Second Lisbon airport: biggest threat to a wader site in the East Atlantic?


A proposal to construct a second Lisbon airport at the Montijo/Samouco military air base on the Tejo (Tagus) estuary has been given provisional approval by the Portuguese authorities. The site is the most important wetland in Portugal, second only in Iberia to Doñana in Spain, and hosts large numbers of wintering waders from all over northern Europe, including good numbers of Curlews. The site is recognised under a number of international conservation agreements, notably the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement and the European Union Birds and Habitats Directives. Construction of an airport so close to the feeding and roosting areas of these birds would clearly cause massive disturbance and degradation of the habitat.

Paulo Valdivieso from Lisboa, Portugal / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

At the last Curlew Forum meeting (see latest Newsletter, Newsletter 8), those present approved interventions on international issues undertaken by the Steering Committee. The Committee has alerted the AEWA and Ramsar secretariats, and  has sent a letter of concern to the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Ocean and Fisheries. The text of the letter is given below.

It should be noted that the site is important for many other waders and waterbirds besides Eurasian Curlew: it holds up to 200,000 waders in winter, among them a large proportion of the Black-tailed Godwits that breed in the Netherlands. An on line petition against the proposal has already received 26,000 signatures in the Netherlands (see https://www.vogelbescherming.nl/petition-black-tailed-godwitt ).

Further details are available at https://www.wilder.pt/english/montijo-airport-scientist-identifies-errors-and-serious-deficiencies/

Mike Smart

This is the letter sent by the Curlew Forum: 20200220 Portugal EU letter (PDF).

Two blogs by Graham Appleton: Tagus estuary: for birds or planes?
and this one which provides evidence that Black-tailed Godwits are remarkably site-faithful and are unlikely to ‘just go somewhere else’: Generational change

Video and other information about the area: https://www.publico.pt/2020/02/04/video/aeroporto-montijo-200-mil-aves-estuario-tejo-mitigacao-havera-20200130-145227

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