“It is an honour to see the official recognition of my land, the island of Porto Santo, to be elevated to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve,” said Idalino Vasconcelos, Mayor of Porto Santo at the ceremony that signalled the integration of the island into the World Reserve Network.

In a joint statement, the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Environment and Climate Action announced that the application of the island of Porto Santo to this network was approved by the International Council for the Coordination of the Programme “Man and the Biosphere - (MAB)” of UNESCO.

For the Mayor of Porto Santo, “this worldwide recognition granted by UNESCO will open new doors and provide new opportunities and new challenges”, contributing to “a better Porto Santo”. “It is the recognition of the potential of this small territory, its special sandy beach and marine life are so unique and rare in the world, our sea, our natural and cultural heritage, our biodiversity, our geology and all aspects of our identity,” he said.

The president of this municipality, where about 5,000 people reside, took the opportunity to “praise the excellence of UNESCO’s work in the search for peace between nations, in the defence of human rights and in the conservation of the Earth and extolling the values of bio and geodiversity of our planet.”

“We look forward to showing the world our Porto Santo. Our beach bathed in clear waters [that is nine kilometres long]”, he emphasised, adding that the island also wants to promote its “stunning landscapes, locations and hills”.

Idalino Vasconcelos added that the people of Porto Santo want to “show the world their folklore, gastronomy, people and their history of resilience, struggle and achievements.

“We are aware of the importance of the role of each of us, and together we are working on the future of our land in harmony with the Biosphere,” he said. For Idalino Vasconcelos: “Today is a great day. It is the day when the island of Porto Santo welcomes this international recognition with open arms and continues to be stronger and safer on its journey towards sustainable development.” “Thank you all so much for this opportunity,” he concluded.

The Autonomous Region of Madeira has two representations in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Network, one in Santana, on the north coast and the island of Porto Santo, composed of more than 700 sites. It is also important to mention that the site of Porto Santo, which has an area of 27,310.54 hectares (ha) - comprises a marine area of 22,250 ha and a land area of 5,059.59 ha – which is now included in the international network of knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences. This international network is already made up of more than 700 reserves, which have implemented “actions that contribute to a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature in a wide range of contexts”.

The Portuguese Biosphere Reserves already registered in the World Network are Boquilobo (Corvo, Azores), Graciosa (Azores), Flores (Azores), Gerês Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve, Xurés (Portugal/ Spain), Berlengas (Peniche), Santana (Madeira) Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve Meseta Ibérica (Portugal/ Spain), Fajãs de S. Jorge (Azores), the Tagus/Tajo Internacional Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve (Portugal/Spain) (2016) and Castro Verde (Alentejo).