Câmara de Lagoa wants to buy Alagoas Brancas with money from the Environmental Fund

Meetings of the Chamber and the Movement with the Minister of the Environment were decisive in unblocking the issue

The Lagoa Chamber may purchase the land in Alagoas Brancas with financing from the Environmental Fund. The news was given yesterday by the Movement to Save Alagoas Brancas, in a statement, and confirmed today by the president of that authority, in statements to the Sul Informação.

Luís Encarnação told our newspaper that, after conversations with the Minister of the Environment Duarte Cordeiro, a “ceiling maximum” for the support that the Environmental Fund can provide for the acquisition of the land.

Based on this guarantee of support, the Chamber is negotiating with the developer of the subdivision, who “arrived at a value that is within the ceiling maximum we had. It is a value that is now acceptable».

In addition to the main promoter of the subdivision, it is still necessary to “reach an agreement with a local company” which also owns part of the land that the environmental movement wants to be protected and transformed into a place for bird watching and nature conservation.

«We have never been so close to a solution, but there is still a long way to go», particularly from a «technical and legal-legal point of view», he told the Sul Informação the president of the Lagoa municipality.

«We worked for a long time on three possibilities – the displacement of the habitat and we were working with the ICNF on that issue; the relocation of the subdivision, which was immediately out of the question, because the promoter outright said no; and also the purchase of the land, which, initially, was an impossibility due to the amount requested by the promoter», explained Luís Encarnação.

«At a certain point, we said that only with the help of the Government we could resolve the issue» and that is exactly what happened: the Minister of the Environment became interested in the case and the possibility of appealing to the Environmental Fund arose.



For all this to move forward, the pressure exerted by the Movement to Save Alagoas Brancas, with the support of environmental non-governmental organizations, such as GEOTA, Cidade da Participação, Liga para a Protecção da Natureza and Almargem, was decisive.

On August 28th, all these environmental groups held a meeting, in Lisbon, with the Minister of Environment and Climate Action.

This meeting came after several others «that the movement requested and obtained with competent responsible entities and party groups in the region, with the aim of finding support, financing lines and solutions to save the Alagoas Brancas wetland».

On that occasion, minister Duarte Cordeiro «assured us that he would support a solution for Alagoas Brancas with money from the Environmental Fund».

This was reiterated later, on October 17th, in the second meeting that the movement had with the mayor of Lagoa, «who reaffirmed the statements made at the last Municipal Assembly of Lagoa, that is, there is a new option to resolve the issue of Alagoas Brancas».

Despite the news, the movement does not stop its activism. On October 18, he submitted his second petition to the Petitions Committee of the Assembly of the Republic.

«The movement introduced over 8000 subscriptions and around 7700 petitioners were eligible. The petition has since been closed and will soon be discussed in the plenary of the Assembly of the Republic", they reveal in their statement.



A few days later, another unexpected ally appeared: a rare plant that goes by the scientific name of damasonium bourgaei (or star-of-the-juncais, in Portuguese), and which, according to a group of renowned botanists who visited the wetland of Alagoas Brancas, “is in abundance throughout the area”.

The visit was made on October 20th by experts Udo Schwarzer (member of the IUCN/SSC Freshwater Plants Specialist Group), Claudia Schwarzer (Landscape Architect), Ute Jandt and Helge Bruelheide (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) and biologists Nadja Velez and Ana Marta Costa.

German botanists found: «The reed star is a species of aquatic plant that is rare at European level and classified as In danger in Portugal. The plant represents a habitat of clayey soils that are flooded for a long time throughout the year. Habitats of this type in the Mediterranean climate are extremely rare and deserve to be fully protected. Destroying a habitat like this was as crazy as destroying Doñana National Park, because this is one of the few other places in the world where this very rare habitat also exists».

Some of the botanists, with years of field experience, had never seen this Damasonium bourgaei. The enthusiasm for its discovery in the lands of Alagoas Brancas even led the experts who carried out the prospecting to consider this wetland as «an authentic “Damazónia”».

Therefore, if everything goes well in the process of purchasing the land with funds from the Environmental Fund, the mayor of Lagos assured the movement that «Alagoas Brancas will be re-naturalized and protected for future generations».


Photos: Movement to Save the White Alagoas


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