Battling residents surrounded by hundreds of hectares of water-guzzling avocado monocultures have started a new campaign aimed at prosecuting the companies sucking underground aquifers dry.
The GoFundMe campaign seeks to raise €8000 to pay for legal representation.
As the text explains “our ecosystem here is being destroyed”.
Every day millions of litres of water are being pumped out of the ground in and around rural Barão de São João to feed 50,000 avocado trees planted over 200 hectares.
The projects bypassed the need for environmental impact assessments by building up slowly.
The Resident began following the citizens’ movement calling for ‘help’ and ‘good sense’, to discover that authorities were actually turning a blind eye to illegalities ongoing in plain sight (click here).
Protected species were being felled and destroyed. There was even a day when representatives of the CCDR turned up to witness work ongoing during an ‘embargo’ they had imposed themselves, and drove on by.
“It was surreal!”say veteran campaigners who provided photographic evidence.
Repeated calls to Lagos town hall for a ‘round-table discussion’ with the companies in charge of the plantations have led nowhere.
Thus, the fight that started almost six years ago is finally upping the ante.
“What will happen if one day we run out of water?” is the overriding question. This is a neighbourhood with dozens of smallholdings all dependent on boreholes and wells that now regularly dry up in the summer months.
Said the group: “We must be given the chance to ensure a sustainable future for all of us and future generations. We cannot count on the authorities to implement our goals so we have created a non-profit association called Regenerarte, standing for the ‘association for the protection and regeneration of ecosystems’. This way we hope we will have more of an impact on responsible public departments as well as in a future law case, if things go that way”.
Says the campaign’s text: “every euro counts so that we can make a difference and fight for a healthy ecosystem and become a successful example of a community which stands up for its rights against profit-oriented companies that are breaking laws and either corrupting or threatening the authorities and citizens to increase their profits”.
The companies involved have always assured the Resident they are acting within their rights.
The truth however is that countless embargos have been flouted; not to mention citizens ‘threatened’ for speaking out.
Quite apart from the fears of losing underground water for local use, residents are concerned by the degree of pesticides used on the plantations.
Tests undertaken have flagged levels of glyphosate – the ‘weed killer linked to incidences of cancer’ – in areas around the monocultures are 50 times more than maximums recommended by the EU (click here).
And as the people behind Regenerarte stress, these huge monocultures have been planted in areas that “are already suffering from other implementations such as golf courses which cause deforestation and high water consumption”.
“Our soil is dry and hard”, the campaign text concludes. “Our aquifer which is meant to keep our ecosystem alive and to provide water for farmers and private households is getting lower and lower every minute…”
Says the bottom line: “Please help us to stop the destruction of nature by donating to this cause!”
To access the campaign, click here.
To join the group’s Facebook page, click here