Friday, January 19, 2018
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If we conserve nature…

When I was still a child, at the age of eight, I learnt in geography that there were still under three billion people living on the planet. The amount of life concealed by this number meant nothing to me. Now I’m 50 years older and, in that time, the world’s population is supposed to have almost trebled. Is that right? Do you understand what I have written there, and am myself trying to understand? There are now seven and a half billion people living on our beautiful blue planet EARTH. And the number isn’t falling. I have another look at …

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Nature is alive!

Indigenous forest A current website recently attracted my journalistic attention. Here I must point out that I only recommend websites these days where the creators identify themselves with their name and address. I no longer look at anonymous rubbish as a matter of principle. I do the same with telephone calls. I do not waste valuable time or my attention on people who call me from hidden numbers. As the creators of this website worked in a transparent way, I simply rang them up and asked them for an interview on the topic that had led them to put this …

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School at a time of rural exodus

School at a time of rural exodus

In remote regions, schools are shrinking, many are being closed. The pupils are being concentrated in centralised schools, have to travel long distances and become estranged from their families. For young families with children, life in the countryside is becoming even more unattractive. They are moving away, and the schools are shrinking even further. What is to be done? This is the question that is being asked by those in charge of education, headteachers and parents. In the Alentejo, children are becoming quick-change artists, twelve-year-old José Manuel forexample.* On his parents’ farm, he’s a country lad, able to perform any task …

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How can forest fires be prevented?

How can forest fires be prevented?

Let’s begin with a brief history. In 2003, Portugal was hit by one of its greatest ever heat waves. The country’s central region – in the area between Lisbon, Leiria and Coimbra – was the worst affected by forest fires. With temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, a relative humidity of less than 30% and winds of more than 30 kilometres per hour, there was an obvious threat of extreme fire, which was even more likely in the case of those uncultivated rural areas left abandoned by farmers. The dry vegetation was transformed into a genuine powder keg. A quarter of …

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Terracrua Permaculture

TERRA CRUA
SEEDS OF CHANGE

Terra Crua is a different kind of company that works on the basis of an innovative model of ecological design. Terra Crua brings together engineering and architecture, landscaping and ecology and the principles of permaculture. A new concept of design that combines principles and strategies that go beyond sustainability and includes innovation, economic viability and social and environmental responsibility in a holistic model. Established as a company around two and a half years ago, Terra Crua provides a range of services, consultancy, planning and management of regenerative ecological projects, but its foundations were laid some nine years ago. “We started …

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Out and about on foot at almond blossom time
Monchique Mountain Marathon 2017

How far can we still travel using our own bodies and on our own feet? Monchique Mountain Marathon 2017 is an offer to take you on several different guided walks and hikes. Between Christmas and the New Year, you can discover the Algarve uplands on twelve paths, some longer some shorter. Being out and about on foot opens up a unique opportunity to get to know Monchique with your own senses: the natural surroundings of the mountains with its streams, mills and waterfalls, the ancient forests of cork oaks and chestnut trees; the culture of regional music, local dishes and …

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The school belongs to the community

The school belongs to the community

In Portugal, José Pacheco, aged 63, is a symbol of alternative school education. This short grey-haired man with bright eyes and a moustache looks like the quintessential friendly teacher. But his words are radical: “Today the people of the 21st century are being taught by teachers from the 20th century using methods from the 19th century.” In his view, classes grouped by age, exams and marks have no scientific or legal basis. Above all, he knows that there is a completely different way of doing things. As a young teacher, he started to gradually reform a state school with two …

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Music is just as important as Maths

Recently, a crowd funding campaign attracted my journalistic attention. In it, a school wanted to implement an education project through crowd funding. So, I took €50 from the business till and invested it in the building of a new, year 9 classroom at the Waldorf school in São João dos Montes near Vila Franca da Xira. The project was going to cost €12,500 to implement and in the end this sum was indeed raised. And, as we at ECO123 only tell stories of success, I planned to make a visit to the school in the electric vehicle that belongs to …

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Getting around on foot

Getting around on foot

Today, public spaces are dictated to by driving. In most of our cities, it is actually no longer possible to cover a distance on foot. Cities are built for cars, not for people. Instead of designing places where people can live together, town planners create through roads, bypasses and arterial roads. Pedestrians in natural spaces are of no importance in the city any more, or in the countryside, for that matter, not even old trees. They are chopped down. Asphalt always has priority. Nature is part of the decor. And because that’s the way it is, urban dwellers have to …

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nature tourism walking trails in Portugal

Speaking of nature tourism…

Every forest fire makes our country poorer, much poorer than we can imagine. It sets a whole avalanche of consequences in motion. More CO2 in the atmosphere causes temperatures to rise. Heat waves, torrential rainfall, storms and soil erosion are the consequences of climate change, which is itself aggravated again and again and more and more by forest fires. With every house that burns down, the risks increase, and hence the cost of insurance policies. The variety of flora and fauna declines. Agriculture and forestry are destroyed, bee populations die out. With every forest fire, there is less interest in …

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