Ria de Alvor: Pioneer decision in Portugal stands up for nature
By Rebecca Langer, Fri, 11/04/2014 - 09:08
A landmark decision has taken place in courts in Portugal as the Central Administrative Court South upheld the conviction of the owners of Quinta da Rocha requiring them to restore habitats that were destroyed because of their development in the Ria de Alvor. The company Aprígio Santos is now obliged, within six months to submit a plan for the full replacement of destroyed habitats in accordance with environmental law to ICNF (Nature and Forest Conservation National Institute). This kind of sentence is a great achievement as it is rarely applied by law but is one of the only effective measures in place to prevent illegal construction in protected areas. After construction, full restoration of the ecosystem values is often completely destroyed and irreparable.
The Ria de Alvor Monitoring Group, which includes national Portuguese NGOs, expects that such sentences will be increasingly applied to these cases and is encouraging civil society to fight for a law that is more effective so that no more valuable habitats are destroyed.
At a time when the Minister for Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy has affirmed the need to strengthen measures for coastal protection in terms of spatial planning, the Ria de Alvor will now have a new opportunity to find other models of economic development whose legacy is not just concrete and easy profit. Life for the local population can be newly developed in a truly sustainable way that brings about a prosperous regional economy.