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Corvo Island Biosphere Reserve, Portugal

Corvo is the smallest of the Azorean islands, located in the extreme northwest of the Archipelago. The  Biosphere Reserve encompasses the entire emerged land area of the island and a surrounding marine zone, covering a total area of 25,853 hectares and including landscapes and biological values of great regional, national and international importance.

When the Azores Islands were discovered they were uninhabited and no indigenous population is known to have existed. The current population is the product of several centuries of settlers and the miscellany of various ethnic groups.

Designation date: 2007


Regional network:  EuroMAB and IberoMAB

Ecosystem-based network: World Network of Island and Coastal
Biosphere Reserves




    Surface : 25,852.87 ha 

    • Core area(s): 3,027.74 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 22,749.63 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 75.49 ha

    Location: 39°42'0.000"N; 31°6'0.000"W

    Administrative Authorities

    Parque Natural da Ilha do Corvo /Direção Regional do Ambiente
    Rua Consul Dabney - Colónia Alemã Apartado 140 9900-014

    Tel.: +351 292 207 300 

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The rich mosaic of ecological systems of significant interest in Corvo Island Biosphere Reserve is associated with high biological diversity. The Reserve is home to a wide range of species of European and regional relevance. With regard to its flora, Corvo Island has 93 registered endemism’s, featuring the largest proportion of endemism’s in the archipelago. Among the botanical species recorded on this island are 19 species listed in Annex II of the European Union Habitats Directive, 3 of which are priority, and 2 species listed in Annex IV of the same Directive. There are also 8 bryophyte species listed on the European Red List of Bryophytes. One of them, Echinodium renauldii, is currently considered one of the most threatened bryophytes in the world. It is relevant to note that Corvo Island possesses the highest density of rare or endangered species, as well as endemic species, per km2 in the whole Autonomous Region of the Azores. 

    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Corvo Island features excellent conditions for promoting tourist activity of various types, not only due to its climatic conditions, but also due to its geography and natural heritage.

    On this island, the most common tourist practices are Birdwatching (an advantageous form of tourism given that it is practised by people with good environmental awareness and is most popular in autumn, boosting tourist activity outside the high season), nature tourism, ecotourism, beach tourism, adventure tourism and common interest tourism (including people who travel with a common interest between visitor and host - visiting friends and relatives - with relatives who have emigrated abroad and/or residents of continental Portugal as a prime example), although numbers remain relatively low.

    This is complemented by traditional activities, such as the confection of knitwear, among which the wool cap, locally called "Barreta", stands out. Also, in terms of handicraft, embroidery and lace are produced, as well as the manufacture of wooden utensils and objects, especially the emblematic "Locks of Corvo Island" which are part of the list of 100 products certified as "Handicrafts of the Azores".


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    Last updated: May 2019