Alagoas Brancas wetland development - is no news, good news?

LagoasBrancasSmallIt is now five months since the Câmara Municipal de Lagoa (CML) referred the matter of Alagoas Brancas to the government bodies, APA and ICNF following a public consultation process initiated by the Câmara in April.

To date, there has been no further official communication from either the local or national government.

A letter from the public was sent to CML in July to seek clarification about the process. Similarly, a letter was addressed to the ICNF headquarters in Lisbon. Both of the letter writers are still awaiting a response.
Meanwhile, members of the Grupo de Defesa das Alagoas Brancas have continued to campaign actively to raise awareness and gain support in the local community.

In July, Jorge Ramos, former leader of the Bloco de Esquerda party in Lagoa, organised a public debate in the Convento de São José. The event was well attended and an overall success. Unfortunately there was not one single representative from the Câmara despite invitations that also were sent to the ICNF, APA and Edificios Atântico.

Nelia de Sousa from Radio Lagoa was an enthusiastic contributor, invited by the group to mediate and delivering an excellent speech on the importance of nurturing a green urban environment:

“At a time when environmental issues are the order of the day, it is urgent to speak of an environment without risks, without political or economic interests, simply with the intention of leaving future generations a home worth living. Lagoa can also have an oasis within this forest of buildings that gradually swallow the green of the city. It would be a place where people could slow down the hectic pace of everyday life, relax, bird-watch, contact with nature. But instead people in charge prefer, slowly, like no one is looking to slowly dry off and cover up what could be an oasis full of animal life.

Defending the Alagoas Brancas is not as stupid as many people think. To defend the Alagoas Brancas is to have an imaginative capacity to think of an ecological and pedagogical space, that is in perfect harmony with nature, a space that is pleasant to children and adults.

This year the city of Lagoa paid particular attention to education – Cidade Educadora – so how can we be an educating city if we do not value the environmental wealth that exists in the county and particularly in the city. Green weeks are created with the purpose of making everyone aware of the importance of preserving the environment and in practice this does not happen. These green weeks are good in the portfolio of the municipality, but expectations are disappointing when, faced with a catastrophic outcome for the Alagoas Brancas, no one seems to worry and the proof is that no one from the autarchy showed interest in being represented here today.

We would very much like the competent authorities to give the Alagoas Brancas the importance they are due, but instead they have made the way very difficult. Many uncertainties, doubts and questions.

St. Francis of Assisi said “Protect what is yours - its fauna and flora. Plants and animals embellish the earth. They are useful to man and represent the wealth of the Fatherland."
This August, some large letters were made to decorate the perimeter of the Alagoas Brancas site to coincide with the fair at Fatacil. The letters spelled out the message “Salvar as Alagoas”. However on this occasion it was not officialdom but nature that intervened; strong daytime winds blew the majority of the letters down within a matter of days. Maybe a sign of what strong winds and rain can do if we keep destroying what little of nature still exists! They are due to be replaced so watch this space!

In the meantime a lawyer has been contacted to look at the legal framework of the situation in Alagoas and to define what can be done from a legal point of view to protect this area.
The contacted law office has been using their Facebook page to spread the message regarding Alagoas Brancas. In one of the posts on the 26th of August you can read the following: “…...we will pay special attention to this subject, we will bother many people and we will put in motion many things.”  The same post affirmed that Alagoas Brancas “HAS ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE. No, it is not an invention of the people who are trying to save it.” On the 9th of September, in another post, with reference to the planned construction, it was written that “it is necessary for this project to be stopped.”

Recently news of a new, already planned Parque Natural for Parchal including a lake have reappeared in some of the local papers. It is ironic that the Camara Municipal the Lagoa plans a park with a LAKE for Parchal and where there is a natural lake, full of life (where at least 107 species of birds have been recorded this year - https://ebird.org/portugal/hotspot/L4150610?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec - it is being destined to be covered in concrete to make space for a supermarket and 'marine support warehouses' about 7 to 8kms from the sea!

The Grupo de Defesa das Alagoas Brancas remains determined to reach the goal of collecting 4,000 signatures on their petition to save the Alagoas in order to have the case raised in parliament. The current total is about 2,200, so please sign if you have not already done so, and persuade your friends to do likewise.

Martin Owen & Anabela Blofeld
September 2018 



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