Environmental Crime in Lagoa

in Letters to the editor · 19-02-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Editor, This month Lagoa Council marked International Wetlands Day with a week-long programme of information about the importance of wetlands for the global environment.

Meanwhile the council has approved plans to destroy 11 hectares of valuable wetland in Lagoa and replace it with an industrial park. Mayor of Lagoa, Luis Encarnação, believes that the wetland at Alagoas Brancas contains nothing of value despite the findings of a 2019 study by experts from Lisbon and the University of the Algarve which calls for protection of this valuable wetland. He cites an inept report hastily prepared in 2018 by ICNF, the environment agency in Portugal, which states that the wetland is not important enough to be included in the government’s network of protected sites.

However, Aguas do Algarve, in which Lagoa Municipality is a stakeholder, believes that Alagoas Brancas meets the conditions for protection under the Ramsar Convention. The legislative body which reviewed the public complaints about the proposed destruction of Alagoas Brancas dismissed them on the basis of the findings of the ICNF report. Encarnação defends his position by saying the case has been closed in the legislature. This game of Catch-22 is allowing Encarnação and his fellow councilors to facilitate the destruction of Alagoas Brancas. These local officials have not been transparent about the site’s true value, or the increased flood risk, or the threat of collapse of the substructure due to construction.

The mayor warns of dire financial consequences if the project is blocked but has failed to say if the council has sought external funding to help protect the wetland. While Lagoa Council aims to make Lagoa a beacon of environmental sustainability in Portugal council officials are shamelessly destroying the very wetland which gave the city of Lagoa its name. The council’s “wetland week” was simply a political charade to hide a serious environmental crime.

Geoffrey Blofeld

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