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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Graciosa is the most northerly of the Central Group of islands in the Azores Archipelago and, with an area of only 60.7 km2 and 38.9 km of coastline, it constitutes the second smallest island in the region (after Corvo). Graciosa is also the flattest of the islands, with its highest point reaching 405 m. With a maximum length of 12.6 km and maximum width of 7.0 km, the island extends along a NW-SE orientation and is distanced by 56.8 km from Ponta da Serreta, on the Island of Terceira and 36.5 km from Fajã do João Dias, on the Island of São Jorge.

Presently, Graciosa has approximately 4,800 inhabitants (estimation for 2004 was 4,777 inhabitants), distributed throughout the municipality of Santa Cruz da Graciosa’s 4 parishes: Guadalupe, Luz, Praia and Santa Cruz. Graciosa’s population continues to be strongly linked to the primary sector as a principal source of income and as a secondary activity.
The proposed Biosphere Reserve displays the following zonation:
• Core Areas: 4 non-contiguous Core Areas are defined (Ponta Branca, Ilhéu de Baixo Islets–Restinga, Caldeira and Vila Islet). These constitute sites classified under the European Union’s Natura 2000 Network, marine resource special protection areas and the Caldeira Natural Regional Monument of Graciosa Island.
• Buffer Zone: The Buffer Zones that surround the Core Areas “Ilhéu de Baixo Islets–Restinga” and “Caldeira” unite along a NW-SE axis, at the exterior SE flank of the “Caldeira” cone. The remaining two zones surround the Core Areas “Ponta Branca” and “Vila Islet”. The Buffer Zones consist of public and private lands or marine areas, with land/sea-use practices according to several different territory and activity planning schemes, on a national, regional and local level.
• Transition Area: The Transition Area encompasses both terrestrial and marine zones and surrounds the entire Core and Buffer Zones. The Transition Area includes urban and urbanizable areas, in public and private lands, with land/sea-use practices in accordance to several territorial and activity planning measures.
  Major ecosystem type   Average altitudes, coastal cliffs, caves and volcanic pits, shallow coastal areas.
  Major habitats & land cover types   Coastal islets (Ilhéu de Baixo Islets, Praia Islet and Baleia Islet); Coastal zones (regional); Marine zones (regional); Coastal cliffs (local); Graciosa Island Caldeira (local); Urban zone (local).
  Location   39º 03’ N - 028º 00’ W (Northern Limit: 39º 06’ N; Southern Limit: 38º 59’ N; Western
Limit: 028º 05’ W; Eastern Limit: 027º 55’ W)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   12,172
  Core area(s)   474
  Buffer zone(s)   1,023
  Transition area(s) when given   10,674.5
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   405m
  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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