Country Profiles

Portugal - Country Profile

Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Portugal possesses a very diverse natural heritage thanks to its geographical location and geophysical conditions. The Azores and Madeira Archipelagos are situated within the Macaronesian region and thanks to their location, the climatic influences to which they are subject and a substratum of volcanic origin, are home to habitats of quite unique nature and undeniable importance. On the mainland, the dune habitats, the rocky cliffs, the marshes in estuary and lagoon systems are all very important as well. The importance of the estuaries can also be seen from the numerous bird populations, which shelter there and use them as migratory stations, wintering areas or breeding grounds. The nesting areas of seabirds in the Madeira Archipelago deserve a special mention as they host some of the most important colonies in the North Atlantic. About 3,600 species of plants occur in Portugal. There are 69 taxa of terrestrial mammals, a total of 313 bird species, of which around 35% are threatened in some ways, and 17 amphibian and 34 reptile species that occur in Portugal. Some of the main threats to the biological diversity of Portugal include: alteration or destruction of habitats; pollution; overexploitation; invasive alien species; urbanization and fires.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

Portugal mainland (protected areas + Natura 2000 sites) – 2.017.803 ha; 20.47%. Azores and Madeira Regions (Natura 2000/Sites of Community Importance) – 76.758 ha. Azores and Madeira Regions (Natura 2000/Special Conservation Areas) – 49.296 ha.

Percentage of Forest Cover

36.5 % (ca. 3.240.000 ha)

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Portugal’s NBSAP was based on the following ten guiding principles: an overall higher level of protection; the sustainable use of biological resources; prevention; precaution; recuperation; responsibility; integration; participation; international cooperation and decentralization. The NBSAP then lists 10 fundamental strategies that form the basis of their action plan, which include: to promote scientific research and knowledge of local patrimony; to enhance the National Protected Areas Network; to promote the valorization of the protected areas, and ensure the conservation of all social, cultural and natural components; ensure conservation and valorization of areas within the Natura 2000 Network; implement, across the entire national territory, actions specific to the conservation and management of species and habitats of particular interest; integrate conservation and sustainable use principles into national and regional policies and laws; reinforce cooperation between all levels of administration; promote education and formation in conservation fields; ensure public education, awareness and sensitization; and strengthen international cooperation. These strategies are then outlined in detail with short, medium and long term actions that will be taken in order to meet the three objectives of the Convention.