In this section you can find a list of terms and aspects, in alphabetical order, related to the Albufeira project. All of them are concepts related to the environment and the efficiency of natural resources.


  • COASTAL WATER: Coastal water means surface water on the landward side of a line, every point of which is at a distance of one nautical mile on the seaward side from the nearest point of the baseline from which the breadth of territorial waters is measured, extending where appropriate up to the outer limit of transitional waters. Source

  • TRANSITIONAL WATERS: Transitional waters are bodies of surface water in the vicinity of river mouths which are partly saline in character as a result of their proximity to coastal waters but which are substantially influenced by freshwater flows Source

  • RIVER BASIN: River basin means the area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta. Source

  • RIVER BASIN DISTRICT: River basin district means the area of land and sea, made up of one or more neighbouring river basins together with their associated groundwaters and coastal waters, which is identified under Article 3(1) of the Water Framework Directive as the main unit for management of river basins. Source

  • HEAVILY MODIFIED WATER BODY: Heavily modified water body means a body of surface water which as a result of physical alterations by human activity is substantially changed in character.  Source

  • BODY OF GROUNDWATER: Body of groundwater means a distinct volume of groundwater within an aquifer or aquifers. Source

  • BODY OF SURFACE WATER: Body of surface water means a discrete and significant element of surface water such as a lake, a reservoir, a stream, river or canal, part of a stream, river or canal, a transitional water or a stretch of coastal water. Source

  • WATER RESOURCES: Water resources are freshwater deposits available or capable of being made available for use in sufficient quantity and adequate quality, at a location and over a period of time appropriate for an identifiable demand. Source

  • RIVERS: River means a body of inland water flowing for the most part on the surface of the land but which may flow underground for part of its course. Source

  • SUB-BASIN: • Sub-basin means the area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a series of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes to a particular point in a water course (normally a lake or a river confluence). Source


  • QUALITY ELEMENT: Quality element is a component of the aquatic ecosystem whose measurement determines the status of water. There are biological elements, hydromorphological elements, chemical and physicochemical elements. Source

  • GROUNDWATER STATUS: Groundwater status is the general expression of the status of a body of groundwater, determined by the poorer of its quantitative status and its chemical status. Source 1Source 2

  • SURFACE WATER STATUS: Surface water status is the general expression of the status of a body of surface water, determined by the poorer of its ecological status and its chemical status. Source 1Source 2

  • SAMPLING STATION: Sampling station is a group of sampling points that are used to evaluate the status of a body of water. Source

  • ECOLOGICAL STATUS: Ecological status is an expression of the quality of the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems associated with surface waters. Source 1Source 2

  • INDICATOR: Indicator is the measurement of a quality element that evaluates the quality and the status of water. Source

  • METHODOLOGIES: Methodologies are a group of methods used to evaluate the status and the potential of the bodies of water. They establish which actions will be taken during a planning cycle and determine the requirements for using water and the recovering actions, etc.

  • PROGRAMMES FOR THE MONITORING OF WATER STATUS AND QUALITY: Water status and quality monitoring programmes: The article 8 of the Water Framework Directive specifies that Member States shall ensure the establishment of programmes for the monitoring of water status in order to have a coherent and comprehensive overview of water status within each river basin district. Monitoring programmes are a basic tool for water management and shall provide the information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken and the implementation of the established objectives. Their design shall reveal the status of water; identify aquatic ecosystems health as a result of its sustainability, wealth and biodiversity; determine the level of water pollution; assess the consequences of the emission of pollutants from diffuse and point sources; prevent or reduce deterioration produced by the presence of priority substances; assess the impact of hydromorphological alterations, etc. The implementation of the monitoring programmes is also the key to surveilling the quality of water, which is used for different purposes, in particular water supply for the population. Source

  • SAMPLING POINT: Sampling point is the geographic location where samples are taken, or data are collected. Source


  • ALBUFEIRA CONVENTION: The Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Waters of the Portuguese-Spanish River Basins, usually named Albufeira Convention, was signed in 1998 in the Portuguese city of Albufeira and entered into force on 17 January 2000. It is the latest convention signed by both countries on shared water resources and it allows the implementation of common legislation in compliance with the WFD, and the implementation and development of each country’s water policy. Source

  • BIRDS DIRECTIVE: Birds Directive is aimed at the long-term conservation of all species of wild birds in the European Union. It establishes a general system of protection and management of these species and lays down rules for their exploitation. It shall apply to birds, their eggs, nests and habitats. Source

  • HABITATS DIRECTIVE: Habitats Directive is aimed at the protection of natural habitat types, and the protection of habitats and populations of wild species (except for birds) in the European Union. Source

  • WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE (WFD): Water Framework Directive (WFD) establishes a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. It entered into force on 22 December 2000, and it represents a milestone in the history of water resources management and its ecosystems. Source

  • ECOLOGICAL STATUS: Ecological status is an expression of the quality of the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems associated with surface waters. Source 1Source 2

  • INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (IWRM): Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize economic results and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

  • INVENTORY OF NATURAL HERITAGE AND BIODIVERSITY: Inventory of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity is one of the tools used to know and plan the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, alongside the State Strategic Plan for Natural Heritage and Biodiversity (Plan Estratégico Estatal del Patrimonio Natural y la Biodiversidad) and the Natural Resources Management Plans (Planes de Ordenación de los Recursos Naturales). The inventory’s primary goal is to provide objective and reliable information that can be comparable on a state level, and to develop conservation policies, management policies and sustainable use policies. This source of information shall also meet the information requirements of the international agreements. Source

  • ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES: Environmental objectives are the objectives established under Article 4 of the Water Framework Directive that shall be achieved for bodies of surface water, bodies of groundwater and protected areas. Source

  • HYDROLOGICAL PLANNING: Hydrological planning aims at achieving the good status and the protection of the public hydraulic domain and the waters identified under the revised text of the Water Law, approved by the Royal Legislative Decree 1/2001 of 20 June. It also aims for the satisfaction of water demand, the balance and harmonisation of the regional and sectorial development, increasing the resource availability, protecting its quality, economising and rationalising its use in harmony with the environment and other natural resources. Source

  • ECOLOGICAL POTENTIAL: Ecological potential is the status of a heavily modified or an artificial body of water, so classified in accordance with the relevant provisions of Annex V of the Water Framework Directive. Source 1 | Source 2

  • ECONOMIC AND LANDSCAPE POTENTIAL: Economic and landscape potential: proper environmental management of a natural environment not only affects the conservation of the area, but also has positive effects on many domains, such as economics, governance, tourism, welfare, etc. Source

  • TRANSBOUNDARY NATURAL RESOURCES: Transboundary natural resources are the natural resources that cross international borders, including transboundary rivers and aquifers, the atmosphere and high seas fisheries resources. Source


  • CONSERVATION: Group of measures taken to maintain and restore natural habitats and populations of wild fauna and flora species at a favourable status. Source 1Source 2

  • ECOLOGICAL CORRIDOR: A territory of varying size and configuration that, due to its conservation status and arrangement, functionally connects natural environments that are very important to wild fauna and flora, separated from each other, enabling different ecological processes such as the genetic exchange between populations of wild species or the migration of specimens of those species. Source

  • ECOSYSTEM: A dynamic complex of plant and animal communities and microorganisms and their nonliving environment that interact as a functional unit. Source

  • NATIVE SPECIES: A species found within its natural range. Source

  • INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES: A species inserted or established into a natural or semi-natural habitat or ecosystem that represents a major alteration or threat to the native biodiversity because of its invading behavior or the risk of genetic pollution. Source

  • FISH FAUNA: Fish fauna is one of the biological quality elements requested by the WFD to be studied. Fish communities include different trophic levels such as omnivorous, insectivorous, planktivorous and piscivorous, and they occupy the levels that are close to the apex of the trophic pyramid. Therefore, the composition and structure of the community integrate the information of the lower trophic levels (especially of algae and invertebrate) and reflect the quality status of the aquatic ecosystem. Source

  • BENTHIC INVERTEBRATE FAUNA: Macroinvertebrates and microinvertebrates can be identified in the benthic fauna inhabiting submerged substrates in aquatic environments. Macroinvertebrates are the predominant group in rivers, but they can also be found in the littoral zone and on the bottom of lakes and wetlands. They are defined as all invertebrate fauna larger than 500-μm in size. Macroinvertebrates inhabiting fluvial ecosystems are widely represented by different families of molluscs and insect larvae; however, crustaceans, oligochaeta, annelids, nematoda and hirudinea may also be common depending on the type of river. Microinvertebrates include smaller invertebrates and are particularly important in lakes and wetlands. Benthic invertebrates (especially macroinvertebrates) are one of the biological groups most widely used as indicators of water quality. They are reliable biological quality elements due to their qualities, such as their high diversity and the existence of different taxa with different ecological requirements related to the hydromorphological (water velocity, substrate), physicochemical and biological characteristics of the aquatic environment. Source

  • PHYTOBENTHOS (DIATOMS): Phytobenthos (diatoms) are autotrophic organisms that live associated with any bottom substrate in aquatic ecosystems and include, inter alia, cyanobacteria, microscopic algae (microalgae), and macroalgae. Source

  • NATURAL HABITATS: Natural habitats mean terrestrial or aquatic areas distinguished by geographic, abiotic and biotic features, whether entirely natural or semi-natural. Source

  • SITES OF COMMUNITY IMPORTANCE (SCI): The SCI means a site which, in the national territory or the marine environment and the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf to which it belongs, contributes significantly to the maintenance or restoration at a favourable conservation status of natural habitat types and habitats of species of Community interest, listed in the annexes of the Law 42/2007 of 13 December 2007 on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, within their natural range. Source 1 | Source 2

  • MACROPHYTES: Macrophytes are aquatic plants visible to the naked eye, including vascular plants (cormophytes – pteridophytes and phanerogams), bryophyta (mosses and liverworts), macroalgae (calcareous algae and from other groups, charophyta), and cyanobacteria. Source

  • NATURA 200 NETWORK: Natura 2000 Network includes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Sites of Community Importance (SCIs), until its transformation into SACs, designated under the Habitats Directive. It also includes Special Protection Areas (SPAs), designated under the Birds Directive. Natura 2000 sites are selected with the aim of ensuring the long-term survival of species and habitats in Europe, contributing towards halting biodiversity loss. They are the main instrument for the conservation of nature in the European Union. Source

  • SPECIAL PROTECTION AREA (SPA): Special Protection Area means a site that has been designated for the conservation of the species of wild birds listed in the European Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive). Source

  • SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION (SAC): Special Area of Conservation means a Site of Community Importance where the necessary conservation measures are applied for the maintenance or restoration, at a favourable conservation status, of the natural habitats and/or the populations of the species for which the site is designated. Source 1 | Source 2

  • PROTECTED AREAS: Article 6 of the WFD concerns the register of protected areas and mentions the establishment of a register or registers of all areas lying within each river basin district which have been designated as requiring special protection under specific Community legislation for the protection of their surface water and groundwater or for the conservation of habitats and species directly depending on water. The river basin management plan shall include a summary of the register of protected areas with maps indicating the location of each protected area, environmental information and, where appropriate, conservation status, and a description of the Community, national or local legislation under which they have been designated. Source

  • SENSITIVE AREAS: An aquatic environment is deemed to be a sensitive area when it can be included in one of the following groups: a. Lakes, lagoons, reservoirs, estuaries and marine waters which are eutrophic or which may become eutrophic if protective action is not taken; b. Surface fresh water intended for the abstraction of drinking water which are likely to contain more than 50 mg/l of nitrates; c. Bodies of water where further treatment is necessary, in addition to the secondary treatment that is established in Article 5 of the Royal Decree-Law and to comply with Community legislation. Source

  • VULNERABLE ZONES: Areas of land which drain into the waters affected and the waters which could be affected, if action is not taken, by pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources and the areas of land which contribute to such pollution. These zones shall be included in the register of protected areas of the river basin management plan. Source

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