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Waiting for Godot?

Saturday the 12th of August 2023. Gallows’ humour in our own backyard? ECO123 and the new Botanical Garden at Caldas de Monchique: it’s not that easy to be close to a forest fire and write a story about possible solutions to climate change. Where should this story begin, and where can it end? Baiona, Alentejo. A barbecue triggers this gigantic conflagration. So this time it’s a wood-fired grill. The list of stories surrounding the reasons behind forest fires is long. If no-one has deliberately started the fire, it was not caused by intent but by gross negligence; in any case …

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Fever.
A commentary by Uwe Heitkamp

A commentary by Uwe Heitkamp

Saturday the 15th of July 2023. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the use of fossil fuels has released enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is a gas that reduces heat reflection from the Earth, leading to the rise in temperatures on our planet. Every year sees the addition of several billions of tons of carbon dioxide. Today we know that these will remain for centuries in the earth’s atmosphere. The speed of the earth heating up has long been underestimated. Its consequences are dramatic: ice melting, rising sea levels, devastating forest fires and ever worse …

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The Re-greening of the World.

Saturday 1st July 2023. This story begins with the loss of woodlands. The error that is committed (not only) in Monchique is probably that the forest, ie nature, is always only viewed as a commercial space. This means that any investment in forests has to yield a profit, for otherwise this investment is not worth our while. Now this refers not only to financial interests but also to labour, the physical investment, involving hours, days and weeks. So is the forest nothing but a commercial surface, something like a sausage factory? Doesn‘t the forest also hold something fundamentally honourable: conservation, …

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The invasive acacias and mimosas of Monchique.
A report on a dangerous state of affairs by Theobald Tiger

A report on a dangerous state of affairs by Theobald Tiger

Saturday the 24th of June 2023. Those walking from Caldas de Monchique to Esgravatadouro, continuing on to Fornalha and taking the short PR5 route up to the summit of Picota cross what you could call a minefield of millions of acacia and mimosa trees. Some of them six feet high, others a little shorter still, some already taller, they reach the rim of the tarmac road. Hikers will be crossing the dead country left after the 2018 forest fires. This is where the wild shoots of acacia and mimosa grow on both sides of the tarmac, and no council whatsoever …

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„Democracy & Wealth: here today, gone tomorrow?“
A retrospective by Theobald Tiger

A retrospective by Theobald Tiger

Saturday 17th June 2023. There is at least one of the 308 districts of Portugal where democracy was never really thought through to its logical conclusion. Despite the fact that in Monchique too the coming year will bring the fiftieth birthday of revolutionary celebrations, an important promise is being allowed to lapse – namely the narrative of a better future through wealth. For wealth is the exact lofty magic word and the cosy state of being that many citizens were hoping for (not only) in Monchique as a result of the Carnation Revolution 1974 and of membership in the great …

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Tiny Forests are part of the solution

Forests store CO2, forests store water, forests keep cities cool, forests ease droughts, forests protect against erosion. This is a list that could go on and on. A forest that is properly protected is an investment in the future. By 2030, the EU wants to see at least three billion trees planted. That’s not bad. However, you can plant a lot of trees in eight years, but not a forest, right? Unless we were to plant a large number of Miyawaki forests. What are they? And how do they work? Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist who was born in 1928 and …

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Stop talking. Start planting.

Planting trees is the most effective measure against the overheating of the Earth. Maybe in a few years‘ time humanity will come to the realisation that part of our salvation lies in rebelling, i.e planting trees as if our lives depended on it and reanimating landscapes wherever possible… This is the way 48-year old Jochen Schilk puts it in his book Re-Greening the World “50 infectious stories about planting trees”. Rarely have I been sent a book in such an unconventional way. One Friday morning as I opened my letterbox down by the road there it was, wrapped in brown …

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What’s the value of Nature?

From time immemorial, Nature has been providing us with our essentials, including fruit, cereals, fish, meat and wood. Clean air and clean water are other free gifts of Nature. Economists group all these aspects together under the concept of natural capital. Put simply, natural capital is defined as the stock of natural goods and services, such as soil, forest or the sea, which provide fresh air, for example, or drinking water. Yet it is, in fact, problematical to attempt to place a value on the services of nature. If humans want to use the natural resources in a gentle and …

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Education in the spirit of the Prussian army
The way a person learns is the way a person teaches.

The way a person learns is the way a person teaches.

Born in Porto on 10 May 1951, José Francisco de Almeida Pacheco is a teacher, anthropologist and pedagogue. ECO123 had a chat with this resourceful educationalist, who has brought greater democracy to educational management, and asked him what value nature has in education in Portugal. Do you think that nowadays, when UN ambassador Jane Goodall is saying that human beings, the most intelligent creatures on Earth, are destroying their planet, it still makes sense to educate children? This was a question I asked 55 years ago, in 1968, when I was living in a country that was under a dictatorial …

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Go back to the land and live a simple life

Lesley Martin is 76 years old and is still teaching and practising permaculture. Her father was in the RAF, so she moved around a lot as a child, finding it difficult to describe where she comes from: “I was born in Wales, but my attachment to Wales is slight. I studied Architecture at university, but I really wanted to be a farmer…” After four years, she realised she absolutely did not want to be an architect and quit. This greatly upset her father, yet, some years later, he gave her the money to set up her own farm in Cornwall. …

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