According to a recent statement by Environment Minister Assunção Cristas, the Portuguese Government is planning to abolish the country’s law on the National Ecological Reserve (REN). The REN, which was established through
Law 321/83, has been a vital tool in the conservation of natural resources (especially water and soil), connecting Natura 2000 sites, as well as in safeguarding essential services to a good management status and promoting the overall conservation of nature and biodiversity. As per article 1 of this law “the National Ecological Reserve is established, which integrates all areas essential to the ecological stability of the environment and the rational use of natural resources, with a view to proper planning”. Since 1983, several environmentally sensitive areas have been placed under the REN protective status.
According to environmental groups and the Green Party that have voiced outrage at the Government’s intention to “annihilate the regime of REN”, this piece of national legislation is treated as an obstacle to the unsustainable development model that is promoted in response to the economic crisis. In reaction, the Portuguese Confederation of Associations for the Protection of the Environment (CPADA) resigned from the REN National Commission.