Natural values to be preserved in the west

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

A national nature conservation organisation has launched a campaign to have the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina area reclassified as a national nature park.

The Nature Protection League (LPN) wants the status changed to mark the International Year of Biodiversity and to raise awareness of the need to conserve and preserve the area’s natural beauty.

“The aim of the campaign is to draw public awareness for the importance of preserving the biodiversity of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina, and request that the government provides the area with the necessary legal backing to implement environment protection measures,” says LPN in a statement on its website.

LPN considers the area to be one of the most important in Portugal in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem services and says it has “unique natural values which will only be fully recognised by appropriate recognition” from the government.

The longest established environmental organisation in Portugal also argues that “the promotion of the area as a national nature park will effectively be a pull factor for sustainable development, leading to business opportunities”.

This, it says, and the promotion of the area’s traditional produce and culture could help to attract more visitors.

Preparations for the proposal for the area to become a national park include an online petition that, it is hoped, will help to take “the matter to Parliament”.

LPN will also now contact the Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) and local authorities such as Vila do Bispo, Aljezur, Sines and Beja Câmaras to ask for their support of the initiative.

The organisation also considers that the growth of tourism and urban development is incompatible with the area’s natural worth and proposed a revision of agricultural and forest land in order “to preserve it and support farmers and landowners who would ensure conservation of the area”.

For more information, please visit LPN website on (available in Portuguese only).