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Interviews

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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How we can prevent forest fires

I was born in Goa, India – Domingos Xavier Viegas opens a conversation with ECO123 in the publisher’s garden. I am a Portuguese citizen and I came with my parents and three sisters to Portugal in 1957. My parents wanted to give us a higher education and understood that this would not be easy if we stayed in Goa. My father was a civil servant, and he sensed that India wanted to annex Goa, so he decided to come to Portugal. We left Goa in 1957 and in 1961 it was taken by the Indian Union. After that, I went …

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The commitment?

Witnesses and experts of the catastrophe that struck Monchique a year ago were heard at the public hearing in Monchique on August 3rd. One of the goals of those present, amongst whom was Rui Lopes, commander of firefighters, married and father of two, was to re-examine the failures of 2018. “Commitment” was the keyword of his speech. Please explain to us the meaning of the word “commitment”(compromisso). It can have several meanings: agreement, obligation or debt. When we talk about forest fires there has to be an agreement, a commitment on the part of all those taking part in the …

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The legacy I will leave to my children is whatever is left by the mine

Covas do Barroso, Chaves. Over the past few years, a teacher living in England from Covas do Barroso, Trás-os-Montes, has swapped Portuguese and English books for the Mining Journal, lithium market reports and the minutes of international mining conferences. Catarina Scarrott, a mother of two children aged 2 and 7, fights passionately for the land on which her family has lived for more than ten generations. This is the land to which she would like to return, were it not for the lack of access and services. This is the land that British company Savannah Resources wants to gut in …

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How do you break free?

Once you know your tipping point… Kathi Heusel, a holistic coach from Austria, and Bart Delember, a Belgian kite-surf-instructor, both in their mid-thirties, are living in the Western Algarve. One day, they reached their tipping point regarding the gigantic amount of plastic waste in the ocean and in their day-to-day life. Finding it unacceptable to see how much garbage, and especially how much plastic, is currently floating in the ocean – they decided they actively wanted to live their lives in a different way. Most people probably feel the same, says Kathi Heusel in a conversation with ECO123. But what …

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BEACON, a beacon in the dark?

Are journalists able to take a neutral stance? Who chooses the stories they work on, and who decides the way these are presented? Do they portray reality and describe it through their words – like someone dressing a mannequin in a shop window? What are these stories that journalists write? What influence does intuition have in their work? What is the perspective of journalists when they observe and ask, listen and touch, sense the taste and smell, and then tell their story? What pictures do they choose? Questioning yourself and your work also calls into question the meaning of what …

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The municipalities are becoming increasingly aware

We are in Lisbon, Cais do Sodré, near the Tagus river, with the 25th of April Bridge in the background. It is February 2019. We are exchanging ideas with Dr Sofia Simões, an environmental engineer. She is 48 years old, married, and the mother of two children, aged nine and thirteen. She works on a national scale for the Faculty of Science and Technology at Lisbon’s Nova University. A while ago, she began to think and work on a supranational scale for various countries in the European Union. She returned from Brussels yesterday. “I have lived in Sweden; I also …

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Before it was considered rubbish, today it generates electricity

“All cities are different. But, when it comes down to it, we’re all working for the same thing. Some follow one path, some follow another. Some might happen to lead the way, while others tend to follow along behind.” Fabíola Oliveira, from the forestry office, and Maria Elisabete Mato, an adviser to the mayor, have brought from the north of Portugal the solutions and challenges that are being experienced in Viana do Castelo. You presented the other municipalities with the inspiring example of a biogas plant. What are the advantages of this process? Maria Elisabete Mato: We have an intermunicipal …

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Innovating amid desertification and record temperatures

In Coruche, a municipal strategy has been initiated with the aim of lowering the consumption and improving the reuse of resources. But difficulties are being encountered in the implementation of far-reaching changes in a municipality faced with desertification, an ageing population and the disappearance of family-based agriculture. I talked with Patrícia Moreira, from the department of land use development and planning, and Rosa Lopes, who is the council’s representative in matters relating to waste management, as well as energy and water efficiency. Coruche started last year with severe flooding, and later had record high temperatures, with several days at 46º. …

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Ansião. The council that stopped the fire

While climate change is a common challenge, the local realities all differ from one another. ECO123 talks to Marcelo Afonso, a municipal councillor and adviser to the mayor in Ansião, who is passionate about the walking trails in the enormous oak forest in his municipality. To what extent is climate change a concern in Ansião? Unfortunately, our population is rather dispersed and ageing, which makes our need to adapt to climate change a challenge. We have to change people who are highly resistant to changing certain habits that they have maintained over many years. They often don’t understand (or don’t …

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