Illegal avocado plantations consume water in drought-struck Algarve

Written By Manuel Poças

A report by CNN Portugal found that thousands of illegal avocado trees keep consuming scarce water in times of extreme drought in the Algarve.

Some regions of the Algarve are home to huge illegal avocado plantations, which were not approved by the environmental authorities. Normally, the evaluation of a project comes before its implementation. However, in this case, it was the opposite. The authorities only saw the plantations when it was too late.

The promise was to take them down. However, years go by and the trees are still there consuming excessively high amounts of water. The case is stalled in court, and nothing happens. Meanwhile, resources are misplaced naturally for something which is not natural.

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Because of their origin, avocado trees have a very water-demanding nature and very specific growing requirements. For this reason, they can be environmentally demanding. Algarve, which is nothing like the subtropical regions from where the tree originally comes from, does not have enough water to host productions like the ones that exist now.

There cannot be illegal avocado plantations, especially within the protected territory and, in one case, on top of a main water reserve of one of the driest regions. If nothing is done about this harsh ‘green gold’ rush, the equilibrium of available resources will be very damaged.

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