– Natural Heritage as an added value in rural areas
The municipality of Boticas presents, together with a vast cultural, material and immaterial heritage, a rich and diverse natural heritage, which includes, among others, the values of flora and fauna. In the particular case of the fauna it is possible to observe, in this county, a panoply of species of vertebrates and invertebrates, great part with conservationist importance. This richness is also provided by the various biotopes that can be found here, among others, the oaks, the riparian woods, the watercourses, the bushes and the meadows.
The mammals include the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) and the buck (Capreolus capreolus), emblematic animals present in this county. The wild boar (Sus scrofa), the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the hare (Lepus granatensis), species with high hunting importance, have an expressive presence. Other species, such as the water mole (Galemys pyrenaicus) and the otter (Lutra lutra), are also prominent. Several species of bats, most common and abundant, such as the pygmy bat (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), less known, such as the bat-tailed (Tadarida teniotis) can be observed.
Contemplating now the group of birds, perhaps the most sought after in the tourist activities linked to the observation of fauna, it is worth mentioning two peculiarities that are related to this class:
– 1. In addition to the resident species, which can be observed in the region during the whole annual cycle, there are species that can only be observed or in the spring/ summer period – called summer nesting birds, such as the turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), – or in the fall/ winter period – designated as wintering, such as the prairie petrel (Anthus pratensis). There are also species which, during migration, can be registered in the area only as migratory passers, not remaining in the area for an extended period.
– 2. The different biotopes present in the county potentiate a greater diversity of species – this is because there are species more linked, due to their specificities, to a certain habitat. The search for a particular species should always take into account its preferential habitat, in order to increase the likelihood of an observation! Trying to observe a marked forest species on a plateau will certainly reduce our chance of getting a record!
When arranging field trips directed to birds, the eagle-sparrow (Circus pygargus), the hawk-bird (Pernis apivorus), the common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis), the noitibó of Europe (Caprimulgus europaeus), the red-back bite (Lanius collurio), the dom-fafe (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) and the eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), stands out, both for its conservation status and for the restricted distribution area. Some of the riverine and aquatic species that can be observed in the humid areas of Boticas are: the waterbird (Cinclus cinclus), the guardian (Alcedo atthis), the heron (Ardea cinerea), the loon (Tachybaptus ruficollis) and the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).
The herpetofauna is very rich in this county, and here you can find several species of reptiles and amphibians! Reptiles should be sought mostly in more open and exposed areas, although some species have other preferences. Amphibians, on the other hand, look for darker and humid places, not only to reproduce but also to hydrate their bare skin.
Some of the species that are noteworthy because of their rarity and/ or because they are Iberian endemisms (that is, species occurring only in Portugal and Spain) are, among the amphibians, the Salamandra-lusitanica (Chioglossa lusitanica) (Lissotriton boscai), the Iberian frog (Rana iberica), the spotted-toothed frog (Discoglossus galganoi) and, in relation to reptiles, the water lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) and Bocage gecko (Podarcis bocagei). In reptiles, it is also worth mentioning the presence of the carapace-striated tortoise (Emys orbicularis), a threatened species that has the largest and most significant population in the northern region of our country in the TVAP (The Terva Valley Archaeological Park).
In Boticas there are a large number of water courses. The extensive hydrographic network of this Municipality is very interesting in the conservation of Nature and there are several species linked to it, as we have been referring throughout the text. Among the fish species present, it is obligatory to mention the river trout (Salmo trutta) – this species, characteristic of more mountainous sections of rivers and streams, appreciates current and well oxygenated waters and is highly valued at the gastronomic level by the locals and visitors.
Of the invertebrates, a group lesser known and studied, a butterfly, Euphydryas aurinia (Euphydryas aurinia), and a beetle, the blond cow or the goat (Lucanus cervus) are mentioned for their conservation importance. Due to its importance in ecological processes, as well as its economic value, it is also worth mentioning the subspecies Apis mellifera iberiensis, the Iberian bee, one of the unequivocal responsible for the quality of Barroso honey!
In Boticas can be observed, or found signs of presence, species of fauna typical of the northern mountain ranges, including some rare species and high conservation status.
Sustainable rural development – economically, socially and environmentally – is increasingly critical to the viability and development of the various Portuguese regions, since 81% of the total area of mainland Portugal is considered rural, and 33% Of the population of about 10 million live in rural areas.
Rural areas and natural areas, although with unique and very important characteristics for society, are often little valued at economic level. The growing need for resource use and/ or exploitation of values, in a rational manner and in accordance with biodiversity conservation, should allow for a paradigm shift to take place. Development and progress should not be taken away from the equation, but on the contrary, viewed in a different way than usual.
Tourism directed towards the enjoyment of the observation of these species, many of which are of significant economic importance, and carried out in a sustainable way, concomitant with respect for local populations and natural values, could constitute an “ally” in the development of this area!