Readers Letters – December ’22

We are always really pleased to get letters from our readers. If you would like to send us your views on anything that’s going on in the Algarve or if you have any suggestions to make about the magazine please email:

Dear Editor,

As if it wasn’t enough to have huge areas of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste e Costa Alentejana covered by greenhouses and monocultures for the sake of ‘food production’, now the areas in Rede Natura 2000 are being brutally cleared for the sake of ‘fire prevention’.

The clearing of a stretch of 50 m on each side of the municipal roads of the district of Odemira was approved in 2017 by the Câmara Municipal de Odemira (Town Council) and its financing was assured by the Council and the European Union. The clearing work began five years later, in October 2022.

The law states 10 m on each side of the road and the owners have the right to question or even refuse these works if they wish so, particularly if some protected or endangered species or habitats are put in danger.

I went to see with my own eyes what exactly was going on and the scenario was simply devastating.

Among the losses, was a beautiful and well-established riparian habitat (a protected area by law) that got randomly crossed over by a bulldozer. Water lines are rich ecological systems and a protective component of river water quality and diversity; they are naturally moist, working as a natural barrier in the occurrence of a fire. Only a few hours were needed to destroy this fully natural array of autochthonous species that took decades to reach its maturity.

A little ahead, a large area of strawberry trees (medronheiros), with fruits ready for harvest, was also bulldozered. A species that, just like cork oak trees (sobreiros), is naturally resistant to fire and encouraged (and subsidised by the government) to plant as fire prevention. Not to mention the economic value for 

generations to come. Where is the fire protection effectiveness of this forest clearing?

Destroying all ground vegetation increases erosion – less water is retained and instead just gets flushed away – accelerating the desertification process and making the land more prone to fires.

Strawberry trees and cork oak trees are known for being well adapted to dry climates, surviving without much water, being resistant to fire and recovering quickly after getting burned, so instead of being cut, they should be planted.

And why are we clearing native forests with high values whilst letting eucalyptus plantations increase?

In our ecosystem, the eucalyptus is an introduced species, not a native one. Here, fires help spread eucalyptus by clearing out native species. Native species like oaks, strawberry trees and laurels are more resistant to fires, but eucalyptus trees burn faster and hotter, making wildfires harder to control. Eucalyptus also spreads fast and sucks water from the soil, depriving other plants and drying out the ecosystem – making it more vulnerable to wildfires.

Instead of taking a quick money-return approach that allows for intense monoculture plantations of non-native and water-intensive species that deeply depletes and dries the soil, politics should be prioritising and protecting native species, their habitats, and ecosystems. Fire protection measures are of great importance but shouldn’t be destructive to ecosystems. On the contrary, they should be beneficial to them, especially in nature-protected areas.

Leonor Arenga

Michel de Kok

Dear Tom,

We would like to make known the immense support Tomorrow magazine give us at the Mustard Seed soup kitchen. It’s a very special ongoing contribution from you all, which means a lot to us. We also wish to express our gratitude to Dennis Teixeira from DT property management, who rebuilt and renewed everything for free. They worked many times and days out of working hours, all his team absolutely amazing 

Thank you for everything. 


Dear Editor,

I was reminded by the Lazy Girls in the November edition that it was time to make my Christmas cake! This weekend I had a ‘stir-up Sunday’ with my daughter and granddaughters. We baked the cake ready to ‘feed’ with Brandy on the run-up to Christmas. However, I still refer to my Delia Smith cookbook that I have been using since the 1970’s! We found glacé cherries and a dry fruit mix and peel at the Overseas supermarket in Portimão. I added nuts to the recipe, which we always feel adds a bit more bite and we used black treacle and brown sugar (also from the overseas supermarket). 

I would recommend to your readers wrapping brown paper around the tin and two layers of greaseproof to the top of the cake to stop it from drying out.

Ours smelt delicious. Let’s hope it tastes as good.

Happy Christmas!

Sue Hollow


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