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    Latest news

  • 04.04.01 : Portugal: Alqueva Dam: Over 1 million trees are to be cut down, and hundreds of people are being displaced.
  • 03.04.01 : Energy giant wins award for wetland creation
  • 02.04.01 : Expert on water re-use wins international environment award
  • 31.03.01 : C'est notre Rhône ! ... contre la privatisation de l'eau ...
  • 30.03.01 : Turkish environmentalist jailed upholding supreme court ruling
  • 29.03.01 : "Water for People and Nature: a Forum on Conservation and Human Rights" - 5-8 July 2001 in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.
  • 29.03.01 : "Challenges of a Changing Earth" Conference - 10-13 July 2001 in Amsterdam.
  • 28.03.01 : WHO ( World Health Organisation) calls for health sector to become involved in water management
  • 27.03.01: NGO invests in Balfour Beatty (building company) shares to prevent Ilisu Dam project
  • 26.03.01 : UK : Environment Agency calls for greater water resources for the future
  • 19.03.01 : Water Symposium : New edition in Luzern (Switzerland) on July 15th 2001

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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 ears.

Only URGENT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE can now stop this disaster.

Please read the press release below, and send messages of protest to the following, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres at: (fax: +351 21 395 1616)
The dam developers;
The European Commission

Thank you


PS. See also article in The Guardian (Society section) on February 21 2001 ( 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..



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 oaks.

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 Portugal'.

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 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.'

03.04.01 : 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 :

02.04.01 : 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 :

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 :

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 military. (ENS)

For full text and graphics visit:

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

Cet information est disponible en francais au site Web:

Para obtener información en español, tenga a bien visitar el sitio Web:

If you require fax, e-mail, or paper registration forms, e-mail me at, 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

Thank you,
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 Research Programme.

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 people’s health, and states that it can no longer be left to water management authorities or environment ministries.

For full article :

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 :
Visit also

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 :

19.03.01 : Water Symposium : New edition in Luzern (Switzerland) on July 15th 2001

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 15th.

Information (in German) under :

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