Protected Landscape Area
With 2173 hectares, this area is located at the west end of São Miguel, with an interesting landscape diversity, reflecting the combination of natural values with human activities and integrates a geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark.
The area is dominated by the large Sete Cidades Volcano, which presents a huge collapse caldera, with an average diameter of 5.3 kilometres, a maximum depth of about 630 metres and was probably formed around 36 thousand years ago. After the formation of the caldera, occurred inside about 15 explosive eruptions. The last of these eruptions took place around the year 1439, in Caldeira Seca.
At the southeast of the volcano caldera, it was formed alignments of volcanic cones, known as Serra Devassa. In this volcanic massif is located the largest number of lakes and lagoons of São Miguel.
The largest lagoon in the Azores, the Lagoa das Sete Cidades, consists of two distinct bodies of water, the Lagoa Azul and the Lagoa Verde. It is classified by the “Plano de Ordenamento da Bacia Hidrográfica da Lagoa das Sete Cidades” (Sete Cidades Lake Land Development and Watershed Plan) (POBHLSC), which aims to improve the quality of water and the preservation of natural resources. Inside the caldera, there is still the lagoons of Santiago and Rasa.
In the area of Serra Devassa, there are several smaller lagoons. The Lagoa das Éguas Norte, the highest elevation of the island, the Lagoa das Éguas Sul and the Lagoa Rasa that is located southeast of Éguas lagoons. On the south of this, are the lagoons of the Caldeirão Grande and of the Caldeirão Pequeno Norte e Sul. In Pico das Empadadas is located the Lagoas das Empadadas and by the Pico do Carvão is located the Lagoa do Carvão.
Regarding the flora stands out the presence of endemic herbaceous as Lactuca watsoniana, Angelica lignescens, Rumex azoricus and Euphorbia stygiana stygiana.
Apart from the many viewpoints, throughout this zone are the following walking trails: Vista do Rei - Sete Cidades (PR03SMI), Mata do Canário - Sete Cidades (PR04SMI) and Serra Devassa (PRC05SMI).
It is an important passage area for migratory birds such as the Ardea cinerea and Fulica atra. Of resident birds, there are the endemic subspecies Regulus Regulus azoricus and Buteo buteo rothschildi.
In the waters of the lagoons there are several introduced species such as Cyprinus carpio, Esox Lucius and Procambarus clarkii.
The high local water richness, the presence of protected flora and fauna and priority habitats led to the classification of this protected area as a Ramsar Site under the Convention on Wetlands and was also integrated into the CORINE Biotope environmental project.