Alagoas Branca

New hope for Alagoas Brancas salvation

Negotiations for the purchase of the land are “progressing well”

There is new hope for the salvation of the Alagoas Brancas wetland area in Lagoa as the land could be purchased from its developers using money from Portugal’s Environmental Fund.

So says Salvar as Alagoas Brancas, the citizens’ movement which has been fighting to protect the area since the development plans for the wetland were revealed – and which involve destroying the wetland site to make way for an “industrial park” and “commercial areas”.

In August, the movement travelled to Lisbon to meet with Portugal’s Minister of Environment, Duarte Cordeiro, who said he would “support a solution for Alagoas Brancas using funds from the Environmental Fund.”

This measure, previously discussed and requested by the movement, signals a change and brings hope for the future of Alagoas Brancas. If this freshwater wetland is indeed saved with the Environmental Fund, Minister Duarte Cordeiro should be commended,” the group says in a statement to the press.

This hopeful sign was followed up by a meeting with Lagoa Mayor, Luís Encarnação, on October 17, which provided another optimistic update: the mayor is negotiating the purchase of the land with the developers.

Citing the mayor, the movement says that the “negotiations with the developer and other entities have been progressing well, and a solution for Alagoas Brancas may be reached soon.”

The movement reiterated that any “solution that alters or destroys Alagoas Brancas instead of preserving it” will never be supported by Salvar as Alagoas Brancas, but the mayor guaranteed that “if everything goes well and the new possibility is successfully achieved, Alagoas Brancas will be renaturalised and protected for future generations.”

To show that its position is defended by thousands of people, the movement submitted its second petition to the Parliament’s Petitions Committee. The petition received over 8,000 signatures, with approximately 7,700 petitioners being eligible. The petition is now closed and will soon be discussed in Parliament.

“It is important to remember that Alagoas Brancas are not yet saved, and ‘nothing is set in stone.’ Therefore, it cannot be said at this time that everything is resolved. Nevertheless, it seems that politicians and authorities are going in the right direction when it comes to Alagoas Brancas,” the movement says.

Alagoas Brancas ‘Damazon’ amazes botanists

On October 20, the Save Alagoas Brancas movement, along with Cidade da Participação, took a group of botany experts to Alagoas Brancas.

The group, including experts such as Udo Schwarzer (member of the IUCN/SSC freshwater plants specialist group), Claudia Schwarzer (landscape architect), Ute Jandt, and Helge Bruelheide (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg), as well as biologists Nadja Velez and Ana Marta Costa, carefully explored the Alagoas Brancas area.

As the movement had already reported, an “abundant” amount of rare plants named Damasonium bourgaei can be found throughout Alagoas Brancas.

“Some of the botanists with years of field experience had never seen this plant before. It’s worth noting that the population found in the initial records on iNaturalist was considered the largest in the country. During this second survey, several populations of this rare aquatic plant were found in various areas of Alagoas Brancas, creating a genuine “Damazon” of enthusiasm for the experts,” the movement says.

Cited by Salvar as Alagoas Brancas, the botanists said: “Damasonium bourgaei is a rare aquatic plant species at the European level and is classified as endangered in Portugal. The plant lives in a habitat with clayey and flooded soils for an extended period during the year. Such habitats in the Mediterranean climate are extremely rare and deserve full protection. Destroying such a habitat would be as crazy as destroying the Doñana National Park (in Andalusia, Spain) because this is one of the very few other places in the world where this extremely rare habitat exists.”

By Michael Bruxo

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