Environmentalists look to stop Algarve olive grove plantation


Almargem – an environmental association – has asked authorities to prevent a project from starting which would involve the plantation of an allegedly organic Algarve olive grove on protected land in Vale da Ribeira da Fonte da Benemola, in Querenca the Loule district.

According to a statement from the association, a large number of olive trees would be planted on a piece of land that is part of the REN National Ecological Reserve. This land in turn, is above the deepest part of one of the region’s largest underground water reserves – the Querenca-Silves aquifer.

The association’s concern is that the project is wrongly labeled as being ‘organic’ – considering the presumable use of agro-chemical products and intensive water consumption – and that it might also serve as guise for a tourism project that has been on hold in recent years.

The environmentalists fear that this might be a test-run for something else to follow, saying that land-clearing work has already begun but was stopped by GNR police when local property owners complained.

The association continued to make its case saying that the destruction of legally protected scrubland – especially where there are juniper shrubs present – as well as of landscape characteristic to rural Algarve is plain to see. They’ve also criticized the ‘ungracious’ attitude of those entities who allowed for the project to go ahead.

Despite the somewhat alarmist and arguable assumptions that the Almargem association makes, what it is asking for is for full clarification of the situation from the authorities in charge and for these same authorities to embargo the project as well as obliging the project’s promoter to replace things as they were before the land clearing started. Whilst there is really nothing wrong with the first request, the second one seems a bit of an overreach, but environmentally minded associations aren’t always the most reasonable of entities when it comes to protecting nature, so it doesn’t really come as a shock.