Authorities slam ‘true environmental attack’ after illegal felling of century-old pines at Loulé’s Ancão beach
The owner of a plot of land in Ancão, within in the territory of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, has been slated for cutting down “countless” pines, some of them centuries old, under the Municipal Plan for the Defense of the Forest against Fires.
To get authorization he lied, claiming that the trees he would cut down were decrepit and dry pines, but they were not, and the work was embargoed this Monday by the ICNF. Joaquim Castelão Rodrigues, ICNF regional director informed press that “the landowner claimed that he would cut decrepit and dry pines, but we learned that it is much more than that” and “yesterday [Monday] the work was embargoed”. In addition to cutting down healthy trees within the natural park, in an area estimated to reach 5 hectares, “there was intervention to the soil, destroying a habitat”, adds the official.
According to Castelão Rodrigues, “a lawsuit was filed and we have the field inspection team still assessing the extent and number of trees actually felled, in order to impose a possible fine”. In addition, “we are looking to see if there are any mitigation measures that can be taken and what those are.”
The Municipality of Loulé, which has already come out to voice their repudiation at the felling of trees on the grounds by Ancão, agrees with this need and, in a statement sent to newsrooms, guarantees that “regardless of the measures that may be determined by the ICNF, the Municipality of Loulé will contact the owner demanding, as a mitigating measure, the immediate replanting of specimens of identical size, in all areas affected by the intervention”.
The residents of the area, who denounced the situation, raised the possibility of this felling of trees to allow for construction, in that place, of houses with a privileged seaside view, but the Câmara de Loulé guarantees that the cutting “was not carried out under any urban planning operation, subject to prior control” of the municipality.
The municipality also guarantees that “on the land in question is not, at this moment, nor has it been in the recent past, any application for the licensing of any urban operation under consideration in this municipality”. This means that any construction the owner would have done on the site would have been illegal.
For the municipality, led by Vítor Aleixo, the intervention carried out with massive and indiscriminate cutting of countless old pines and other large healthy trees, covered by “cleaning work”, constitutes “a true environmental attack that cannot go unpunished”.