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Plastic greenhouses 'out of control' in Costa Vicentina Natural Park

EstufasEnvironmental organisation, ZERO, has analysed a report on the growth of intensive agriculture in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park and concludes that it is out of control.
ZERO has seen a report from the General Inspectorate of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning relating to the control procedures, inspection and the halting and reversal of illegal agricultural activity that is meant to be carried out by the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF).
The Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Land Development Plan (PNSACV) has a raft of specific rules and regulations which are being ignored, not only by farmers and agricultural companies but also by the plethora of entities that are supposed to control them.
The ICNF, the Directorate General of Agriculture and Rural Development (DGADR) and Odemira Council, despite complaints from alarmed locals, have remained ineffective and indifferent.
There clearly is a  conflict between nature conservation and intensive agriculture in the Mira Irrigation Perimeter, an area that occupies about 12,000 hectares in the Odemira and Aljezur Council areas. The authorities have failed to control the proliferation of greenhouses, tall trees and polytunnels.
The agricultural inspectorate's report assessed the administrative procedures of the controlling authorities in some detail and concluded that, in most of the area, "compliance with occupational conditions is not assured at the moment."
The allegations include:
• serious omissions and dubious interpretations of the legislation for urbanisation and construction, which has allowed Councils to avoid responsibility
• deficient understanding of the regulations covering this protected area
• the inability of the ICNF to understand the expansion of agricultural activity in the Specific Intervention Area, nor its growth since the overall plan was revised
• the issuing of favourable opinions to carry out agricultural projects that should be subject to obligatory Environmental Impact Assessments for projects that cover 50 hectares or more
• situations when the ICNF failed to meet legal deadlines so projects went ahead with its tacit approval and where irregularities were detected and, despite poorly reasoned opinions, were not halted, to the detriment of the natural area
• no records kept of any regular monitoring activity by the ICNF
• the ICNF demonstrated insensitivity and disinterest regarding the use of pesticides, despite being the managing entity for the Natural Park;
• the national irrigation authority being totally indifferent and not complying with its own water management regulations when deciding on the installation of greenhouses or covered areas for protected agricultural production
ZERO had demanded a moratorium on these greenhouses, polytunnels and other covered areas as the entities that are meant to be monitoring and regulating their development show little interest in doing so.
Regarding the compatibility of this boom in agriculture with the conservation of nature, a cartographic study of habitats and species completed in 2016, pointed out 'areas of potential conflict, in which there are intensive agricultural activities, also identifying threats to the natural values present.'
ZERO wants the whole shambles tidied up and a moratorium imposed on the installation of new greenhouses in the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park, primarily to see the application of an effective management plan which makes clear whether or not these intrusive structures are subject to the opinion of the Councils or not.
This, at least, would be a start before this natural park is further covered by shimmering plastic.
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0 #2 Ed 2018-05-21 08:26
Quoting liveaboard:

As for Zero, their name is well chosen. I assume they live in cities, work in offices [or not at all] and dictate their we-know-it better views to country dwellers and farmers.
And why are "tall trees" on the "Bad" list?? I like tall trees, I would have thought even Zero likes them.
Zero was created in 2015 by several former presidents of Quercus and does some excellent work. All it is calling for in the CV national Park is that the rules are applied. The reason for the proliferation of plastic greenhouses is that the rules that the rest of us have to follow are being ignored, flouted and stretched.
0 #1 liveaboard 2018-05-21 08:06
"agriculture" good, "Intensive" bad.
It's supposed to be a natural park, but every square meter is privately owned, and most of it is zoned for agriculture.
The agriculture ministry has to sign off on any and everything, and their remit is to maximize agriculture while preventing land from being diverted to other uses. Like tourism for instance, or residences.
However, the once hugely overstaffed bureaucracy is now understaffed, their branches are closed and the buildings derelict, when you enter there's a skeleton staff that can barely keep up with the huge paperwork load that wasn't reduced when the personnel was.
The ICNF has a budget that can barely put fuel in their vehicles, I fail to understand how they are expected to do anything.
Those polytunnels sure are ugly, but they seem to be the only profitable farming system now.
Polytunnels have proliferated [helped by large subsidies and grants by the way], and have created a lot of spinoff employment [transport, irrigation systems, handling, construction, shops...].
Like it or not, farming is a labor intensive business with high financial risk and low to moderate returns.
The Vicentina park needs to be defined; is this a nature area, or farm land? Is tourism being encouraged or not?
As for Zero, their name is well chosen. I assume they live in cities, work in offices [or not at all] and dictate their we-know-it better views to country dwellers and farmers.
And why are "tall trees" on the "Bad" list?? I like tall trees, I would have thought even Zero likes them.

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