Quercus puts Dona Ana fiasco among 2015’s “worst environmental facts”

The removal of Lagos’ Dona Ana beach’s “gold quality” flag – due to the sand replenishment programme led by universally vilified government agency Polis Litoral – has been named “one of the worst environmental facts of 2015” by environmental NGO Quercus.

Beach lovers and conservationists were left in shock earlier this year when Dona Ana was rendered “unrecognisable” by the channelling of sand onto what was once a small and picturesque beach, named “one of the most beautiful in the world” by Condé Nast Traveler magazine (click here).

Quercus removed its long-standing “gold quality” accolade, saying the work put Dona Ana’s environmental and scenic balance at risk.

The NGO had already condemned the project for jeopardising “highly diversified marine ecosystems” and being sanctioned without recourse to an environmental impact study (EIA) (click here).

Environmental agency APA has always belittled the claims, saying the work was “essential” to extend the beach and keep people away from cliffs – but as many pointed out, it would have been better to secure the cliffs, rather than destroy the beach.

Quercus’ list of environmental no-no’s for this year also names and shames pollution of the Tejo River, Portugal’s “unbalanced” recycling system, its “unsuccessful” forestation programme, new rules for the ‘Via Verde’ motorways and Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.

Also on the list is Portugal’s high number of forest fires, the announcement that glyphosate (a commonly used herbicide) can cause cancers, a lack of food for birds that feed off dead animals, the construction of a wind farm on protected land (Torre de Montecorvo), the death of endangered animals by poisoning and the risk of growing exotic species in Alqueva, Alentejo.

Was there anything that Quercus did like, you might ask? Positive environmental facts were billed as the new law putting charges on plastic bags at supermarkets, the recovery of endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, and the creation of citizens’ movements to protect the environment.

A new law regulating the use of residue in fertilisers, the international climate agreement achieved in Paris and the training of police dogs to detect poison were other areas where Quercus gave its thumbs up.