What have you learned on Invasive Species Iberian Week 2023?

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Rota Vicentina’s activities in Invasive Species Week 2023 (SEI’23)

Another Invasive Species Week in which Rota Vicentina participated! This time we organized three activities about invasive species and their impacts on our ecosystems for the local community and schools.

In the Invasive Species Iberian Week, is an initiative promoted by organizations such as the Portuguese Network for the Study and Management of Invasive Species – InvECO Network -, the Invasoras.pt platform and projects such as LIFE Stop Cortaderia, LIFE Invasaqua and Biological Invasions Specialist Group – GEIB – , which involve other organizations and entities at the Iberian level in carrying out an extensive program of awareness activities about invasive species (plant or animal).

This year, the Invasive Species Week happened between May 13th and 21st. In Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast territory, biodiversity suffers several threats. One of them is the invasive species, which spread aggressively through the environment and change our landscapes.

Rota Vicentina Association is aware of what this threat represents for the territory and joins this initiative, besides promoting activities on this topic.

In this week about raising awareness on invasive species, we organized the following activities.

May 13th
Workshop onTrichigalls and invasive control activity

Trichi– short for Trichilogaster acaciaelongifolieae – is the name of a small wasp, having the size of a fruit fly, that feeds solely on the long-leaved wattleAcacia longifolia) and helps to control its propagation.

The meeting point for this activity was in Alteirinhos pilot area. We counted on the wisdom of Biologist and Professor Paula Canha to teach us about Trichi galls.

In addition to wonderful theoretical knowledge, it was also an opportunity to take action! With the invaluable help of 10 volunteers, we installed new galls spots next to a large nucleus of acacias located near the coast, in Alteirinhos. The goal is to promote new Trichi hotspots to control the expansion of the long-leaved wattle that grows voraciously on the dunes.

To close the activity, we walked to the main invasion front of acacia to learn some invasive control techniques, such as manual pulling or peeling of acacias, and good practices and care to take.

Although we now count on the help of this small wasp in Alteirinhos, interventions with other control techniques will always be necessary, as this wasp feeds only on the long-leaved wattle. In addition, in this area there are several species of threatened plants, as well as other invasive species of acacia, so the need to intervene effectively and quickly it’s even more urgent.

May 14th Interpretive hike "How to protect the Sea sand juniper?"

On the 14th, we returned to Alteirinhos pilot area. This time, we went with part of the team of Rewilding Southwest Association (RWSW), for an interpretive hike in this special place.

On Sunday afternoon, we walked through the Sea-sand juniper (or Juniperus navicularis) shrubland, a plant that is endangered and is distributed in some patches along the southwestern Alentejo coast. Being the reason why the Alteirinhos pilot area was chosen as an invasive control area by Rota Vicentina, it was also the reason why the Rewilding Association joined us in this activity.

voluntários a caminhar semana espécies invasoras

RWSW Association is currently working directly on the Juniperus navicularis conservation through the partnership in the Zimbral for LIFE project – and joined us to learn about another area where this species exists extensively and relatively well preserved.

In this interpretive hike, we showed the pilot area, as well as the strategy and interventions that we have been carrying out since the LIFE Volunteer Escapes project, in 2018.

Everytime we return there, the place is different and there are always new things to discover, different plants blooming or fruiting, new traces of living beings, a different light, scent, or colors. After all, the landscape is always changing.

May 15th
Environmental Education Activity "Natives vs. Invasives" at Odemira Basic School

The last activity we organized was at Odemira Basic School on May 15th. We were received by a friendly group of first grade students who quickly got involved in our challenges to get to know the invasive plants. These little investigators are sharp and attentive and easily recognized many of the plants we showed and the places where they find them frequently. Besides being fun, children are strong allies in raising awareness about nature conservation topics, so it is always rewarding to do activities with them.

At the end of these days, we did the math, with a positive balance, and realized that about 30 people were involved.

And next year there will be more!


Leonor Pires

Arquitecta Paisagista de formação, sempre esteve ligada à Natureza. Leonor adora plantas, música, artesanato, desenhar e caminhar ao ar livre. O Alentejo é a sua casa.

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