The coastal strip between São Torpes and the south of the municipality of Sines is part of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park. To the north of the county, the wetland of Lagoa da Sancha, another element of great natural value, is part of the Lagoa de Santo André and Sancha Nature Reserve.
The coastal cliff, especially south of Porto Covo, where consolidated dunes and Pessegueiro Island emerge, is one of the most valuable areas of the county from the ecological and landscape point of view. The island is also a sleeping and nesting place for birds (jackdaw, seagull, cormorant, etc.), some of them endangered.
Beaches and Dunes
The beaches are the main natural resource of the county. The large sands in the north and the small beaches intersected by the cliffs in the south give a wide variety of environments and landscapes to the 30 kilometers of Sines coast. The dunes, which occur predominantly north of Ribeira dos Moinhos and south of Ribeira da Junqueira, are very sensitive ecosystems.
Morgavel Albufeira and streams
The final sections of some waterlines and the temporary ponds they form, as well as the Morgavel Albufeira, are also very important for riverside and aquatic fauna. The brook valleys of the southern half of the county have a natural vegetation of great interest and plays an important role in stabilizing and protecting the soil. Otters are known to exist in the Morgavel and Junqueira rivers. To the north of the county, the main watercourses to note are Ribeira dos Moinhos and Ribeira da Sancha.
Lagoa da Sancha
Lagoa da Sancha, a wetland located in the north of the county, by the sea, shares the Santo André Lagoon ecosystem and is very valuable for migratory birds (the lagoon houses a red heron colony).
Morphology and geology
In the county’s territory three major morphological units are distinguished: the coastal plain, the residual relief of the Sines massif (which only stands out in Monte Chãos) and the eastern escarpment, which borders the coastal plain and is part of the Serra do Cercal massif . The coast, which the Cape of Sines separates into two somewhat different sectors – sandy to the north, rocky to the south – is another important element of morphology. The main source of stone materials in the municipal territory is the Monte Chãos quarry, exploring the gabbro-dioritos.
The county’s climate has a marked Mediterranean character, which the Atlantic influence moderates in some respects. Thus, the thermopluviometric regime is typically Mediterranean, but the variation in air humidity (always high throughout the year) and the incidence of fog and mist reveal the Atlantic influence. The most frequent wind directions are N (dominant in autumn) and NW (dominant in rest of year). NW’s dominant winds carry moisture-laden sea air masses.