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The Secretary of State for Forests admits to improving the co-management model of protected areas

The Secretary of State for the Conservation of Nature and Forests, João Paulo Catarino, admitted this Friday the need to improve the co-management model of protected areas.

“What has come to us from some of the co-management committees where there are, essentially, several municipalities, (…) is that we should have a person in charge to whom the co-management committee could delegate some of the responsibilities to streamline the decision-making process“João Paulo Catarino told journalists.

The minister was speaking after the co-management protocol signing session with the Environmental Fund, the Association for the Development of Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (ADSAICA) and the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park (PNSAC), at the Huellas Natural Monument of Dinosaurs, in the municipality of Ourém, the 22nd and last agreement in this area.

The PNSAC, with almost 38,400 hectares, covers an important part of the Extremadura limestone massif, the second largest strategic groundwater reserve in Portugal, after the Setúbal peninsula. This protected area, created in 1979, covers the municipalities of Alcobaça and Porto de Mós (Leiria district), and Alcanena, Ourém, Rio Maior, Santarém and Torres Novas (Santarém).

According to João Paulo Catarino, “there are other details” that will be improved “depending on the application of the modelnow, with the certainty, however, that this is the way to go, which is to bring local elected representatives closer to the decisions that are made in these protected areas”.

“Do not strictly withdraw any competence of the ICNF [Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas] As for the supervision and the responsibility to ensure that the values ​​and natural values ​​that gave rise to the classification of these protected areas are maintained, there is everything else, such as the improvement of visiting conditions, the promotion of the park in national terms or international, interactions with local communities” and even how to improve “planning plans, so that they better adjust to the needs of the people who live” in these territories, said the Secretary of State.

For João Paulo Catarino, there is “a host of opportunities for improvement, in the certainty that this is the way to go.”

The regional director of Conservation of Nature and Forests of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, Rui Pombo, explained that the protocol signed this Friday “is the formalization of a process of adhesion of the municipalities to the model of co-management of protected areas” .

“This model aims to promote visitation in the protected area, reclassify the visitation model and promote the protected area. These are the main goals,” he said, adding that this protocol has an associated financial package (70 thousand euros) which has to do with the financing of a technician who will promote the entire process, hired by ADSAICA.

Rui Pombo clarified that the technician will, “in addition to the interconnection between the ICNF and the municipalities, promote a management model that will have an action plan with a four-year investment model.”

“The co-management model is a participatory management model and, therefore, what the municipalities are going to assume is a more active role in what is the model of promotion, dissemination, development of the protected area”, said Rui Pombo.

The mayor of Alcanena, Rui Anastácio, who chairs the co-management commission, highlighted the importance of “returning to the local community the strong identity that is the PNSAC.” Rui Anastácio highlighted that this territory has “an incredible source”, highlighting the need to value and communicate the “Aire e Candeeiros product”.

“Our biggest challenge is to be able to ‘sell’ the territory”, he pointed.

Source: Observadora

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