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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Corvo is the smallest of the Azorean islands, located in the extreme northwest of the Archipelago. The proposed Biosphere Reserve encompasses the entire emerged land area of the island and a surrounding marine zone, covering a total area of 25,853 hectares and including landscapes and biological values of great regional, national and international importance. When the Azores Islands were discovered they were uninhabited and no indigenous population is know to have existed. The current population is the product of several centauries of settlers and the miscellany of various ethnic groups. Colonizing Corvo proved to be particularly difficult, not only because of the island’s geographic characteristics and isolation but also due to the harsh impositions that the Portuguese Royal House placed on the residents. Early settlers were given little resources to develop their agriculture and livestock farming activities and were forced to pay heavy taxes and rents. The first colonisation attempts were unsuccessful and only after the importation slaves (thought to have originated from the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde) in 1548 by Gonçalo de Sousa, the then Donatary Captain of Flores and Corvo, was Corvo considered to have an effective settlement. Subsequent to the settlement of slaves, other colonists from Flores, Terceira, Madeira and the north of Portugal inhabited the island.

The resident population on Corvo diminished to about half its numbers in less than a century. This reduction in size was mainly due to various waves of emigration that reached a peak between the 1960s and 1980s, and directly affected the population by the departure of individuals and indirectly by reducing the birth rate. The main emigration destinations were the USA and Canada. At present, Corvo has about 450 habitants concentrated into the only urban nucleus on the island, Vila do Corvo.
A large part of the population is simultaneously linked to several activity sectors and the local economy is still heavily dependant on the primary sector and in particular, livestock breeding, subsistence agriculture and fisheries, which are also subsidised. The only existing manufacturing industry on the island is the production of cheese by a local factory while several services exist that serve domestic needs and some related to tourism, although these are still insubstantial. Exports are insignificant and almost entirely limited to milk products, livestock and fish.

The areas of the proposed Biosphere Reserve are contiguous and comprise different territorial management units:
• The Core Areas consist of sites classified under the EU’s Natura 2000 Network, special protection areas for marine resources and the Corvo Regional Natural Park;
• The Buffer Zones comprise public and private lands or marine zones, with land/sea use practices in accordance with the various territory planning and activity schemes, on national, regional, and local levels.
• The Transition Areas consist of urban or developable areas, in public and private lands, with land-use practices in accordance with territorial planning and activity schemes.
  Major ecosystem type   humid elevated altitudes, coastal cliffs, low coastal areas, open ocean marine and great depths
  Major habitats & land cover types   Coastal zones (regional); Marine zones (regional); Coastal cliffs (local); Elevated and humid zones (local); Eastern and southern hillsides (regional); Urban zone (local).
  Location   39º 42’ N - 031º 06’ W (Northern Limit: 39º 46’ N; Southern Limit: 39º 37’ N; Western
Limit: 031º 11’ W; Eastern Limit: 031º 01’ W)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   25,853
  Core area(s)   3,027.745
  Buffer zone(s)   22,749.638
  Transition area(s) when given   75.492
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   718 m
  Year designated   2007
  Administrative authorities   Direcção Regional do Ambiente (Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar; Governo da Região Autónoma dos Açores)

Last updated: 26/11/2007

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