NEW’S | Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Climate Change identifies new population of Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae on Santa Maria Island

© Governo dos Açores

The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change, Alonso Miguel, announced, as part of the Regional Meeting of Nature Rangers, held on the island of Santa Maria between July 31 and August 2, the discovery of a new population belonging to the rare endemic subspecies designated as Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae.

Following a visit to the site where this endemic Azorean plant is found, Alonso Miguel explained that “the possibility of the existence of a small colony of Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae in Baía do Cura arose as a result of a boat trip around the island, as part of the census of terns carried out by the Santa Maria Environment and Climate Change Service, during which Diana Braga, a nature ranger, observed specimens that appeared to belong to the species.”

“Considering that the area is only accessible by sea, a team from the Environment and Climate Change Service went to the site, located on the east coast, in the last week of July, and it was possible to verify the presence belonging to specimens of that subspecies,” said the Regional Secretary. He also added that “in a first observation, it is estimated that this population consists of about 20 individuals located in the Protected Area for the Management of Habitats and Species of Baía do Cura, which is part of the Santa Maria Island Nature Park.”

The Regional Secretary for the Environment considers that “given the characteristics of the terrain and the difficulties in accessing the site, the identification and conservation of this new population is particularly complex, but nevertheless, it will certainly be possible to collect seeds from some individuals for propagation in nurseries, so as to ensure the viability of subsequent plantations within the scope of action C3.2 (In-situ conservation) under the LIFE IP AZORES NATURA project.”

“In addition to Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae, specimens of several other endemic and native species were also observed, such as Ammi seubertianum, Azorina vidalii, Spergularia azorica, Festuca petraea, Hypericum foliosum, Euphorbia azorica, Tolpis succulenta, Plantago coronopus and Limonium vulgare. The presence of Aichryson santamariensis is also possibility. This will be confirmed in a forthcoming visit to this site, which is an important stronghold of habitat 1250 – cliffs with endemic flora of the Macaronesian coasts, according to the Habitats Directive,” he revealed.

Until this discovery, only a single population of Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae was known in the wild, consisting of about 71 specimens.

Alonso Miguel also stressed that “Euphorbia stygiana subsp. santamariae has already been the target of several conservation efforts within the scope of the LIFE IP AZORES NATURA project. The recent discovery, which significantly increases the number of known individuals, brings renewed hope to this important goal of ensuring the maintenance of this rare and protected species, valuing and dignifying our biodiversity and natural heritage of the Region, in general, and of Santa Maria, in particular.”

Mauricio De Jesus
Maurício de Jesus é o Diretor de Programação da Rádio Ilhéu, sediada na Ilha de São Jorge. É também autor da rubrica 'Cronicas da Ilha e de Um Ilhéu' que é emitida em rádios locais, regionais e da diáspora desde 2015.