Actions and means involved

LIFE ARCOS  is a LIFE Nature Project aimed to carry out different actions in order to improve the coservation status of 10 dune systems located in 10 protected sites included in the Nature 2000 in the Principality of Asturias, the Cantabrian Region and the Basque Country.

The Life ARCOS project is aligned with and focused on the objetives and conservation priorities proposed in the “Priority Action Frame for the Natura 2000 in Spain”. This framework promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental affairs is aimed to guarantee the best conservation status for these habitats. Four main objectives have been considered by the LIFE ARCOS project.



Contribute to the restoration, improvement and maintenance of the habitat types and species of Community interest presented in coastal sand dunes.


This objective will be mainly reached with the implentation of the conservation actions and indirectly with results from some preparatory actions. Public bodies DGMCNCANT, DFG-GFA and DGSCM have the necessary human resources, material, equipment and expertise to carry out these actions. DGMCNCANT, DFG-GFA are also responsive for the management of habitats and species included in the Nature 2000 network at regional and local level and this fact will facilitate obtaining the necessary permits. DGSCM will also provide most of the structural plants necessary for habitat conservation actions. This plants will be produced in the nursery of their own located in the Somo beach (Laredo, Cantabria). The ‘Coastal Dune Restoration Handbook’ (Spanish and English versions) recently published by DGSCM and the ‘Inventory of dune systems in Spain’ (not published) will guide the project restoration actions.


Contribute with the project’s results to the improve the conservation plans in order to keep or restore a good status of conservation for the habitats and species of interest associated to coastal dune ecosystems in the Atlantic Biogeographic Region (according to the 2nd and 3rd points of the General Priorities to the entire Natura 200 network in Spain). The Action Plans should be updated / revised every six-years.


Will be reached with results of actions A.2, A.3, A.4, D.1 and D.2. UNIOVI and ARANZADI by mean of their human resources in the Gene Banks of the Atlantic Botanic Garden (Gijón, Asturias) and Iturraran Botanic Garden (Gipuzkoa) and personnel assigned to the Institute for Natural Resources and Territory Management (INDUROT), dependant of the University of Oviedo, will implement the previous mentioned actions. Monitoring actions will reuse some indicators proposed in ‘Preliminary ecological basis for the conservation of habitat types of Community interest in Spain’ to evaluate the conservation status of dune systems.


Contribute to the prevention, control and eradication exotic invasive species (16th point of the F.2 section in the MAC).


Will be enterely reached with action C.2. ECORAL will conduct this conservation action in 6 of 10 of the proposed areas. Whenever possible, disadvantaged social groups or people at risk of social exclusion will be hired to carry out non technical works related to this action. In this sense previous experiences carried out by DGMNCANT will be considered. In a transversal way this action is intended to have enough social impact, contributing to Objetive D.


Promote the social participation in the conservation and restoration programs of habitats included in SCIs under the Natura 2000 network, improving the gobernace policies.


Mainly linked to E actions, will always be present on every action carried out in the project. Web pages, social media, press, radio and inner activities of all beneficiaries will be used to obtain the greatest possible social impact. On the International days for the environment and biological diversity specifc awareness actions will be held, at least, in the previous mentioned Botanic Gardens and in the Laredo’s nursery for dune plants production.


Threats and conservation problems of dune ecosystems are common to the 10 targeted sites. Beyond the lack of information about the status of conservation of the habitats and species in the Atlantic Biorregion of Spain, there have been mentioned many concrete threats, pressures and activities that put into risk the presence of some of the habitats and characteristic species of the beach-dune system.

These problems can be sumarized in the following two points:

  • INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES: Mild temperatures that are given on the coast joined to the sandy soils where pioneer species find a suitable site for their seeds to geminate are the main factors responsible for the presence of a great number of invasive alien species in the dune habitats.
  • HUMAN DISTURBANCES: Lbeach-dune systems are very sensitive to human pressure. The access to beaches are interrupted by natural dunes and hence the non controlled foot pathways caused by tourists will result in a higher trampling effect on the natural vegetation. The practice of some sports and other leisure and recreational activities that are directly carried out on the sand dunes also contribute to the reduction of dune stability by modifying its vegetation cover. On small dunes the effect of human intrusions is even more significant and contribute to drawing scenarios where dune restorations became more difficult.

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