Pico da Esperança e Planalto Central
Protected Area for the Management of Habitats or Species
Located on the central volcanic ridge of the island, this area occupies about 1087 hectares and includes the highest point of São Jorge, Pico da Esperança, with about 1053 metres.
In this volcanic ridge, about 54 kilometres long, it is possible to observe several volcano-tectonic alignments, with about 150 eruptive centres, mostly scoria cones, spatter cones and eruptive fissures. Among the several cones of this ridge that resulted from a fissural basaltic volcanism, stand out the Pico da Esperança (formed around 5500 years ago) and the Morro Pelado, which has the deepest volcanic pit of the Azores, with a depth of 140 metres.
This area, which includes several inland lagoons and peatbogs, is a place rich in biodiversity, where, amongst other endemics, occur rare species such as Chaerophyllum azoricum, Ammi trifoliatum, Tolpis azorica and Euphrasia grandiflora. It is also possible to observe the rarest orchid of Europe, Platanthera azorica.
Regarding fauna stand out the endemic species of arthropods such as Trechus jorgensis and the bird Gallinago gallinago.
It is possible to cross this area of the central volcanic ridge through the Pico do Pedro - Pico da Esperança - Fajã do Ouvidor walking trail (PR04SJO).
This area integrates a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) within the Natura 2000 network, is classified as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention and as a geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark.