Quercus enters Ria Formosa demolitions furore, saying “they must go on”

In total opposition to fellow environmentalists at Almargem, Portugal’s oldest environmental NGO Quercus has entered the Ria Formosa demolitions controversy, saying the razing of islanders’ homes “cannot stop”.

In a statement that contradicts many local opinions, Quercus maintains that the clearing of the estuary’s islands of shanty dwellings deemed illegal – although many of their occupants have paid rates and been on mains utility services for years – is “the only viable hypothesis for assuring the protection of the lagoon’s ecosystem”.

“The barrier islands of Ria Formosa are currently at risk due to the predicted effects of climate change,” it adds.

Although demolitions have seen families forced to sleep rough on the streets of Olhão, Quercus claims the barrier islands must be returned to their natural state to “defend people and property from the increasing likelihood of catastrophic events of a natural origin”.

Quercus’ stand follows that of fellow-environmental NGO Almargem which has called for the suspension of the ongoing demolitions due to what it calls “environmental illegalities and the social injustices that are being created” in sending so many low-income families to an increasingly uncertain future.

“Environmental illegalities” cited by Almargem involve the covering of the islands with builders rubble – much of which contains potentially-carcinogenic asbestos.

Other ‘anomalies’ include bulldozing “modest homes, while leaving 2-3-storey buildings standing”.

Last week, PCP MP Paulo Sá reiterated a previous warning that the demolitions had less to do with protecting the environment than clearing the way for high-quality tourist infrastructures in the future (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/%E2%80%9Ccautionary-clause%E2%80%9D-hints-at-%E2%80%9Chidden-agenda%E2%80%9D-in-ongoing-ria-formosa-demolitions)

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Photo by Zé Amaro – Facebook