The marine conservation technician at the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), Nuno Oliveira, describes the role of the service managed by the FCT's FCCN Unit, the Videocast, in the "Cagarras nas Berlengas | Natureza na Web" project - an initiative that seeks to "promote environmental education and awareness" through live, uninterrupted broadcasts from a nest of this bird species.


How did the possibility of using the Videocast service arise in the context of the "Cagarras nas Berlengas | Natureza na Web" project? And what can you tell us about this project?

The opportunity arose at the invitation of FCCN, in 2019, when the revitalization of the "Natureza na Web" program was being planned. Cagarras nas Berlengas | Natureza na Web" is part of a set of activities developed by SPEA to promote environmental education and awareness - one of the pillars of our mission. In our view, a well-informed citizen will be more willing to understand the importance of preserving our natural values. In our case, we focus mainly on birds and their habitats.

What are the main benefits that this initiative offers to the general public?
The main goal of this initiative is to bring to people's homes a reality that, previously, would not be accessible to the common citizen: life inside a seabird's nest. In this case, the shearwaters. Thus, with a minimum of disturbance, people can visit the nest and follow the growth of the offspring or the feeding by the adults. Seabirds, despite being one of the most threatened groups of birds globally, also remains the least known.

"The Videocast is a tool that is here to stay at SPEA and has enormous potential that we intend to continue to explore"

What characteristics of the Videocast proved ideal for integration into the project? And how do you evaluate the experience so far?
Including "Cagarras nas Berlengas" in a broader initiative and in partnership with other entities ends up increasing the dissemination potential of our little nest. On the other hand, the maintenance costs of this system, although low, are a significant burden for a non-profit organization with no funding of its own, as is the case of SPEA. In this sense, the support of FCCN was crucial for the maintenance of the project, in the long term, by allowing to reduce the costs associated with the webstreaming service. Thus, the access to the images on the web by a virtually unlimited number of users is guaranteed. The support of FCCN's technicians has also been total and has allowed us to take this boat to a good port.


Are there other similar projects being planned?
The success of "Cagarras nas Berlengas" and the strong acceptance by the public, led us to adopt this type of tools in other projects. We are currently preparing the installation of two similar systems as part of a recent project we are developing in the Ria Formosa Natural Park - Life Barrier Islands. One of the cameras will be broadcasting the activity on a colony of Audouin's gulls, while the other will be on a colony of chilipeds. We expect to have these cameras operational in early spring next year.

Are there any other SPEA initiatives you would like to promote?

I take this opportunity to disclose two initiatives in which SPEA participates and for which we need everyone's support. The first is an initiative led by BirdLife International (of which SPEA is a partner) that calls for the United Nations to declare a healthy natural environment as a fundamental human right, through a petition available at: The second comes in the wake of the project "Life Berlengas" that, after having finished successfully, was selected as one of the 8 finalist projects of the European Natura 2000 Award. Voting is open and can be carried out here:


How do you foresee the evolution of SPEA's relationship with Videocast?

The Videocast is a tool that is here to stay at SPEA and that has an enormous potential that we intend to continue to explore. In this sense, the Videocast and the FCCN Unit represent an essential support that we hope to maintain. We think that the potential of these systems goes far beyond dissemination. In the future, they may be a tool to be used in remote monitoring systems, for places of difficult access for example. For those who work essentially at sea or surrounded by it, as in the case of small islands and islets, videocast systems may come to revolutionize our way of studying, monitoring and protecting their natural values.

And how do you assess the possibility of integrating other FCCN services?

There are other FCCN services that would be very interesting to explore, in order to maximize the dissemination of SPEA's mission. I remember, for example, the FCCN studios I visited last year - a spectacular piece of equipment to be used in the documentaries we have planned in so many of our projects and/or initiatives. On the other hand, considering the constraints resulting from the new coronavirus pandemic, FCCN's remote meeting services will also be an interesting possibility to explore.

Other related articles