Environment Minister travelled to Silves on Tuesday to attend a ceremony which formally unveiled the proposal to grant Lagoa dos Salgados wetland “protected natural reserve” status.
A ‘period of public consultation’ will begin on December 9 to collect people’s opinions on this bid.
Addressing journalists at the event, João Pedro Matos Fernandes said that Lagoa dos Salgados will become the first new natural reserve to be created in Portugal in 21 years “if the bid is successful”.
“Those who are here understand the two reasons why this should be a protected area: due to its natural beauty and because it acts as a 400-hectare buffer zone to ensure the quality of the ecosystem and the preservation of the Algarve and the country’s territory,” the minister said.
The minister also addressed the ‘dark cloud’ still hanging over the area – 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.
“There has never been a project approved here and there are no acquired rights,” he said. “The lands do belong to someone, but the way they are used must be compatible with a protected area, which this area will be,” he said.
But there is still work to be done, as environmental association Almargem stressed last week. Although it said that this is a “historic mark for the conservation of nature in the Algarve, it is also a victory for everyone who, over two decades, has fought for Lagoa dos Salgados to receive protected status”.
Anyone with an opinion on the matter should use the public consultation period to express it. Public scrutiny will run for a month.