European Union ‘development’ ruins wildlife in Portugal

This is a Bonelli’s eagle video.

From the BBC:

More than half Portugal‘s wildlife has come under threat of extinction since the country joined the European Union 20 years ago – and massive redevelopment made possible by EU cash is at least partly to blame, environmental groups have told the BBC.

The Portuguese Institute of Nature Conservation‘s list of all the species either in grave danger or on the brink of extinction amounts to nearly half of the country’s wildlife. …

Mr Goncalves describes the formerly lush and rural areas of the Algarve in the south of the country as “essentially a green desert,” and believes there is a “very direct link” between the buildings and new towns and habitat loss and fragmentation.

The mountains above what is now a massive tourist area were once one of the most biologically rich areas of Portugal, home to the Iberian lynx; – the world’s most endangered big cat – as well as Iberian and Bonelli’s eagles [see also here].

“The populations of these species now are literally just a few individuals each,” Mr Goncalves says.

“They’re not viable in the long term.”

Indeed, the group SOS Lynx believes that there are no resident lynx left in Portugal owing to a decline in rabbit populations.

This has been triggered by the introduction of foreign species – in particular, exotic eucalyptus, which was planted extensively in the 1960s as part of a get-rich-quick scheme.

The plant absorbs groundwater, depriving the area of grasses, which are food for the rabbits on which the lynx feed.

Marcial Felgueiras, director of environmental group A Rocha, says that studies indicate many types of butterflies have simply disappeared – such as swallowtails, red admiral and mallow skipper.

First sighting of Iberian lynx in Portugal since 2001: here.

Natura 2000 Day: the EU not protecting its richest nature sites properly: here.

8 thoughts on “European Union ‘development’ ruins wildlife in Portugal

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