Environmentalists fight to protect beauty spot from develope

Environmental association Almargem is challenging the relevant authorities about the approval of a project to create a “biological” olive grove in the protected green areas of Vale da Ribeira da Fonte Benémola, in Querença (Loulé), described as one of the “natural treasures” of the Algarve.

In a press release, the Algarve-based association alleged that the grove may be used as a lever for the building of a tourist development that has been planned in the area but has lost impetus over recent years, most likely due to financial difficulties.

“Is this a sad act of contrition or a test for what is to come?,” Almargem asked, hinting that the project, which incorporates a golf course, hotels and tourist developments in a total area of 200 hectares, will follow the construction of the grove, which was also criticised due to its “improper” biological presentation.

Almargem also accused the authorities of demonstrating a “permissive” attitude by approving a project with these characteristics and added that the plan completely goes against a sustainable use of the land.

The association revealed that the promoters of the project began cleaning and deforestation work of the area, but were stopped when local property owners alerted the GNR police. They state, however, that the signs of destruction of areas protected by law are already visible.

“Aside from the unclear elements of the project and its social implications, Almargem cannot remain indifferent to an attack which threatens a natural space that has been fought for throughout the 25 years of existence of this environmental group,” said Almargem.

The grove is predicted to take over 80 hectares of Fonte Benémola’s national ecological reserve (REN) and Querença – Silves waterways.

Vale da Ribeira da Fonte Benémola is described by the environmental association as “one of the treasures of the region”, containing a number of natural habitats, which is why it was first included in the list of protected areas in 1991.

The Algarve Resident contacted the regional agriculture board (Direcção Regional da Agricultura do Algarve) and the regional development and co-ordination commission (CCDR) which were both unavailable to comment on the subject at hand.