Thursday, July 24, 2008

Salgados Meeting

Greater Flamingos over Salgados

The long-awaited official update from José Tavares (RSPB Country Programmes Officer for Portugal) about the progress on Lagoa dos Salgados has still not appeared.

On the 17th July I attended an on-site meeting at the lagoa together with Luís Costa (President of SPEA), Humberto Rosado (the new President of ICNB - Institute for Conservation of Nature and Biodiversity), João Ministro (Almargem - NGO environmental agency), Rui Eufrásia (Vigilante of Salgados IBA) together with a few other interested parties. The main purpose of this was to portray to ICNB the importance of giving SPA (Special Protection Area) status to this site in order to secure its future. This was the President of ICNB's first visit, he came away very impressed, and Luís Costa told me that he was now very optimistic that the lagoa would be given official protection the near future (at the moment is has none).

The SPEA and ICNB representatives were going on to a further meeting that afternoon with Aguas Algarve to discuss the water requirements which are going to be essential for the future of the wildlife there. The new ETAR (sewage treatment works) is due to be commissioned soon and this will be providing 'grey' water which has undergone tertiary treatment to remove harmful nitrates and phosphates as well as bio-toxins. This is more expensive than the current low level treatment provided by the existing and soon to be defunct ETAR and Aguas Algarve are looking to recover at least some of their costs be selling this water to adjacent golf courses for irrigation. The vital question now is who is going to pay for some of this water to be diverted into the lagoon to keep it topped up during the summer months.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lagoa dos Salgados 2008

A huge apology to all those who have visited this site in search of news on progress at Lagoa dos Salgados ("Pêra Marsh"). Although I am still monitoring the situation and am in contact with SPEA and RSPB on a regular basis, my attention and time have been diverted to what is also happening on my own doorstep at Ria de Alvor; I hope to begin a separate sequence of illustrated bulletins on the problems facing this locality (which, as well as being a RAMSAR Site, has become incorporated in the EU "Nature 2000" network since September 2006).

I met Aidan Lonergan (RSPB Director, Northern Ireland) in May this year while he was spending a month-long sabbatical over here with a brief to "look into" the options for the future preservation of the lagoon. Aidan spent his time well, met with most of the parties involved, and is of the firm opinion that this site MUST be saved. I was very impressed at how well he had grasped the many complexities of the situation in such a short space of time. Aidan is in the process of writing up a report on his visit and has vowed to return in the near future to assist with the move to preserve this site.

I have also recently been in contact with José Tavares (RSPB Country Programmes Officer for Portugal) who informs me that there has been a lot happening behind the scenes and that a full update is imminent. I will post that here as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, you might find it useful and informative to visit a new Portuguese birding forum "Fórum Aves" the site is in Portuguese and to access all the sections you need to register (which is free but not easy if you do not understand Portuguese!). Two of the sections, the Galeria (Photo-gallery) and Birds of Portugal in English (for which I act as Moderator) are available to view by visitors, but you cannot post a response unless you are a registered member; if anyone wants a translation of the registration process please let me know. But as a start, from the title page (linked above) select "Início", then select "Birds of Portugal (in English)" and you will find threads on Lagoa dos Salgados as well as Ria de Alvor in which I have linked to various missives, including articles in the local English weekly "The Algarve Resident".

As soon as I have more information I will distribute it.

Best wishes to all supporters,