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Nature Reserve destroyed by avocado plantation

Clive Viney is the co-author (with Ray Tipper) of the book “Algarve Wildlife: The Natural Year.” As a nature lover and a long-term resident of Tavira, he is alarmed at the erosion of land and the destruction of natural habitats in the nature reserve near Castro Marim. Part of the Reserve has been given over to “the latest fad of avocado planting”. He is asking questions and demanding answers from IICNF (Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests), SPEA ( Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds) and other agencies. His actions have prompted the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment to …

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People have short memories. They barely notice slow changes, because they are always moving on, without paying any real attention to a place on a regular basis. Recognition of the value of nature suffers because of this deficit in human awareness. Increasingly people are living in urban areas, in a permanent state of unease, in a space and a time that overshadows nature. In the deceptive safety of the city, nature is used merely for decorative purposes. A tree here and an avenue there, seemingly refuges of peace and quiet, such as Central Park in New York and the Botanical …

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For they know not what they do

The photos are clear. Two employees of the municipality of Monchique are spraying herbicides onto public pavements. The two men suspect perhaps that they are doing something they shouldn’t, because otherwise they wouldn’t be wearing white full-body suits, mouth protection or gloves. They are protecting themselves – but who is protecting the people, plants and animals? When I ask them why they’re doing that and if they know what they’re doing, they wave me away angrily. Clear off! they shout. But I stay. Less than 15 minutes later, a mother pushes her pram over just these cobblestones. A cat, a …

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Photos - Uwe Heitkamp

Another Festival

People who want to focus the general public’s attention on a special idea or product organise a festival. That is typical of our part of the world. A beer, wine, orange and medronho brandy festival, bird watching, ham, sausage, and confectionery festival. One festival follows on the heels of another throughout the year. They could also be called fairs or jamborees. What is certain is that the 5th Ameixial Walking Festival will be taking place this year from Friday 28 April to Monday 1 May in the southern municipality of Loulé. And in fact it’s good publicity for a different …

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What should I take with me on my hike?

Via Algarviana GR13 Hiking signifies a return to our roots, to an original form of life and to our innate speed. All our senses are awake and feel, see, smell, hear and taste nature. When we go walking, our thoughts become sharper. This old pilgrims’ path is about 330 kilometres long. It takes us 14 or 15 days to walk it. A good rucksack and no more than 10 kilos of luggage for men. Important things are: one pair of long trousers and one pair of shorts, two shirts, one pullover, two pairs of non-slip socks made of wool/flax and …

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Planet of no apes?

The apes are dying out. Until now, large areas of the rain forest in Sumatra and Borneo – where the vegetation grows on wet peatland – were being further deforested to make way for agricultural palm oil plantations. Through arson, the now dried-out peat and the methane stored in it caught fire. For more than three months, fire fighters and the military tried to put out the fires. In vain. Stinging clouds of smoke covered large parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. Schools were closed. The normal day-to-day life of the people living there became impossible. Even with smoke masks on …

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Portuguese Hike

I was on a journey and awoke at night, but I wasn’t sure to start with if I had already been asleep and dreaming, or if I hadn’t slept at all yet, whether dream and reality weren’t just two states that merged together and overlapped with each other? Somehow, images and voices had blended together in my subconscious. I turned the light on and looked at my watch. Five past midnight. Some drunks were mumbling away in the next-door bar. The yellow neon glow of a street light came through the blinds into the bare room, where I was trying …

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Choose your shipwreck.

Ilha da Barreta We begin our voyage on board the ‘Praia das Conchas’ catamaran. It’s a 35 minute hop providing due time to appreciate the wonderful landscape of Ria Formosa stretching from ‘Portas do Mar’ in Faro through to our destination, Barreta or, as it is more commonly known, ‘Desert Island’. To these names, many locals also humorously add on the epithet of ‘pirate island’. With the experienced Captain Raúl Vicente at the helm, the voyages passes peacefully and calmly while opening an insight into the dynamic that men and nature can daily draw upon. On arriving at ‘pirate island’, …

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Faia Brava

On the trail of wild horses Once again, I’m out and about on foot. We have left the off-road vehicle behind where the terrain became impassable. We carefully follow the tracks on the paths over the hills. It has been raining, the weather bringing moisture and the cold over from the Serra de Estrela. There are hoofmarks of wild horses in the ground. Here and there, some quite fresh horse droppings can be seen in the grass of the reserve, a few older cowpats too. The ones that are still warm show us that we are on the right track. …

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National green fuel

There is nothing new about the rise in forest fires resulting from the predominance of eucalyptuses in Portuguese forests. However, ever since October, environmental organisations deem the situation has taken a turn for the worse due to the entry into effect of decree-law No. 96/2013 (1), the controversial legislation termed “The Eucalyptus Law”. This legislation allows for landowners to plant eucalyptuses on plots of less than five hectares without bothering to notify the national Institute of Nature and Forestry Conservation. In practice, this is swiftly driving an increase in this forestry type, which according to the non-governmental organisation Quercus, already …

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