Almargem warns: “There is still a lot of work to do at Lagoa dos Salgados”

Almargem warns: “There is still a lot of work to do at Lagoa dos Salgados”

Last week’s announcement that the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF) is working on granting Lagoa dos Salgados protected status of “natural reserve” has been celebrated by environmental association Almargem. But it warns that “there is still a lot of work to do” to truly protect the area.

As the association points out, “concrete measures” have yet to be implemented on the field and work must be done to link the future “Natural Reserve of Lagoa dos Salgados” to the future “Natural Marine Park of the Algarve Reef”.

But as Almargem stresses, there is no doubt that this latest decision is an important step in the right direction.

“This is, without a doubt, a historic mark for the conservation of nature in the Algarve, but it is also a victory for everyone who, over two decades, has fought for Lagoa dos Salgados to receive protected status,” the association states.

Almargem highlighted the role that several national and regional NGOs and associations played over the years as well as every-day citizens, such as Frank McClintock who created ‘Save Salgados’ – a petition that brought together over 35,000 people to this cause.

One of the key moments in their fight to protect Lagoa dos Salgados came in 2019, when Almargem carried out a study that concluded that not only Lagoa dos Salgados but two other wetland areas in the Algarve – Foz do Almargem e Trafal in Loulé and Alagoas Brancas in Lagoa – were in need of legal protected status, and that local councils in these boroughs should review their PDM (municipal plan) in order to ensure the protection of these areas.

Silves and Loulé took Almargem’s recommendations into account, “unlike the borough of Lagoa”.

Almargem also highlights that Lagoa dos Salgados is part of a large area known as Praia Grande which also boasts another wetland area – Sapal/Foz da Ribeira de Alcantarilha – which has “great scientific interest on a geological and biological level, not only for being home to a great quantity and variety of bird species, but also due to its rich flora which possesses a mosaic of habitats.”

The association also points out that it is one of the last few untouched areas along the central Algarve coast.

But there is still a ‘dark cloud’ hanging over the area, says the association – the huge resort planned for the Praia Grande area, which includes three hotels and around 350 residential units, as well as an 18-hole golf course.

Almargem urges authorities to stop the development of the project, “no matter how ‘green’ its label is”, and replace it with a “truly sustainable project that respects the natural heritage” that the area boasts.

From December 7, a period of public consultation will be opened on portal ‘Participa’ to gauge people’s opinions on the proposal to classify the lagoon as a nationally-protected natural reserve.