Serralves park uniqueness results from the combination different landscape units rendering in a highly diverse space, particularly important considering the urban matrix where the Park is inserted. The presence of so many different habitats joined with thoughtful management turns Serralves Park in a keystone structure for the urban biodiversity of Porto. The diversity of its arboreal and shrub heritage includes more than 8000 specimens of woody plants, representing approximately 230 native and exotic (non-native) species and varieties.
Some rare species, such as the yew (Taxus baccata, a species at risk of extinction in Portugal), and other representative examples of Portuguese flora, such as Stone pine (Pinus pinea), Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), Chestnut (Castanea sativa), cork oak (Quercus suber), oak tree (Quercus robur), holly (Ilex aquifolium, protected by law), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) and hazelnut (Corylus avellana).
The diversity of species and origins of exotic (non-native) flora in the Park is vast, including: Liquidambars (Liquidambar styraciflua), Virginia tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) and giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from the USA; Atlas cedars (Cedrus atlantica), Lebanon cedars (Cedrus libani) and Himalayan cedars (Cedrus deodara); the Indian chestnut tree or horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), arboreal rhododendrons and numerous varieties of camellias (Camellia japonica), of Asian origin, among many others. This valuable heritage has been subjected to an exhaustive study, with the collaboration of the University of Aveiro and CIBIO-InBIO – University of Porto, including identification of the species, geo-referencing of the specimens and development of a plataform that centralises this information. In this manner, the public can have access to the survey and also use its content for scientific and educational purposes.
From the fauna point of view, the Park is also pivotal for the biodiversity present in the city. The Park hosts all groups of terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) and a myriad of invertebrate groups. Of particular notice is the presence of several species endemic of the Iberian Peninsula such as the Iberian-newt (Lissotriton boscai) and the Bocage’s wall lizard (Podarcis bocagei). For the Park’s fauna, a digital plataform was also developed in collaboration with CIBIO-InBIO – University of Porto with information for every species present and a citizen science component where the visitor is invited to include registers of species seen.
All the natural values present combined with a very active educational service makes the park a privileged place for environmental education and raising awareness toward biodiversity.