Mistério da Prainha
Mistério da Prainha belongs to the São Roque – Piedade Volcanic Complex and has about 716 hectares.
It had its origin in a volcanic eruption that started on September 1562 and ended in 1564, the longest historical eruption of the Azores. It is an area rich not only by the diversity of geological formations here existent but also by the flora species endemic of the Azores and the Macaronesia. It also houses several fauna species protected by the Habitats and Birds Directive of the European Union.
In this Nature Reserve, it is possible to find hornitos (small spatter cones), volcanic scoria cones, caves and several pahoehoe lava fields, on which developed ground cover vegetation with a high concentration of endemic plants: Arceuthobium azoricum and Daboecia azorica.
From these ground cover plants stands out the formations dominated by Erica azorica and Juniperus brevifolia, called endemic Macaronesian heaths, and the formations dominated by Deschampsia foliosa, Holcus rigidus and Festuca francoi, called Macaronesian mesophile grasslands.
It is possible to observe several bird species such as the Fringilla coelebs moreletti and the Buteo buteo rothschildi, protected by the Birds Directive, and also the birds Turdus merula azorensis, Regulus regulus inermis and Columba palumbus azorica. Also exist the species Nyctalus azoreum, protected by the Habitats Directive, and several arthropod endemic species.
This nature reserve is included in the Montanha, Prainha and Caveiro Special Area ofConservation (SAC) and Zona Central do Pico Special Protection Area (SPA) within the Natura 2000 network, in the Zona Central do Pico Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) of the BirdLife International organization, and in the Planalto da Achada priority geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark.