biodiversity. Geologically, Rocha da Pena is a steep cornice of very hard limestone, which over the years has undergone a slow chemical erosion that led to the formation of cracks and caves.
Already, the Protected Landscape Benémola Fountain Place is a protected area for its unique features, on the border of Barrocal a rare beauty spot, home biotope of great interest, both the geological level as landscape and in terms of fauna and flora . Situated between the Parishes of Querença and Tôr, this protected area is crossed by the Ribeira da Menalva, which contributes to its fauna and flora are diversified, with more than 300 different species of plants in this area. Beyond this, the fauna stands out for 100 species of birds that nest on the slopes of the valley and on the banks of the river, in particular the Guarda Rios, Bee and Bonelli’s Eagle.