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Ecology

A conversation in the countryside

The hands of the clock have not yet reached five o’clock on this beautiful summer day that is slowly awakening from its slumber. The information arrives. I am going to meet with a group of citizens who have decided to put an end to monocultures. So, I get out of bed at four in the morning and get dressed. I arrive at a crossroads in no man’s land. I had parked my car in a safe place some time before, and so I walked the rest of the way. At some point, I turned off the tarmac road onto a …

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Do you know how
Intelligent Trees
communicate with humans?

Dr Suzanne Simard is a professor of forest ecology teaching at the University of British Columbia in Canada whose work focuses on how trees communicate with other trees. The passionate educator and TedTalk speaker was given an exclusive platform in the film “Intelligent Trees” to tell the most interesting eco story of the year. Dr Simard used radioactive carbon to measure the flow and sharing of carbon between individual trees and species. She discovered that birch and Douglas fir share carbon. Birch trees receive extra carbon from Douglas firs when the birch trees lose their leaves, and birch trees supply …

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What forest is this?

Like sap, we rise up through the four layers of a forest. We progress from the bureaucrats in state institutions to experts who are passionate about the forest. Let’s move from the Dantesque vision of the current ‘eucalyptugal’ to the landscape of the lush forest that is to come.   The ground layer It’s called Quinta da Fonteireira, in Belas, and it is a rare green lung in the suburbs along the Sintra railway line. Between the ages of eight and eighteen, I slept more than a hundred nights there, in Vale Escuro. At that time, when I was in …

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Dumpster Diving

Where? Lisbon, 7pm. Pling! A WhatsApp message: ‘You’re coming shopping tonight?’ ‘Shopping’ is code here for the ‘respiga’, Dumpster Diving. Wikipedia has it nailed down: ‘Dumpster diving (also ‘skipping’) is salvaging unused items discarded by their owners… from… waste containers.’ So, what does this look like in real life? At 8pm, we are waiting, with backpacks, head torch and rubber gloves at the ready, opposite our trusted organic supermarket. Half an hour later, we hear the comforting rumble of the wheelie bins, then wait till they are all lined up and the security guards are on their way. ‘Boa noite, …

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Is Eucalyptus Invasive?

Not everyone places economic growth at number one on their aspirational wish list. The area behind A’s house marks the beginning of a forest. If truth be told, A is living with B, his wife, inside the forest. On his plot of land, measuring one hectare, you’ll find over 500 trees of all kinds: umbrella pines, cork oaks, strawberry trees, willows, alders and ash, bay trees, birches and beeches, olive trees, cedars, chestnuts, and all kinds of fruit trees. Every tree, he says, has its own place, its own home. To him, the forest is the last paradise remaining to …

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Zero waste

INTERVIEW with Paula Policarpo, the president of Zero Desperdício (www.zerodesperdicio.pt), The Zero Waste project won first prize at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2020, in the category ‘Support to ecological market development and resources efficiency’. How do you see Portugal in the context of food waste in Europe? It’s estimated that every year about a million tons of food are thrown away. That is equivalent to wasting 50,000 meals a day, enough to cover the needs of the 360,000 Portuguese finding themselves in a situation of food poverty. I think that the biggest problem in Portugal is the lack of …

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The House is Falling Down
The trial against EDP Distribuição Energia SA has started

828 days have passed since the last great forest fire in the Monchique mountains. Now, in mid-November 2020, the judiciary is finally moving. Dare I say, a snail is approaching the finishing line? The third branch of power of the State is independent. In the dock, we have EDP Distribuição Energia SA, the company caught up in the tangled web of the former monopolist, which seems to be completely overwhelmed by its task. It transports electricity via transmission lines from the energy provider to the customers and end-users. The latter are starting to abandon EDP Comercial – now SU Electricidade …

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Forests, our Natural Heritage

Inspired by  https://florestautoctone.webnode.pt/ When I cast my mind back to the beginning of my time on earth, I remember my first visit to a forest, where the crowns of the trees provided shade for the soft soil underfoot. Huge, age-old and very strong trees, mostly beeches, oaks and pines. There were scattered birches and ash trees, trees that were both small and large, living together in their own universe. We would play hide-and-seek in the woods. There were caves and rock formations, many of which were overgrown with moss. It was always reassuringly cool, always a little damp, and occasionally …

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“What are politicians thinking about when they try not to think about global warming?”

There is nothing that reduces credibility in government policies more than a lack of trust in its climate measures. When someone travels from one climate conference to another by plane, despite being responsible for implementing measures that mitigate the greenhouse effect, this demonstrates a contradiction in their way of thinking, a contradiction between the statements that they make and their attitude. It has been proven that the burning of oil, gas and coal causes the overheating of our planet’s atmosphere and poses a threat to all of humanity. So why is it that European governments do not set a limit …

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Test Drive – Hyundai KAUAI EV

Electric cars are considered one of the main solutions for reducing carbon emissions in transport. They are appearing in increasing numbers on the roads, but it’s important to look at various factors when purchasing a car for yourself. ECO123 set off into the world of 100% electric vehicles and sat behind the wheel to test three different models: the Hyundai Kauai EV, the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe.   The Peaceful Revolution There is little doubt that the future of sustainable mobility lies in the electrification of the transport sector. The need to reduce our carbon footprint, along with …

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