Zero predicts environmental disaster in the lower Alentejo area
The lower Alentejo area is the subject of a dire warning from the environmental association, Zero, which warns of looming disaster from 200,000 hectares of intensive crops, threatening the environment and endangering health.
Zero has picked up on the expansion of the water supply for crop irrigation that will facilitate an increase in productive agricultural area beyond those already planned in the Alqueva project, in particular new areas in Alto Sado and Alto Alentejo.
The association claims that nobody has assessed the capacity of the water system to withstand climate change and drought, an increase in average temperatures, lower rainfall leading to lower water availability and a lower recharging rate for underground aquifers.
Zero also warns that the replacement of traditional olive and almond trees with water hungry crops will present risk for farmers who will become dependent on water-thirsty crops.
“In a region where the phenomenon of desertification takes on great importance, ZERO demands the monitoring and inspection of new and existing crops, promoting soil conservation in view of the effects of erosion that some practices can enhance, as well as the risk of salinisation associated with irrigation water quality,” states the organisation.
The Portuguese Environmental Agency for the Alentejo Hydrographic Region should act to prevent the destruction of water lines, an important structure of the ecological network of the region, which currently are being treated as mere drainage ditches with marginal vegetation destroyed or damaged.
CIMBAL – the lower Alentejo Council organisation has talked to the Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, who was on a visit with the Secretaries of State for Internal Administration (Isabel Oneto), Civil Protection (José Artur Neves) and Local Authorities (Carlos Miguel).
This working session looked at Civil Protection regarding fire prevention rather than agriculture and decided to return in may to talk about shifting firefighting resources to local councils.
In the field of security, the suits discussed the growing seasonal population, composed of migrants from diverse origins, who settle in the territory.