Yesterday's protest march near Sines. The protest is being run through a social media platform 'in defence of trees' ( and backed by environmental NGO Quercus (
Yesterday's protest march near Sines. The protest is being run through a social media platform 'in defence of trees' ( and backed by environmental NGO Quercus (

Pressure increases over ‘indispensable’ plans to bulldoze 1,800 cork oaks 

Activists “suspect private interests at play”; demand transparency

Pressure is increasing for a rethink of government-authorised plans to bulldoze 1,800 cork oaks on a 32-hectare site overlooking the sea near Sines to construct a wind farm.

Yesterday, campaigners held a protest on the land, explaining to television cameras how “no one can justify destroying the environment in the name of decarbonisation”.

One hectare of forest captures 14.7 tons of carbon per year, activist Isabel Correia told SIC Notícias. “We have 32 hectares here, meaning there will be almost 250 tons of carbon that won’t be captured” if this project, led by EDP Renewables, goes forwards.

As early reports on the plan explained, compensatory measures presented by EDP include “afforestation of mixed stands of cork oaks and strawberry trees (medronheiros) in an area of 50.07 hectares (elsewhere), as well as the improvement of existing infrastructures in the Conceição de Tavira forest perimeter area”.

But yesterday’s demonstrators are unimpressed – describing the measures as “destroying trees to plant trees somewhere else without any system of fiscalisation, accompaniment or monitorisation”.

A petition raised in a bid to stop the tree-felling points to possible private interests at play; interests that are being allowed to take precedence “over the well-being of the Portuguese population and the preservation of our biodiversity”.

Says the text: “According to current legislation in Portugal, the felling of trees, especially protected species such as cork oaks, must be exceptional and based on strict criteria in order to be considered of “public utility”. The government order in question (in which environment minister Duarte Cordeiro described the wind farm as an “indispensable public utility”) should be subjected to a thorough analysis to check that it meets these legal requirements, which we strongly question”.

The petition goes on: “Claiming that the felling of cork oaks (…)  is of “public utility” is untenable, since no concrete evidence has been presented that the Portuguese population will benefit significantly from such an action. Furthermore, cork oaks play a fundamental role in maintaining the local ecosystem, promoting biodiversity, water retention and carbon sequestration. Therefore, cutting down these trees would have a negative impact on the environmental balance of the region, jeopardising the quality of life of all citizens”.

For now, the issue is ‘in the public eye’. Campaigners told reporters yesterday that once parliament returns from summer recess, they will be pressing EDP/ the environment ministry for ‘alternatives’, and for transparency in justifying the phrase “indispensable public utility”.

We suspect that private interests may be influencing this government decision, which is unacceptable. We demand total transparency about the reasons that led to the classification of the felling of cork oaks as “essential public utility” and we demand that any conflicts of interest be clarified. We believe that decisions relating to the environment should be guided solely and exclusively by the common good of the Portuguese population and the nature that surrounds us”.

SIC’s report yesterday highlighted the fact that the wind farm will include a very high voltage power line, connecting to the Sines’ electrical sub-station. In all, 15 turbines are planned. The project has been dubbed ‘Parque Eólico de Morgavel’.

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