Lagoa dos Salgados development halted, for now
January 2013. An on-line petition that has gathered 21,000 international signatures has stopped a mega-tourist complex from destroying a unique wetland bird sanctuary in southern Portugal. The bird sanctuary, Lagoa dos Salgados, has been given a last minute reprieve while an Environmental Impact Assessment is carried out.
Despite this unique coastal lagoon being of prime importance to many breeding, over-wintering or passage species and despite being internationally recognised as a bird watching hotspot that brings in many hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars every year - as well as being a study area for schools and universities throughout Europe - it has never had any official protection, and has been threatened with development throughout the last 15 years.
Huge hotel complex
This threat was dramatically highlighted six months ago with the grant of building permission over an area of 247 hectares, (more than 600 acres), bordering the lagoon. The building permission allowed for a luxury mega-tourist complex of hotels, resorts, and golf courses that were scheduled to break ground in April 2013, but the developers had used loop-holes to sidestep regulations and steam-roller through the permission.
This was enough to galvanize local feeling and an on-line petition was started by a local bird watching guide, Frank McClintock, to provide a voice for those opposed to the plan and to highlight the continuing lack of any protection for the lagoon's unique habitat.