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Nature Reserve of Pico da Vara



      

At 1105m of altitude, Pico da Vara is the highest peak of São Miguel. It corresponds to a volcanic fissure system, mostly basaltic, with nearly 4 million years of age and extinct 1 million years ago.  The mountainous relief is cut by deep ravines where permanent, and sometimes torrential, creeks run. With an area of about 1980ha, it presents high botanical and scenic value.

The summit of Pico da Vara is mainly covered by grassland, Deschampsia foliosa, and the slopes by dense Laurel Forest with a high rate of endemic species, among which: Azorean Holly (Ilex perado ssp. azorica), Azorean Juniper (Juniperus brevifolia), Azorean Laurel (Laurus azorica), Portugal Laurel (Prunus azorica), Azorean Heather (Erica azorica), Azorean Blueberry (Vaccinium cylindraceum), Lauristinus (Viburnum treleasei), Azorean Buckthorn (Frangula azorica) and the fern Culcita macrocarpa.


     

Among the bird species endemic to the Azores, the Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) stands out for its rarity, considered endangered by the IUCN and featuring in the Birds Directive.  The Laurel Forest held in this reserve represents the last refuge of this species. It is also possible to see other endemic subspecies of native birds, such as the Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs moreletti), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo rothschildi) and Azores Wood Pingeon (Columba palumbus azoricus).

The Nature Reserve of Pico da Vara is part of the Special Protection Area (SPA) of Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme, under the Natura 2000 Network. It also integrates the CORINE Biotope Project.

It is possible to walk to Pico da Vara through two official pedestrian trails, namely PR7SMI - Algarvia - Pico da Vara and PR23SMI - Povoação - Pico da Vara. Both trails provide a wide panorama over the entire protected area and of the village of Povoação.

For more information about this protected area | Click here


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