04.04.01 : Portugal: Alqueva
Dam: Over 1 million trees are to be cut down, and hundreds of people
are being displaced.
Please help us to stop one of the biggest deforestation
and dam-building projects ever seen.
The Alqueva dam in Portugal will destroy one of Europe's
richest wildlife habitats, and help push the Iberian Lynx (the world's
most endangered big cat) to extinction.
Over 1 million trees are to be cut down, and
hundreds of people are being displaced.
There is no economic justification for the dam
- except for the large agribusiness interests buying up land in the
area, and new golf and tourist complexes in the pipeline.
The area is a unique ecosystem, and home to
endangered eagles, wild cats, genets, Egyptian mongoose, as well as
endemic fish and plant species.
Efforts by Portuguese environmental groups even
to minimise the devastating ecological impacts have fallen on deaf
Only URGENT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE can now stop this
Please read the press release below, and send messages
of protest to the following, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres
+351 21 395 1616)
The dam developers; firstname.lastname@example.org
The European Commission email@example.com
SOS LYNX (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PS. See also article in The Guardian (Society section)
on February 21 2001 (www.guardian.co.uk). This is the only article
that has appeared in the international media about this issue!
PPS. Please distribute this alert AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE.
It is not too late to stop the slaughter..
EUROPE'S BIGGEST DAM WILL PUSH ENDANGERED LYNX TOWARDS
Conservationists are calling for an immediate suspension
of one of the biggest deforestation programmes ever seen.
They say that the operation to fell over 1 million
trees in eastern Portugal to make way for Europe's biggest dam - which
began last week - could provoke a 'wildlife disaster'.
The Vale do Guadiana region of Portugal, where the
GB pounds 1 billion Alqueva dam is being built, is home to some of
the world's rarest wildlife including the Iberian Lynx, officially
the world's most endangered big cat.
The Alqueva project - which includes 10 dams in all,
3,000 miles of irrigation canals and dozens of new roads, bridges
and pumping stations - is being funded by EU taxpayers.
Hundreds of people will be displaced, and unique archaeological
finds dating back to the Neolithic era will be permanently inundated.
Last Thursday (February 22) teams of men began the
mammoth task of felling all the trees in the 160 square mile area
that will be occupied by the new reservoir in an operation that will
take until early next year to complete. Many of them are old-growth
The nesting trees and hunting grounds of Portugal's
only pair of Golden Eagles will be destroyed, as will that of two
pairs of the threatened Bonelli's Eagle. Ten per cent of the country's
rare black storks will be made homeless.
The Vale do Guadiana region is also home to Portugal's
third most important nucleus of the Iberian Lynx, which faces the
serious threat of extinction. There are just five nuclei in Portugal,
with a total population of between 40-53 of these unique big cats
that live only in the Iberian Peninsula.
According to Miguel Pais, of the Iberian Birdlife
Study Centre (CEAI): 'The clearances will be a veritable nuclear bomb.
A lot of animals will die, and others will be left without their territory.'
A report by the country's official conservation agency,
the ICN, indicates that part of the area being cleared may be permanently
inhabited by lynx, and that the network of new irrigation canals could
disrupt vital 'habitat corridors'.
The environmental impact assessment carried out for
the EU by Irish consultants ESB International also warns that the
project could have a devastating impact. 'Animals will lose their
habitats by flooding the area of the reservoir and by alteration of
the living conditions in the irrigation zone.'
It adds that wildlife habitats 'will be fragmented
by the reservoir, the irrigation channels and new roads', concluding
that 'this project will bring some species closer to extinction within
The report also warns of the wider impact on threatened
species endemic to the region. The new irrigation channels alone,
it says, 'will represent obstacles which cannot be crossed' with the
result that there 'will be an isolation of populations which can lead
to a decrease in the genetic diversity'. It concludes that this 'may
lead to the extinction of some species.'
The Portuguese government's official report into the
status of the lynx says that the valley to be flooded is one of just
14 areas in the country where the animal is thought to still survive.
It classifies the valley as the 'Alcarrache-Guadelim' lynx habitat,
detailing some of the recent sightings of this shy and mainly nocturnal
animal by local inhabitants.
The report goes on to say that the Vale do Guadiana
region could be home to up to 13 per cent of the total Portuguese
lynx population, and that it uses a network of local tributaries to
find mates during the breeding season. These may now be affected by
the Alqueva project.
Calls by Portuguese environmental groups to reduce
the scale of the project have been flatly refused by the government
and EDIA, the consortium contracted to carry out the works. The Portuguese
Nature Protection League (LPN) says that if the dam were filled to
139 metres, instead of the projected 152 metres, than it would be
possible to save half the trees and wildlife habitats.
Miguel Pais, of CEAI, said: 'This is one of the country's
richest biological areas. Alqueva will be a catastrophe. There is
no operation to save these species.' Joao Joanaz de Melo of GEOTA,
another Portuguese conservation group campaigning against the dam,
added that it was vital 'to preserve these ecosystems that are unique
to the Iberian Peninsula'.
SOS Lynx, a new group formed to monitor the plight
of the Iberian Lynx, says the dam contravenes Article 6 of the EU
Habitats Directive which specifically prohibits the destruction or
deterioration of habitats of protected species, such as the lynx.
It says that the European Commission's decision earlier this month
to stop development of a site in Germany inhabited by a protected
hamster species sets an important precedent. The ICN report says that
the 80 square mile Alcarrache-Guadelim valley (which is being cleared)
has excellent lynx habitat attributes. SOS Lynx also points out that
February is the month when lynx are most likely to mate or give birth,
usually in old-growth oak trees.
SOS Lynx further points out that in November 2000,
the European Court of Justice ruled that EU member states could not
take 'economic considerations' into account when deciding whether
or not to nominate sites for wildlife protection under the EU's Habitats
Directive. Groups including WWF have consistently maintained that
the Vale do Guadiana region should have been included under the EU's
Natura 2000 network of protected wildlife areas. SOS Lynx is now calling
for an immediate moratorium on the clearances until a meeting of EU
experts at the Mediterranean Biogeographic Seminar this May to assess
the dam's impact. It also called on the EU to suspend funds for the
construction of the irrigation canals (which is the major part of
the project funded by the EU, and which will take 25 years to complete)
until a full evaluation of the project's impact on the lynx is completed.
The stated purpose of the dam is irrigation for intensive
agriculture. However, many believe that the region's thin and poor
soils are unsuited to such cultivation, and that the real purpose
will be to water some of the 48 new golf courses planned for the neighbouring
Algarve (there are presently 25) and for new tourist complexes which
critics say will be built on the 460 new islands that will be created
within the Alqueva reservoir area. The existing irrigation network
in the region is used at less than 50 per cent capacity.
It is not only a unique natural heritage that is at
risk. Recent archaeological excavations have unearthed one of the
earliest known sites of human settlement in the area. Researchers
have uncovered tools from the Bronze Age, Neolithic era ovens, and
an entire Roman castle. These will all disappear underwater if the
dam goes ahead. In the 1990s, international protest stopped another
controversial dam in Portugal, at Foz Coa, when Stone Age engravings
were discovered in caves that were to have been inundated.
Next summer, hundreds of people from the Aldeia da
Luz village will be moved into a new settlement when their existing
homes will be flooded by the dam. Local inhabitants, however, say
they have been given little choice but to abandon their homes.
For more information, send an email to email@example.com
or contact LPN (lead Portuguese NGO on anti-dam coalition) on +351
21 778 0097.
Background information on Alqueva can be found at:
further notes on Alqueva:
1. The Vale do Guadiana lynx population connects with
the western end of the Spanish Sierra Morena lynx nucleus. The survival
of the Portuguese lynx is largely dependent on young lynx dispersing
from Spain and establishing their territory across the border. The
major cause of mortality of young lynx is road accidents. However,
the Alqueva project includes a number of new roads in the area. There
is also a 'reproduction' zone within the Vale do Guadiana population
at Sobral de Adica, but this may also now become cut off as a result
of new irrigation canals and roads being built as part of the project.
2. The total population of the Iberian Lynx in Spain
and Portugal is believed to be approximately 500. In 1992, the figure
was 1300. Some experts believe the species could become extinct within
the next 10 years. Researchers from Portugal's Terrestrial Vertebrates
Study Group (GEVT) believe the Vale do Guadiana may in fact harbour
Portugal's largest lynx population which has gone mostly undetected.
Researchers from another Portuguese institute (FAPAS) say that another
important lynx nucleus at Sao Mamede will also be affected by the
Alqueva project. Furthermore, there has been no assessment of what
impact Alqueva may have on the Vale do Sado lynx population. Alqueva
will affect the course of both the Guadiana and Sado rivers, two of
Portugal's biggest water courses, transferring 500 billion litres
a year between their two basins. Rivers and tributaries are often
used as 'corridors' by lynx between one nucleus to another, and are
particularly important for genetic exchange between different nuclei
(reducing genetic diversity is currently increasing disease and lowering
fertility among lynx groups). The other two lynx nuclei in Portugal
are Malcata and Algarve-Odemira.
3. The environmental impact assessment by ESB International
was conducted in 1996, and makes no estimates of the local lynx population
numbers. The Portuguese government/ICN study into the status of the
lynx was carried out in 1998, and estimates that between 4-7 lynx
inhabit the Vale do Guadiana area, where the dam is being built. Sources
inside the European Commission say the ICN report is 'not in our Alqueva
file'. The Portuguese government/ICN report was, however, funded under
the EU's 'LIFE Programme'.
4. The majority of trees being felled are old-growth
holm and cork oaks. (Other trees include olive and eucalyptus.) The
hollows of cork and holm oaks are usually used by female lynxes to
rear their young. Lynx mating cycles can easily be disrupted by human
perturbance. The lynx mating season is from December to February.
The birthing season is from February to April. February is therefore
a key month for the lynx if it is to survive as a species, and a worse
month could not have been chosen to commence the clearances.
5. The Alqueva dam was originally planned by Portuguese
fascist dictator Antonio Salazar in the 1950s to supply and power
a 'new industrial city'. The city has never been built. The building
of the dam has been repeatedly delayed because of successive controversies,
the most recent of which being the discovery that the dam wall is
being built on a seismic fault-line.
6. Recently, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
called for an international moratorium on all mega-dams of over 100
metres because of the threat to unique river systems. The Alqueva
dam will be 152 metres high. At least one species of unique fish is
expected to become extinct in the short-term as a result of Alqueva.
7. A previous WWF assessment of the Alqueva dam concluded
that 'the existing irrigation system is inefficient and needs repair
and upgrading. In any case, it is only used at 50 per cent of existing
capacity... The 152 metres full storage capacity is hugely over-designed
and will cause irreversible destruction... The whole area is seen
as having the necessary characteristics for potential designation
under the Natura 2000 network.'
Energy giant wins award for wetland creation
A Texas-based energy and telecommunications giant
has been honoured for its programme of creating wetlands on reclaimed
open-cast mining land.
For full article : http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/4036.cfm
Expert on water re-use wins international environment award
A Japanese-born water engineer has won the US$150,000, 2001 Stockholm
Water Prize for his outstanding contributions to the efficient use
of water through wastewater reuse, recycling and reclamation.
For full article : http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/4043.cfm
31.03.01 : C'est notre Rhône
Un collectif s'est mis en place contre le projet de
privatisation de la production hydroélectrique dans le pays
rhodanien. De fait il s' agit tout autant d'électricité
que d'environnement, d'emplois que d' eau potable. Vous pouvez agir.
Le 24 février 2001 une coordination des Attac
de la vallée du Rhône occupait 5 barrages et recueillait
4000 signatures pour une pétition demandant l'arrêt du
processus de privatisation rampante de la Compagnie Nationale du Rhône
(C.N.R.). Aujourd'hui, malgré les semaines de grève
d'une intersyndicale très mobilisée à la fin
2000 sur le seul sujet de la préservation d'un bien public,
le Rhône, et de sa ré appropriation par les citoyens
concernés nous apprenons que le décret cédant
une partie du capital de cet établissement est de nouveau en
passe d'être signé.
Pour plus d'information : http://attac.org/attacinfo/attacinfo223.pdf
30.03.01 : Turkish environmentalist
jailed upholding supreme court ruling
By Jon Gorvett - The leader of one of Turkey's longest
running environmental campaigns was jailed for a year and a half this
week under the country's tough anti-protest laws written by the Turkish
For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/mar2001/2001L-03-30-02.html
29.03.01 : "Water for
People and Nature: a Forum on Conservation and Human Rights"
- 5-8 July 2001 in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.
The conference "Water for People and Nature:
a Forum on Conservation and Human Rights" is to be held July
5 to 8, 2001 in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.
"Water for People and Nature" will be the
largest international forum ever organized by civil society that empowers
activists, experts, and community leaders to address the water crisis
caused by privatization, deregulation and trade of our fresh water.
The forum is organized by The Council of Canadians,
with the support of a broad coalition of groups that are helping to
set an agenda that meets the needs of groups and activists, like you,
around the world.
All the information you need can be found on the Blueplanet
websites listed below. YOU CAN REGISTER FOR THE FORUM ONLINE VIA THE
WEB SITE, in English, French or Spanish. English http://www.canadians.org/blueplanet/index2.html
Cet information est disponible en francais au site
Para obtener información en español,
tenga a bien visitar el sitio Web: http://www.canadians.org/blueplanet/conf-2001-s.html
If you require fax, e-mail, or paper registration
forms, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or fax or phone me at The Council of Canadians BC Organizing Office.
A limited travel subsidy will be available through
a separate application that will be available on the English, French
and Spanish websites for the Blueplanet forum. Or if you require,
when the subsidy application is available I can send you a copy via
email, fax or post.
You can obtain copies of our Water for People and
Nature brochure by phoning the Council of Canadians national office
toll free within Canada at 1-800-387-7177 ext. 400, or from outside
Canada at 00 1-613-233-4487 ext. 400. Leave a detailed message including
your name, address, and phone number, and how many copies you require.
And, you can contact me at 604-688-8846 or by email
Peter Coombes Conference Organizer
The Council of Canadians British Columbia Organizing
Office 700 - 207 West Hastings Street Vancouver BC V6B 1H7 604.688.8846
toll free 888.566.3888 fax 604.688.5756
29.03.01 : "Challenges
of a Changing Earth" Conference - 10-13 July 2001 in Amsterdam.
A special session on Integrated Water Resources Management
will be included in the Conference "Challenges of a Changing
Earth" which will take place from 10-13 July 2001 in Amsterdam.
The Conference will be jointly held by the three major global change
programmes IGBP, IHDP and WCRP (*).
This session will combine presentations from science, NGOs, private
sector, governmental organizations and other institutions, integrating
a wide range of disciplines and regional experiences. This conference
promises to present an exciting integrated view of
current global change and sustainability issues, synthesizing past
achievements and presenting the new challenges ahead.
For further information :
(*) IGBP - International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
; IHDP - International Human Dimensions Programm ; WCRP - World Climate
28.03.01 : WHO calls for health
sector to become involved in water management
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for
those involved in water management to have greater responsibility
for their effects on peoples health, and states that it can
no longer be left to water management authorities or environment ministries.
For full article : http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/3994.cfm
27.03.01: NGO invests in Balfour
Beatty (building company) shares to prevent Ilisu Dam project
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has announced that it has
invested in shares in the UK construction giant, Balfour Beatty, in
order to make a resolution challenging the proposed controversial
Ilisu Dam project in Turkey.
For full article : http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/3993.cfm
26.03.01 : UK :Environment
Agency calls for greater water resources for the future
The Environment Agency is calling for the development
of more water resources in order to prepare for future increases in
demand and for the effects of climate change, in its new strategy
on water resources.
Full article under : http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/4015.cfm
Water Symposium : New edition in Luzern (Switzerland) on July 15th
Due to the great success of the 1st edition that took
place on March 18th, a new edition will take place in Luzern on July
Information (in German) under : http://www.wasser-symposium.ch/html/programm.html