The environmental group Quercus has taken a stance on the issue of dwellings on the Ria Formosa islands and has stated its position in no uncertain terms in a new report.
The nature association considers it "essential" that all private and ‘without public utility’ buildings in the Ria Formosa are demolished so the sand dunes and associated wildlife can return to their natural states.
In a report prepared by Quercus and launched 27 years to the day after the creation of the Natural Park of the Ria Formosa, Quercus argues that "it is essential to proceed immediately with the removal of all buildings other than public utility ones that are present on the Ria Formosa islands."
Quercus points to several problems related to the human occupation of the Ria Formosa islands which are fully protected by various European environmental laws, but still has managed to drive away some species of birds and plants due to man’s influence.
"Currently, many areas of the natural park are weakened due to heavy tourism and urban pressures, namely those buildings in dune areas, using these areas for illegal parking, and illegal camping," read the Quercus report.
This situation, "leads to the destruction of sand dunes and habitat loss due to water pollution resulting from discharges of urban and industrial wastewater, also due to a boats washing their engines."
Quercus says the natural park "is still affected by various threats such as the possible expansion of Faro airport, aquaculture, the use of illegal fishing gear, the indiscriminate harvesting of bivalves, the dumping of solid waste and debris, overgrazing in some sensitive areas and the presence of exotic species of weeds which need to be eradicated."
The association proposes to adopt new management measures to protect the lagoon system and conserve the "species and natural habitats of community importance for water birds and globally threatened flora species" and it all should be protected by the Spatial Plan of the Ria Formosa.
Quercus also criticized the human actions of reopening sand bars to allow seawater to flow in, which in its view "interrupts the natural dynamics of the Ria Formosa islands and has led to the silting up of the interior of the Ria which then needed dredging which causes irreversible damage to lagoon ecosystems."
However, man is nothing when compared to nature and Quercus states that the main threat to the whole area is coastal erosion.
A petition to stop the destruction of islanders' homes now has been launched on Avaaz: