Felling cork oaks for dam areas criticised

in News · 06-09-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments
Felling cork oaks for dam areas criticised

The construction of a new hydroelectric dam will lead to the felling of more than a thousand cork oak trees, while there are fears that this number could be much higher.

The government declared the construction of the Alto Tâmega dams to be of “essential public utility”, thus enabling 1,145 cork oak trees to be cut down in areas to be flooded, a measure which has been criticised by the environmentalist association Quercus.

Tâmega’s Electricity System, one of the largest hydroelectric projects undertaken in Europe in the last 25 years, includes the construction of three dams (Daivões, Gouvães and Alto Tâmega), €1.5 billion of investment and the creation of 13,500 direct and indirect jobs during the period of greater volume of work (2018-2020).

The Government declared the “essential public utility” of the construction of Daivões and Alto Tâmega, two of the three dams that make up the Tâmega Electro-Producing System, and authorised Iberdrola to proceed with cutting down the cork oaks.

Iberdrola, the Spanish electricity company requested to fell 444 adult and 701 young cork oaks located in the floodable areas of the Daivões and Alto Tâmega dams.

From the beginning, it was known that these trees would have to be felled, as they are in the area to be flooded, but environmentalists fear that the number “is a low estimate and that there are many more juvenile cork oaks that are not being accounted for”.

In an order published in the Official Gazette, the government recalled that the project was subjected to an environmental impact assessment, which resulted in a favourable verdict.

With regard to the felling of cork oaks, the assessment did not identify aspects to hinder the start of work, but did order the compensation area (where new cork oaks should be planted to replace those cut down) should have an increase of 20 percent.

Iberdrola has an ongoing compensation project, approved by the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), which includes the planting of cork oaks on “42.35 hectares” in the forest perimeters of Barroso and Cabreira.

Already in 2016, the government authorised the felling of 608 trees on 4.6 hectares in the flooding area of the Gouvães dam.


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