Hectares of agriculture under plastic in what should be the protected Costa Vicentina

Blight of intensive agriculture in Alentejo prompts swingeing complaint to European Commission

The unquestionable blight caused by intensive agriculture projects on soil and indeed life quality in the Alentejo has seen a complaint delivered to the European Commission to commemorate World Earth Day.

Civic movement Juntos Pelo Sudoeste accuses the State-run Institute of Nature and Forestry Conservation (ICNF) of negligence in that it has “passively” allowed the degradation of the landscape, natural resources and social fabric of so many communities.

The formal complaint presented on World Earth Day yesterday to the European Commission highlights what the movement calls “hypocrisy and/ or total neglect by various governments that have literally abandoned one of Europe’s last wild coasts with sensitive natural values, some of them unique in the world”. 

Posting news of the complaint over Facebook, the movement has uploaded devastating images of just how intrusive intensive agriculture projects have become in the rural southwest corner of the Alentejo.

The overriding message is (and has always been) that these various projects – all focused on exports – have been allowed to mushroom in an “absolutely uncontrolled fashion, further depleting the already diminished reserves of Barragem de Santa Clara which supplies the whole region” with water, and sending ‘highly chemical’ products into the soil that find their way into underground reserves.

This is not a new warning: authorities in Portugal have simply turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the movement’s constant entreaties for action to the extent that this complaint is being seen as perhaps the only way to recover some form of sense and balance.

In tandem with the development and focus on World Earth Day, SIC television news  began a series of reports on the effects of intensive agriculture on the Alentejo.