According Joaquim Castelão Rodrigues, regional director of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), in total, 76 trees were affected by these works, and although “not all” are “doomed”, many “will hardly recover”.
The leader stated that the tree-clearing interventions protected by law are subject to ICNF authorization, which “did not happen in this case”, so that entity ordered the work embargo and lifted “the respective report”.
“Someone is responsible. Whether it is EDP, the contractor or a subcontractor, this is what we have to find out,” said Joaquim Castelão Rodrigues, stressing that the next step is an investigation, with witnesses hearing.
The works took place at the end of November and early December, in a 6.5 kilometres long and 10 metres wide strip, near Quintã, Salir parish, Loulé municipality, in Faro district.
In response to Lusa, an official source of EDP Distribuição stated that he is not aware, “so far”, of the report about the works in question, arguing that their suspension was due to “a decision of the company itself”.
EDP ??reinforced that the authorization to cut the cork oaks “was requested from ICNF in April this year” and “due to the delayed response”, the company proceeded with its work, taking into account the imminent risk to grid and thus fulfilling its legal obligations.
The GNR Nature and Environment Protection Service (SEPNA) confirmed to Lusa the existence of four related environmental complaints as case, having the agents “visit the site” and “identify some of the authors of the works”, in a joint investigation, but coordinated by ICNF.
The warning came from a forest owner, who warned the Serra do Caldeirão Forest Producers Association and filed a complaint with the ICNF, as he “would not want to be held responsible” for the work on his land, a forest technician at the association said.
Pedro Jesus told Lusa that the association sought more evidence and has already received reports from 15 owners, who say they have been affected by these "severe pruning", and the news came that it had happened in another area "a little further north" , although no association member went to the site “to confirm”.
The cleaning took place on a strip of land below EDP's medium voltage lines and, despite the ownership of the land, cleaning and fuel management “within a minimum range of 15 metres under the lines” is the responsibility of the company.
"Pine and eucalyptus trees, where there is a danger of canopy contact with the cables, are usually cut, but holm oaks and cork trees, young trees where the canopy is far from the cables, that had never happened," said the technician.