Ria Formosa (Faro lagoon)

Year of compilation: 2002

Site description (baseline)
An extensive lagoon system with large areas of sandflats, mudflats and saltmarshes, located on the south coast of Portugal. The lagoons are protected from the open sea by a long, thin, discontinuous belt of sand-dunes.

Key biodiversity
The site is important for numerous waterbirds, especially for beach-nesting Charadrius alexandrinus and Sterna albifrons and for wintering waders and duck, holding 20,000 or more wintering waterbirds on a regular basis. The reedbeds of the site are important for several nesting waterbird species, as well as for large numbers of migrating passerines during both autumn and spring migration.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There is a management plan (now at revision) for Natural Park, bur there is not any for Natura 2000 site. Tourists cause disturbance to birds, which can be moderately high locally, especially for beach-nesting species. The intensification of farming in the vicinity is increasing the flow into the lagoon of pollutants (herbicides, pesticides and nutrients), and is also using excessive amounts of groundwater, thus disturbing the water balance at the site. The bivalves and polychaete worms of the intertidal flats are very intensively exploited by man, thus reducing the food supply for some waterbird species. Natural erosion is an additional threat. Several thousand people live around the IBA, and numbers increase significantly during the summer months due to the influx of tourists.Water quality is affected by sewer emptying, and garbage and rubbish are commonly found along the area.

Protected areas
National Partial International High14,373 ha of IBA covered by Natural Park (Ria Formosa, 14,373 ha). 23,296 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Ria Formosa, 23,296 ha). 16,000 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Ria Formosa, 16,000 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ria Formosa (Faro lagoon). Downloaded from on 10/06/2023.