Portuguese Residents: Please read this and sign the Petition against the intensive Agriculture in the Costa Vicentina National Park!
From the hills of Quintas Carapetas, inside the Costa Vicentina national Park, near São Luis, you see an ocean of plastic covers of greenhouses reaching out till the coast. Driving from Milfontes to Zambujeira, you pass through farms on the left and right side of the road. Especially when you take the dirt roads, it becomes obvious and scary: The industrial fruit, flower and vegetable farms with their fields and greenhouses along and inside the Vicentina National Park have grown visibly, and they are directly behind the coast.
“You are not allowed to built up a tent for one night in the national park but if the tent is greenhouse and you are a big paying company then you can obviously do what you want here.”
In this portuguese blog you can read more about it: https://navegantes-de-ideias.blogspot.com/2018/02/destruido-todo-o-parque-natural-do.html – Or just check it yourself on google maps. Here are some screenshots:
The Contradiction between Eco-Tourism Campaigns and Reality in the Alentejo Litoral
The Rota Vicentina is promoted as one of the ‘Leading Quality Walks of Europe’ and it is indeed a very popular hiking trail that leads along the coast and also inland. Lots of hours of work and money are spend to bring tourists to the Alentejo that want to enjoy the nature and learn about the traditions. But when you hike the Historical Trail, some parts lead you through endless eucalyptus plantations only, like it is for instance between Cercal and São Teotonio.
Blue Flag Beaches (Banda Azul)
It is nice that the Alentejo has won 3 more Blue Flags on its beaches by the Blue Flag Association of Europe in 2019, all of them in the Odemira Region. The municipality of Odemira has now 11 sea and river beaches with a ‘Banda Azul’: Almograve Sul (2019), Almograve North, Malhão Sul (2019), Malhão North, Alteirinhos, Carvalhal, Zambujeira do Mar, Furnas Mar (2019), Furnas Rio, Franquia and Santa Clara fluvial. In total, 352 beaches, 17 marine ports, and 9 eco-tourism boats in Portugal have received the Blue Flag Label by the international jury in 2019. (Source: tribunaalentejo.pt/esta-o-alentejo-cheio-de-bandeiras-azuis)
We are proud of our beaches, they are beautiful! But when you look at the beaches (and behind them) more closely, you will find the less beautiful sight of them that is not mentioned by the European labels. The most obvious are the oil refinery in Sines and the agriculture behind the beaches. The least obvious is the nuclear waste that was dropped into the Altlantic Ocean and the English Channel until the 1990’s.
The painful Reality
The destruction and hush that is going on in the national park and all along Alentejos coast is stupefying and makes the eco-tourism campaigns and efforts to preserve nature almost a joke. Are the tourist organizations aware of it, and what is done to stop or change it? Mentioning only the main disasters here is already an almost unbearable truth:
- One of Portugals biggest environmental polluters is the Galp Oil Refinery in Sines with alarming accidents in the past years, including the latest oil spills in 2019. Its daily pollution can be watch easily from Malhão beach as a brown cloud of smog hanging over the factory and the harbour.
- The intensive forestry with plantations of eucalyptus mono-culture causes fires and creates poor soil all over the Alentejo. Most of it is owned by big foreign compagnies that don’t leave any profit in the country and that don’ have to pay any compensations for the disasters they leave behind.
- The intensive agriculture with non-biological, industrial farming and greenhouses that use chemicals and fertilizers right behind the coast, everything spread into the ground, the water and the air.
- Nuclear Waste Ocean Dumping: In the second half of the 20th century, 8 European countries dumped thousands of barrels of nuclear waste into the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. Do not forget the garbage – because it still shines. (More info: nucleopedia.org / welt.de / youtube)
Sign the Petition against intensive Agriculture in the Costa Vicentina National Park
‘We’ve come to beg you to help us. The natural park no longer preserves, but authorizes the coverage of the watering area of the Mira perimeter, with GREENHOUSES! This area coincides with the Natural Park near the coast. All those who have land there are abandoning their crops and especially their livestock, and selling or renting to mega companies to install greenhouses and intensive agriculture there.
They (the farms) have already existed but their number was balanced.
Problems: Infiltration in the water tables; Contamination of the entire coast, beaches, Extinction of the diversity of species. Nothing remains here for the benefit (of the region), the work is done by immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand in degrading conditions, the companies are based abroad, nothing is left here (in the region) but only the poison and social chaos.
We are all afflicted but we have come up against the arrogance of the higher powers. Help us save this European jewel, we do not want to be Europe’s vegetable garden, not like this!’h
‘Vimos suplicar que nos ajudem. O parque natural já não preserva, antes autoriza a cobertura da área de rega do perímetro do Mira, com ESTUFAS! esta área coincide com a do Parque Natural, junto à costa. Todos aqueles que tem ai terrenos estão a abandonar as suas culturas e sobretudo as suas pecuárias e a vender ou alugar às megaempresas para que instalem ai, estufas e agricultura intensiva.
Já existiam, mas o seu numero era equilibrado, problemas: infiltrações nos lençóis de água; contaminação de toda a costa, praias, extinção da diversidade de espécies; Nada fica aqui de lucro, o trabalho é feito por imigrantes Bangladesh, Paquistão, Tailândia em condições degradantes,as empresas têm sede no estrangeiro, nada fica cá, só o veneno e o caos social.
Estamos todos aflitos,mas esbarramos na arrogância dos poderes superiores. Ajudem-nos a salvar esta jóia europeia, não queremos ser a horta da Europa, não desta maneira!’