Sunday, June 24, 2018
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Rainwater: slow it, spread it and let it seep

Droughts, desertification, heat waves, floods: the consequences of climate change are intensified by a water balance that is out of equilibrium globally. In some parts of the earth, farmers, different initiatives and landowners are meeting this challenge with simple, local measures – and successfully. The principle they follow is always the same: rain should seep into the ground where it falls. Decentralisation instead of centralisation. One successful example of this is Tamera, in the municipality of Odemira in the Alentejo. Every organism needs water. Whether an area has sufficient water or not determines its value for everything that lives there, …

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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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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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There's no such thing as rubbish in nature

There’s no such thing as rubbish in nature

I you he she it, we you they. We are all throwing something away at this moment. It’s easy to say, isn’t it? Into the rubbish. Something away. Out of sight, out of mind. After me, the flood. Or maybe not? I’m standing in my kitchen collecting up the bottles from the past month. Eight empty wine bottles, and an empty bottle of olive oil. It’s the day I go to the glass container and clean up my apartment: bathroom, bedroom, living room, kitchen and study. I have also found a very practical solution for my used paper, which I …

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rota vicentina

My Way
Rota Vicentina: 14 + one day)

Via Algarviana – Rota Vicentina – Rota do Pescador   Day 1 – Aljezur – Odeceixe (18 km) On this first day of April, the sky is as I know it in April: unsettled. For the last two weeks, I’ve been walking the 250 kilometres along the Via Algarviana, with little more than a sense of the Atlantic in the near distance. Now I can raise my nose into the wind, smelling salt and all sorts of colourful things by the wayside. The lines on the paper of my map indicate a further 350 kilometres, which I welcome with a …

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Modern Times

The year is 2020. There’s no one sleeping in the streets in Portugal any more. No one has to stand queuing in the soup kitchens of the charitable associations. The beggars have disappeared. The universal basic income in the Welfare State of the 21st century has arrived in southern Europe. Portugal, the smallest of the five southern EU countries, has decided to provide each of its citizens with a basic income. The EU’s pilot project is beginning. Prime Minister António Costa and his government, which has had a stable majority in a coalition in parliament with PAN since the last …

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