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Some pearls in the necklace are still alive

Algarve: He’s a photographer, who cherishes the Algarve weather and relates to the region like a fine piece of filigree jewellery. His name is Filipe da Palma. What drives him, he confesses, is the opportunity to go out and take photographs… and to feel everything around him. “This nourishes the deeper side of me, it’s what keeps me sane.” He does this because he feels the need to share the beautiful, but also the ugly, something that lies between identity and reality: “I also like to show the wounded Algarve, the scars and small tumours that are scattered throughout the …

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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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Salgados

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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Tourist or traveller?

Traveller: a kind of historian who goes in search of the identity of a group of people, undergoing different experiences, documenting them and learning from them; tourist: he who experiences products designed by the tourist industry, the “fast-food” version of the traveller. Travel writing on the Algarve is full of travellers who feel the pulse of the land and its inhabitants, living with them and observing their lives without judgement. A. H. Stuart (1) writes: “the English tourist can be described as a person who travels for pleasure, experience and understanding. The tourist who fails to uphold the rules of …

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The desirable future of solar energy in Portugal

As a researcher working on the governance of energy transitions in 2016, I was fascinated by the relatively slow growth of solar energy in Portugal despite the amazing potential. I crafted a research project to explore this with a focus on accountability relations, and successfully competed for a position at the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation in Norway, where I feel fortunate to explore this and similar issues with some fantastic colleagues. Between 2017 and 2019, I have spent about five months in Portugal, studying the multi-sited and multi-scalar geographies of solar energy uptake, from the capital Lisbon to …

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The Last Word

Finally, some good news. António da Encarnação from Monchique is 81 years old, and he has had to watch many forest fires over the course of his long lifetime. In 2018, he lost his home, lots of chestnut trees and cork oaks; in 2016, he lost another home. But he has never lost heart, or his good spirits. António has worked all his life as a farmer, growing food in his fields for himself and other people. The quality of his products — which he still produces despite his age and bouts of ill health — is well-known beyond county …

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Apples from New Zealand, avocados from Portugal, beef from Brazil

Lisbon/Berlin. Cities are crucial for climate change to be brought to a halt or even avoided. Long-distance transport of food products causes many CO2 emissions. Using local resources can reduce these emissions. Millions of tons of food are transported to our cities each year. This transport brings food from all over the world, which leaves farm gates by road, rail or sea and causes huge amounts of CO2 emissions. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Studies (Germany) has for the first time made a study of the potential of local food production to feed cities both …

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Monchique, with a Future

Things are taking more time. Those who didn’t have any fire insurance last year, when the fire reduced the forest and 71 dwellings to ashes, now have to have the patience of a saint. There are those in Monchique who are really seeing themselves tested. There have been only three houses in the meantime that have had approval from the insurance to be rebuilt. The rest depend on the IHRU Government program. Will it be carried out? Most of the victims feel doubly beaten down and discriminated against by the bureaucracy of the whole process. Victims have to fill out …

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An oasis comes into being on the burnt land of Monchique

The landscaping project plans for the planting of 1,000 different species of native trees and shrubs in the Barranco do Esgravatadouro valley. The first 50 young trees have been planted since 30 December: various species of oak (quercus canariensis and quercus ilex, among others), cork oak, ash (fraxinus excelsior), chestnut, walnut, beech, willow, lime, maple, birch, elm, magnolia, camellia, as well as carob, laurel and pepper-trees. The terrain has been mapped out carefully and the themes are well-defined: paths will link several islands of trees placed at different levels. The first trees have been planted along the stream that rises …

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Is the light dawning?

Energy communities want to start up in Portugal “How can I produce energy collectively?” You can’t because the law doesn’t allow it. The legal obstacles in Portugal against autonomy and energy decentralisation came to the fore during the BEACON workshop in Setúbal. Examples of projects and energy communities brought from Greek and German cities would be illegal in Portugal. As people clamour for changes in the law, there are already initiatives that point to a more ecological and community-based future. “Citizens must put a halt to their local network,” Ana Rita Antunes advised. She is one of the three women …

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