Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!

Browse Old Articles


Vast, unnecessary hotel complex to destroy Portugal’s wetland paradise

02/07/2012 13:18:14

Glossy ibis on Salgados. The lagoon is threatened by a vast new luxury hotel development

Portugal gives go-ahead to destroy internationally recognized unique coastal lagoon and bird sanctuary on Algarve coast.

July 2012. With current hotel occupancy standing at just 55% the Portuguese Government has disgracefully given permission for yet more - and, what's worse, the development threatens the last coastal lagoon along the south coast.

The RSPB and SPEA, (the Portuguese equivalent), have been fighting a ten year battle to save the area, Salgados, (or "Pera Marsh" as it's known to many birdwatchers), and for it to be given named as an SPA, (a site of special protection status); inexplicably this has never been granted.

Vast luxury development panned
Instead the Government has given Finalgarve, (part of Grupo Gallilei, a company currently before a Parliamentary Commission for corruption), permission to develop an area of 359 hectares, (887 acres), right next door to this unique habitat. 

Avocets on the threatened Salgados Lagoon.

Avocets on the threatened Salgados Lagoon.

Insufficient funds & corruption
Included in the plan are three new hotels and a golf course, along with myriad villas and shops etc. However, with not enough funds to pay the fines being levelled on it for its past corruption, Finalgarve have let it be known that they do not have the money necessary for construction and are appealing for investors worldwide. 

Last surviving lagoon
Before tourism came to the Algarve in the 1970's there were several lagoons similar to Salgados along this coastline and they were used as migratory fuelling stops, over-wintering sites and breeding habitat for many bird species, but all the other lagoons have now been "gentrified" out of existence and Salgados is the last one left. 

Standing half-way between two of the Algarve's most urbanised areas, Albufeira and Armação de Pera, Salgados has always been under extreme threat and severe pressure for many years but the proposed development of the area surrounding it may well prove to be the last nail in the coffin. 

Water misuse
With a low-lying golf course bordering its eastern edge, the dune protecting the lagoon from the sea has been illegally breached whenever the course was in danger of becoming flooded. Conversely, right now, after one of the driest winters on record, water is in short supply, so the water feeding the lagoon is being diverted to keep this course green; the lagoon is now 1 metre lower than usual and is dropping 4 cm every week. Breeding success this year has been severely affected again and many of the resident species have disappeared from the lagoon already.

With the proposed development bringing even more pressure upon this unique area, the lagoon will simply disappear and be lost for ever, and there is widespread international indignation that the Government, currently promoting Nature-based tourism, should let this happen.

Sign the petition

There has been an on-line petition set up to persuade the Government to change its mind, rescind the permission and grant SPA status in order to preserve this habitat for future generations. You are urged to sign it here and to share it on Facebook and Twitter. 

Flamingos frequent Salgados.


Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

To post a comment you must be logged in.

New user? Register here


Click join and we will email you with your password. You can then sign on and join the discussions right away.