Lifelong Learning Programme

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Geographical Areas

Homepage > Learning Science through Nature > Geographical Areas


Montesinho Natural Park
Geography, Math, Chemistry, Biology
The Montesinho Natural Park (PNM) is a protected area of 74229 ha, located in the municipalities of Vinhais and Bragança, in the northeast Portugal. This mountainous region, named “Terra Fria” (cold land), is characterized by a succession of rounded elevations and valleys deeply embedded, with altitudes ranging between 438m (River Mente) and 1481m. A low annual temperature T<12.5oC and annual precipitation over 800 mm are the most common climatic conditions. Its geology is composed by schist, granite, mafic and ultramafic rocks and unconsolidated sedimentary materials. The headwaters of two major tributaries (Tua and Sabor rivers) of Douro River define the deep valleys in PNM. The major natural values are based on a high diversity of plants and animals. In fact, the main vegetation is composed by oaks (Quercus pyrenaica, Quercus rotundifolia) and chestnut trees (Castanea sativa) and riparian zones (Alnus glutinosa, Salix spp.). Several other species of plants, like shrubs (Erica spp., Cistus ladanifer, Cytisus spp., Lavandula stoechas) and endemic and rare species, exclusive of ultramafic rocks (Armeria eriophylla, Anthyllis sampaiana, Santolina semidentata) can be found. The PNM is among the most important mountain areas for wildlife at a national and European level, since there are several threatened species, most of which are endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Several mammals,l ike the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus), the deer (Cervus elaphus), the water-mole(Galemys pyrenaicus), the otter (Lutra lutra), and bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), and an important number (~160) of bird species (Aquila chysaetos, Ciconianigra, Circus cyaneus, Monticola saxatilis) can be found in the PNM. There are also species of reptiles (Vipera latastei, Mauremys leprosa), amphibians (Triturus marmoratus), fish (Achondrostoma arcasii, Cobitis calderoni,Squalius alburnoides) and terrestrial (rare and unique butterflies like Lycaena virgaureae, Brenthis daphne) and water invertebrates (freshwater pearlmussel Margaritifera margaritifera) that highlight the importance of this protected area for conservation.


Biodiversity in Tuela river Explanation about biodiversity in Tuela river given by Prof. Amilcar Teixeira.
Electric fishing Using electric fishing for the study of trout in the river Tuela.
Snorkeling Snorkeling activity to explore the Tuela river ecosystem.
Birds in Montesinho Natural Park In this photograph we see a bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), a species found in mixed, open forests and forest edges. Little abundant in Portugal, where it manifests some preference for fresh woods and riparian galleries. It’s a type of bird that appears in small family groups, a bit shy, but very docile and calm. Easy to handle when captured. The males are quite showy, with a strong orange breast. It feeds on seeds and plant buds and shoots.
Monitoring the bird population in Montesinho park The captured birds are evaluated, and some biometric parameters, such as species, sex, age, wing length, weight and fat are registered (photo). These parameters allow monitoring the species each time they are recaptured, for example from the perspective of migratory movements, life expectancy or the structure of bird populations. This activity may also serve to monitor other parameters such as possible zoonoses.
Temperature and pH sensors Analysing Tuela river water with temperature and pH sensors
The Monastery of Castro de Avelãs The Monastery of Castro de Avelãs is a national monument and is considered one of the most important monuments of Romanesque architecture in Portugal. One of its characteristics is the use of perfect round arc, i.e., the domes and upper parts of the windows are semicircles. This is the motivation for math class…
Schematic drawing of the monastery window Schematic drawing of the monastery window. Calculations and schemes done by the students.
Capture of birds This photograph illustrates a technique to catch birds for scientific studies. Birds are captured using invisible nets or mist nets. The capture should occur in a quiet environment and birds should not remain trapped in the net for long. Therefore, the nets are observed every 30 min. After capture, the birds are ringed and then released into the wild. The whole process of removal of the birds from nets and their handling implies technical skills and a minimum risk for birds.
The Fervença river The hydrographic basin of the Fervença River consists of an approximate area of 203 km2, located in Northeast Portugal and is comprised between 1300 m in Serra da Nogueira and 480 m in the mouth of the river with SE orientation. In the area of this basin one can distinguish the rural zone, constituted essentially by agricultural regions, and an urban zone that is the city of Bragança. The visit took place in the area of the river that bathes the small village of Castro de Avelãs.