At the beginning of this year, the dune structure adjacent to the reserve partially collapsed, allowing sea water to enter a considerable amount of land, causing a salinisation effect on the soil, threatening biodiversity and the autochthonous flora.

In accordance with the Vila-Condense municipality, the intervention to protect the area should be completed at the beginning of 2024, “the goal is to reconstruct the destroyed dune and restore the existing natural modelling in the inter dune zone, guaranteeing the conditions for the development of vegetation and maintaining the natural dynamics of the dune’s ecosystem.”

The mayor of Vila do Conde, Vítor Costa, considered it “urgent to prevent the advancement of the sea on the land, restoring the affected dune and it’s ecosystem”, highlighting that the intervention will “safeguard the natural values of the protected coastal landscape”.

The issue had been flagged in March by the Portuguese Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity – FAPAS, which organised a warning for the necessity of intervention in the Mindelo Ornithological Reserve in Vila do Conde.

“If nothing is done, part of the reserve will be flooded by sea water, jeopardising the entire historical and cultural heritage of the ROM and threaten the richness of its biodiversity”, Vítor Gonçalves explained.

The Mindelo Ornithological Reserve (ROM), located on the south coast of the municipality of Vila do Conde, was established in 1957, being the first in Portugal and since 2009 it has been integrated into the Fundamental Nature Conservation Network.

Additionally, the importance of a mosaic habitat, which includes dunes, coastal rocks, wetlands and bogs, the home to a diverse range of plants, 81 species of birds, 57 of which have conservation status and 14 of the 17 species of amphibians present in Portugal.