Tronqueira e Planalto dos Graminhais
Protected Area for the Management of Habitats or Species
With 5373 hectares, this protected area is located at the eastern end of the island and features a rugged morphology and eroded with ravines deeply implanted in the landscape and comprises mainly geological formations of the Povoação volcano and of the Nordeste Volcanic Complex, which include the oldest rocks of the island, with about four million years. In this protected area is evident the Planalto dos Graminhais, located between 900 and 960 metres of altitude, which develops along the northern edge of the Povoação volcano.
In terms of habitat, it highlights the presence of Laurel Forest in the area of Tronqueira and afforested peatlands in the area of Graminhais. Show up the Laurus azorica, the Prunus azorica, the Morella faya, the Viburnum treleasei and the Picconia azorica. Because it presents particular soil conditions, the forested peatland has a different floristic composition, with particular regard to the Festuca francoi, Holcus rigidus and Sphagnum spp. The forested component is represented by Erica azorica, Vaccinium cylindraceum and Juniperus brevifolia.
Regarding the fauna, stands out the presence of Pyrrhula murina, an endemic passerine of São Miguel Island that saw its population reduced to about 100 couples on a distribution restricted to this area, due to the drastic reduction of Laurel Forest, the attribution in the past of awards for its capture and the injury that they caused in the orange production. Currently, due to the positive results of two LIFE projects intended to restore the natural habitat, its population is estimated at 800 couples.
At Pedreira place, one can visit the Interpretation Centre of Priolo and get to know the natural values of this protected area, namely of fauna and flora.
This zone is crossed by the walking trail (PRC07SMI) that gives access to Pico da Vara, where it is possible to have a panoramic view of this protected area.
This protected area includes the goals and boundaries defined by the Special Protection Area Pico da Vara / Ribeira do Guilherme and integrates a Site of Community Importance (SCI), both under the Natura 2000 network, and a geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark. This zone is classified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), by BirdLife International organization and forms an integral part of the CORINE Biotope project. Together with two other protected areas of Povoação and Nordeste councils, it was awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas by the EUROPARC Federation.