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Interviews

I’m doing my bit

ECO123 talked to Cassandra Jorge Querido (aged 54), a landscape architect who was born in Évora and has been working for the past 26 years on matters relating to the environment. We met in the picnic area, at Benafim, in the municipality of Loulé, beneath an oak-tree, a holm-oak tree that is over 500 years old. We talked and had lunch together… Is the new Law No. 10/2018 going to help prevent fires in Portugal? In my opinion, this law isn’t in any way fit for purpose. And it may even make matters worse if it’s implemented. So, it’s dangerous? …

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Earth, the Guardian Mother…

Nuno Bicho, aged 53, says that “finding a new site is like a personal journey into the past without recourse to science fiction.” He was at primary school when he felt drawn towards Archaeology, but it was by chance that he studied History. Later he received his PhD in Anthropology (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas) and Archaeology (University of the Algarve) and he is currently Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour (ICArEHB) at the University of the Algarve. Alongside others, he is leading an international project, a quarter of which is funded by the …

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Back to the future

An eco-company in transition Herdade Freixo do Meio is an agroforestry company with 560 hectares of good farming land, situated in the Baixo Alentejo, close to Montemor-o-Novo, roughly 100 kilometres to the east of Lisbon. The company’s business adheres to ethical standards of agroecology, based on the medieval ecosystem of the montado (pastureland planted with groves of cork-oak and holm-oak trees)*, and practises permaculture in order to guarantee future generations the basic resources needed to enjoy a life of food sovereignty. Through its users’ cooperative, the farmer Alfredo Cunhal Sendim (aged 52) organises a space for participants where the community …

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A adaptação às alterações climáticas

  Teve lugar recentemente o Seminário “Agricultura Sustentável” em Alte (Loulé), que reuniu agricultores, peritos em solos, profissionais no desenvolvimento de comunidades, políticos e estudantes. O Seminário foi organizado pela Câmara Municipal de Loulé, a Associação In Loco, e a Escola Professional Cândido Guerreiro (EPALTE), com o objetivo de dar a conhecer aos agricultores alternativas perante o desafio das alterações climáticas, custos de produção elevados e baixos preços de venda. O tema do clima e do solo foi abordado nas duas sessões principais, por Alberto Espírito Santo e João Tiago Carapau, da WeConsultants. Alexandra Pestana, da EPALTE partilhou experiências na …

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Water here, but not there…

ECO123 spoke with the Administration of the Algarve Hydrographic Region, (Administração da Região Hidrográfica do Algarve) part of, the Environment Agency, (Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente) based in Faro. The office in Faro has responsibility for the Algarve. There are five main offices across Portugal and the other offices have responsibility for the Alentejo, Tejo, the North and the Centre. The Environment Agency has five strategic goals: to increase the level of protection, recovery and enhancement of the ecosystem; to increase the level of protection of people and goods in a risk situation; to improve the knowledge and information available about …

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The colour of white coffee

There is little in life that is black and white. However, the present-day river Tejo (the Tagus in English) is just that. It’s black on one side and white on the other. Transparent water alongside dirty water. This separation of the waters in the middle of the river is not due to force majeure in the classic, divine sense of the expression, but rather in a much more contemporary sense: the pollution of the river Tejo is due to the major paper factories on its banks in Vila Velha de Rodão. Until recently, no one had the courage to point …

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We have reached a production of 74 million litres

Monchique’s water has been known since the time when the Romans occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Endowed with unique properties, this water, with its ‘strange flavour’ (as various consumers have mentioned ever since it first began to be produced commercially), has recently become a synonym for quality and well-being. After passing through a period of financial difficulty, the Sociedade da Água de Monchique, which had held the concession for the commercial exploitation of the region’s water since 1992, was taken over in 2010 by the Braga-based company WaterBunkers SGPS SA. It rapidly evolved from being an own-label brand to become a …

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Must we prepare for water rationing?

Teresa Fernandes, head of Communication and Environmental Education at Águas do Algarve, the company that is responsible for the region’s water supply, admits that there is a possibility of a water shortage in the medium to long term. However, even if it doesn’t rain, she guarantees that there will be no lack of water for the local population, at least before the end of this year. Is water becoming a kind of “blue gold”? In my view, water is more important than gold, absolutely anywhere in the world, because it is irreplaceable. We can’t live without water, which is fundamental …

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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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