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Morro Alto e Pico da Sé

Nature Reserve

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Located on the Planalto Central, this Nature Reserve occupies 1572.93 hectares and integrates the Morro Alto, the highest point of the island with 914 metres of altitude.

This area has unique geomorphology, marked by the presence of the Caldeira Branca (a tuff-ring of smooth slopes) and the explosion craters of maar type of the Caldeira Negra, the Caldeira Comprida and the Caldeira Seca that, with the exception of the latter, have a lagoon in the bottom. The origin of these four volcanic depressions (calderas) is associated with hydromagmatic eruptions, where the ascending magma contacts with water, originating a significant explosive activity.

Caldeira Negra, with rocky and steep slopes, is occupied by the Lagoa Negra (or Lagoa Funda), which is the deepest lagoon of the Azores with a maximum depth of 113 metres.

Pico da Sé is a trachytic dome placed between the valleys of Ribeira da Badanela and Ribeira da Fazenda de Santa Cruz (streams), two important watercourses, which erosion uncovered several volcanic vents and basaltic and trachytic dykes, through reliefs that are more protuberant than the adjacent areas.

Regarding vegetation, stand out the species of Frangula azorica, Laurus azorica, Ilex azorica, Vaccinium cylindraceum, Viburnum treleasei and Euphorbia stygiana stygiana. Also, stand out the Sphagnum sp. peatbogs, forested mainly by Juniperus brevifolia, which are the biggest forest of Juniperus brevifolia of the Azores.

It is also an important zone for many migratory birds as the Egretta garzetta and it is the place that has the highest concentration of Sterna hirundo on the island’s interior.

This area is crossed by the Miradouro das Lagoas - Poço do Bacalhau (PR03FLO) walking trail.

This area includes the Central – Morro Alto Special Area of ​​Conservation (SAC) within the Natura 2000 network, geosites of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark and one Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention.

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