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Ramiros-Palmerinhas Coastal Area

The Ramiros–Palmeirinhas Coastal Area is located south of Luanda in northern Angola. It includes two estuaries, several small coastal islands, mangroves, and sandy beaches. The vegetation in the area is dominated by slow-growing saltmarsh species, and other flora and fauna that inhabit intertidal flats are present. The area is an Important Bird Area for aquatic birds, a breeding site for threatened sea turtles (including Critically Endangered leatherbacks), and a nursery area for crabs. However, the mangroves, associated habitat, and some species (e.g., manatees and turtles) are sensitive to anthropogenic pressures because they are slow to grow and thus slow to recovery from disturbance, with implications for ecosystem functions once impacted.

EBSA Description: Ramiros-Palmerinhas Coastal Area

General Information

Summary

The Ramiros–Palmeirinhas coastal area is located south of Luanda city, Angola. This area includes two estuaries, small coastal islands, mangroves and sandy beaches. The vegetation in the area is dominated by low-growing saltmarsh species and other flora and fauna that inhabit intertidal flats. The area is an Important Bird Area for aquatic birds, especially migratory species, an important breeding site for threatened marine turtles and a nursery area for crabs, with a diversity of other species. It therefore scored highly in terms of “Special importance for life-history stages of species” and “Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats”. However, the mangroves and associated habitat, and some species (such as nesting turtles), are sensitive to anthropogenic pressures (e.g. traffic, pollution, exploitation, development and associated fragmentation) with implications for their ecosystem functions (refuge, breeding and foraging areas, etc). Given that the area is important for species (including turtles, the manatee, mangroves) that grow and reproduce slowly and are therefore slow to recover from population declines/deforestation, it also scored highly in terms of “Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery”.

 

MARISMA updates

 The site description still needs to be updated (after revisions to the boundaries); changes to the delineation are being discussed. 

 

Introduction of the area

The “Ramiros–Palmeirinhas coastal area” is located to the south of Luanda city, in the province of Luanda. The site includes two estuaries with mangroves, low-growing saltmarsh species, intertidal flats and small coastal estuaries. It is an important site for bird aggregations and breeding turtles, in addition to the other ecosystem functions performed by mangroves and associated habitat.

Description of location

The area is located to the south of Luanda City, Angola. The area excludes the Mussuolo Peninsula but includes the lagoon and Cazanga Island, as well as the coastal area southward to the Kwanza River.

 

Area details

Feature description of the area

The vegetation in the area is dominated by mangroves (Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa and Avicenna germinans), with low-growing saltmarsh species (Sesuvium portulacastrum, S. mesembritemoides and Salicornia sp.) and intertidal flats. The site is important for aquatic birds, with 61 congregatory waterbird species recorded, some of which occur in numbers which are at least nationally significant (BirdLife International 2005). These include significant numbers of resident waterbirds and as well as waders from the Palearctic while migrating south in the austral spring and returning in the late summer, for which the lagoon and intertidal flats are important foraging areas (Dean 2001). The threatened Cape gannet Morus capensis and Damara tern Sterna balaenarum are important non-breeding visitors to the inshore area (BirdLife International 2013). The intertidal flats are an important nursery ground for crabs. Marine turtles, including the green Chelonia mydas (endangered), leatherback Dermochelys cariacea (critically endangered) and olive ridley Lepidochelys olivacea occur in the area.

Weir et al. (2007) surveyed the area and found that leatherback and olive ridley turtles were nesting on the beaches in the vicinity of the mangroves, with the nest density of the latter as high as 32 per km at Palmeirinhas.

In 2006, a multidisciplinary survey of the estuaries of Angola, including the Kwanza River estuary at the southern extent of the proposed area, was conducted (da Silva Neto 2007). The project included studies of biodiversity (birds, fish, invertebrates, vegetation) and hydrological processes.

Feature conditions and future outlook of the proposed area

The Mussulo area is a confirmed Important Bird Area (BirdLife International 2013). The mangrove ecosystem of the area is not represented in mangrove communities elsewhere on the Angolan coast, and their botanical interest alone has been used to justify its conservation (Huntley 1974, UNEP 2007). The mangroves are threatened by the human occupation of coastal areas (BirdLife International 2005) and associated activities, which lead to damage, fragmentation and loss, with implications for their function as refuge, breeding or foraging areas for diverse species, including turtles, birds, fish and crustaceans. Other threats, in particular for the estuaries, include invasive alien plants, coastal erosion and artisanal fishing using set-nets and gill nets (da Silva Neto et al. 2007).

 

Assessment of the area against CBD EBSA criteria

 Uniqueness or rarity

 

Rank: Medium

The mangrove ecosystem of the area, which consists of Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa and Avicenna germinans is not represented in mangrove communities elsewhere on the Angolan coast, and their botanical interest alone has been used to justify its conservation (UNEP 2007).

 Special importance for life-history stages of species

 

Rank: High

The Islands of Migratory Birds (Ilheu dos Passaros) is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area – it is a vital feeding site for large numbers of migrating waterbirds (Birdlife International 2005, 2013). The beaches are used for breeding by critically endangered leatherback turtles as well as vulnerable olive ridley turtles, which have been found to have high nesting densities at Palmeirinhas by Weir et al. (2007). The area is reported to be an important nursery ground for crabs (Simao pers.comm.). 

 Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats

 

Rank: High

The beaches are used for breeding by critically endangered leatherback turtles as well as vulnerable olive ridley turtles which have high nesting densities at Palmeirinhas (Weir et al. 2007). Threatened bird species Cape gannet Morus capensis and Damara tern Sterna balaenarum are important non-breeding visitors to the inshore area (Birdlife 2005, 2013). The West African manatee Trichechus senegalensis (IUCN Vulnerable) is also reported from this area (da Silva Neto et al. 2007); estuarine habitat is considered important for this threatened species (Powell and Kouadio 2008).

 Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery

 

Rank:  Medium

The area is key for several relatively long-lived species that reproduce slowly and recover slowly from population declines, such as turtles and manatees (Sarti Martinez 2000, Powell and Kouadio 2008), not to mention mangroves. The mangroves, estuaries and associated low-growing saltmarsh and flat intertidal habitat are all sensitive to anthropogenic pressures such as traffic, pollution, deforestation, development and associated fragmentation, with implications for their function as refugia, breeding or foraging areas. Restoration of degraded mangroves is an extremely complex, costly, long-term process.

 Biological productivity

 

Rank: Medium

Mangroves are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems (FAO 1994) and provide the highly productive coastal lagoons and tidal estuaries with which they are interlinked with essential organic nutrients; they are also critical breeding grounds and nurseries for larval and juvenile stages of important fisheries species (Shumway 1999).

 

 Biological diversity

 

Rank: Medium

The area contains different habitat types (estuary, lagoon, mangroves, saltmarsh, flat intertidal habitat, beaches and inshore area), with associated diversity of species. At least 61 congregatory waterbird species use this area as well as non-breeding seabirds (BirdLife International 2005, 2013), several breeding sea turtle species (Weir et al. 2007), aquatic mammals such as the manatee (da Silva Neto et al. 2007), crabs, shrimps, sea snails and fish. Field research has confirmed high diversity in this area although this is still being included in reports.

 

 Naturalness

 

Rank: Medium

Much of the area is currently relatively pristine but coastal development (BirdLife International 2005) and vehicles in the coastal zone are having some impact in the area. The area is also affected by effluent, e.g. from hospitality industry, bungalows, etc.

 

References

BirdLife International 2013. Marine e-Atlas: Delivering site networks for seabird conservation. Confirmed IBA site ‘Mussulo ’. Available online: http://54.247.127.44/marineIBAs/default.html Accessed 11 April 2013

BirdLife International. 2005 BirdLife’s online World Bird Database: the site for bird conservation. Version 2. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. Available at http://www.birdlife.org. Accessed 11 April 2013

Dean, W. R. J. 2001. Angola. Pp. 71 – 91 in L. D. C. Fishpool and M. I. Evans, eds. Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge. UK: Pices Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 11).

da Silva Neto, D., Boyd, A., Holtzhausen, H.,van Niekerk, L., Lamberth, S., Paterson, J., Bazika, B., Camarada, T., Pinto, M., Afonso, E., Cangajo, E., Estevão, V., Bornman, T.,Wooldridge, T., Deyzel, S., Buco, A., Jónico, V., Monteiro, F., Velasco, L., Fernandes, B. 2007. Baseline surveying of species and biodiversity in estuarine habitats. Final Integrated Report on BCLME Region. BCLME Project BEHP/BAC/03/04

FAO. 1994. Mangrove forest management guidelines (English) In: Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Forestry Paper, no. 117 / FAO, Rome (Italy). Forest Resources Division, 339 p. http://archive.org/stream/mangroveforestma034845mbp/mangroveforestma034845mbp_djvu.txt (accessed 17 April 2013)

Huntley, B.J. 1974. Outlines of wildlife conservation in Angola. Journal of the Southern African Wildlife Management Association 4: 157–166

Powell, J. & Kouadio, A. 2008. Trichechus senegalensis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 11 April 2013.

Sarti Martinez, A.L. (Marine Turtle Specialist Group) 2000. Dermochelys coriacea. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 15 April 2013.

Shumway, C.A. 1999. Forgotten Waters: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems in Africa.Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNACF449.pdf (accessed 17 April 2013).

UNEP. 2007. Mangroves of Western and Central Africa. UNEP-Regional Seas Programme/UNEPWCMC. http://www.unep-wcmc.org/resources/publications/UNEP_WCMC_bio_series/26.htm. (Accessed 11 April 2013)

Weir CR, Ron T, Morais M, Duarte ADC. 2007. Nesting and at-sea distribution of marine turtles in Angola, West Africa, 2000–2006: occurrence, threats and conservation implications. Oryx 41: 224-231

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EBSA criteria met at a high (red), medium (orange) or low (yellow) rank. 

RamirosPalmerinhas 

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