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Posted by portugalpress on July 14, 2017

With lower-echelon government reshuffle the order of this week (six out, including the Galpgate trio, and eight in), environmental group Quercus is delighting in the appointment of new forestry boss and ‘honorary Algarvian’ Miguel Freitas.

Agricultural engineer Freitas leaves his position as first secretary of AMAL, the association of Algarve borough councils, after years in various key development positions in the region.

His new appointment gives the country’s leading environmental association “hope for a breath of fresh air”.

As Lusa explains, Freitas is taking responsibility for forestry and rural development “in the middle of the summer, at a time when the fires of Pedrógão Grande have put forestry management into the media spotlight”.

Quercus’ hope is that the 57-year-old, born in Mozambique, will be in sync with their ideas, “particularly when it comes to reducing the areas given over to eucalyptus” plantations.

Quercus’ proposals centre on the promotion of indigenous tree species that resist fire (as opposed to highly-combustible eucalyptus that help spread it), as well as the installation ‘fire barrier’-type trees along roadsides, and the “parceling of forestry properties” (so that fires can be contained).

The association has spared criticism of Freitas’ predecessor, saying that Amândio Torres actually played an important role in fighting the liberalisation of eucalyptus, and was more a “victim of circumstance” than anything censurable.

Elsewhere, the ‘shocks’ were only that the Secretary of State for European Affairs Margarida Marques was ousted without apparently having any inkling that demotion was on its way. She is being replaced by Ana Paula Zacharias, as prime minister António Costa has used the occasion also to create a new post: Secretary of State for Housing - also taken up by a woman: Ana Pinho.


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