Around 100 people took part in a protest last Saturday afternoon (October 22) against the destruction of the Alagoas Brancas wetland area in Lagoa.
The event was organised by citizen group ‘Salvar as Alagoas Brancas’ with the support of environmental NGOs such as SPEA, Almargem, LPN, FAPAS, A Rocha, GEOTA, ZERO, TAGIS and SPECO.
As activist Deirdre D’Silva points out: “Alagoas Brancas, a seasonal freshwater wetland in Lagoa and home to over 300 species of animals and plants, is in the process of being destroyed by bulldozers.”
NGOs warned last week of the “imminent destruction” of the wetland area after “urbanisation works” started.
Anabela Blofeld, one of the leading voices behind the movement since it started in 2017, stressed the importance of Alagoas Brancas.
“It is an irreplaceable part of local heritage from which Lagoa got its name, it provides natural flood defence, which, if covered, will put people and their possessions at risk, it is home to 300 species of flora and fauna, some of which are threatened or just recovering, as wetlands store four times more carbon than forests of the same size. They are a valuable part of the ecosystem that humans depend on.”
She went on to say that animals such as turtles are being buried alive by the bulldozers.
“This is breaking the law and the developer and Câmara should be held accountable for such actions,” Blofeld added.
However, Lagoa Mayor Luís Encarnação remains adamant that the works are legal, and that the council cannot interfere.
Encarnação stresses that the injunctions against the project have been unsuccessful and adds that the project is part of the municipality’s Urban Plan (P3), approved in 2009, making it an “irreversible” decision.
The mayor does not recognise the environmental value of the wetland, stating that studies and the council’s own observations have found that it only has water “two or no more than three months per year.”