GLAND, Switzerland and
LISBON, Portugal, June 1, 2004, GreenBiz.com:
World Wildlife Fund and its partner BioRegional have launched a
large-scale tourism development in Portugal.
The development is part of an overall project that covers an area
of 5,300 hectares and brings together sustainable housing, nature
conservation, reforestation and ecofriendly transport. Work will
begin over the next few months on the 6,000-house, €1billion
(US$1.223 billion) scheme in Mata de Sesimbra, just south of Lisbon.
The development, which replaces a proposal to build a conventional
tourist resort, will be completely powered by renewable energy,
dramatically reduce waste to landfill — to just 5 percent
of the Portuguese national average — and use rainwater collection
and waste water recycling systems to achieve huge cuts in domestic
water consumption and irrigation.
Furthermore, more than half the food served in tourist facilities
will come from local sources.
There are also plans to create a sustainable transport network,
featuring ,for example, shared and non-petrol vehicles and a cycle
route encompassing the entire site. The aim is to eliminate the
need for private cars in the area.
The project includes a 4,800-hectare nature reserve in which habitat
corridors, linking surrounding protected areas will create safe
havens for vulnerable nesting birds such as Bonelli's eagle.
The site will also be home to one of Europe's biggest privately
financed forest restoration projects which aims to recreate native
indigenous woodland — mainly cork oak and umbrella pine —
replacing the existing eucalyptus and non native pine forest.
According to WWF, over the next 20 years tourism in the Mediterranean
will rise by 50 percent to an estimated 350 million people visiting
the region each year.
"Tourism is eating into our natural capital. It can often
have a very negative impact on the environment, " said Dr Claude
Martin. "New models such as Mata de Sesimbra are vital if tourism
is to go hand in hand with sustainable development."