“Community funds are crucial to maintaining these projects, with increasing strength in preserving and safeguarding environmental interests, but they are always conditional on the intermittent community support frameworks,” said João Catarino.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the centre’s 10th anniversary commemorations, the official argued that an annual budget “will be a guarantee for people” who cannot be “suddenly deprived of their posts” but also for the sustainability of the structure itself.
“Neither the people nor these animals can go through this, so it is so important that we have, in addition to EU funds, an annual guarantee of a national budget,” he said, considering fundamental work already developed in the recovery of a species that was practically lost.
“The work done by the centre over ten years has been a success, even for the number of existing animals and the way we are releasing new specimens of the Iberian lynx, a species that was practically extinct,” he said.
For the official, the good results of the National Iberian Lynx Breeding Centre (CNRLI), in Silves, are due to the work developed by the centre’s team, in collaboration with partners from Spain.
According to the Secretary of State for Nature Conservation, Forests and Spatial Planning, for the maintenance and consolidation of projects such as this, it is important that, in addition to the community funds, there is a defined annual budget that maintains “continuity in people’s policies and work”.
João Catarino also said that Portugal will continue to have Community funds, not only through regional Operational Programmes (OPs), but also through applications with Spain, under other cross-border cooperation programmes.
The official also highlighted the partnership between the Government and the company Águas do Algarve, a company responsible for water supply and wastewater systems in the region and which annually reimburses €300,000 for the operation of the centre.
The Iberian Lynx National Breeding Centre fist opened 10 years ago and since then 122 animals have been born, as part of the Iberian Lynx Captive Breeding Project.
“In these 10 years 122 animals have been born, and more than 100 have been reintroduced into the wild [in Mértola, Portugal and Spain, Andalusia, Extremadura and Castilla La Mancha],” Rodrigo Serra, the centre’s manager, told reporters.
According to the official, the balance is “extremely positive” because it was able to “reproduce in captivity and bring back the Iberian lynx to Portugal, as well as to provide reintroduction projects throughout the Iberian Peninsula”.
Rodrigo Serra added that the work at the centre “is far from complete, there are goals to be achieved”, stressing, however, that “the whole team is motivated, even by the success that has been the journey so far”.
Of the eight captive-born animals this year, seven will be reintroduced into the wild by early 2020, and one will be integrated into the ex situ conservation programme as a breeder.
Rodrigo Serra also stressed “the importance of all the work that has been done with Spanish breeding centres, with the sharing of protocols and techniques”, saying that it is “a project where everyone learns from each other”.
“In the end it is a true Iberian programme, because everyone shares protocols and animals, and the results are very good,” he concluded.