Ribeira d'Ilhas. Photo: Ricardo Bravo
Read this statement in Portuguese here
It has come to Save The Waves' attention that Ribeira d'Ilhas, a small beach and surf spot located within the 8-kilometer boundary of the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve, is at the center of a controversy regarding a proposed development and property rights. The municipality of Mafra recently evicted the long-standing Ribeira Surf Camp and took over the beachfront property for a future public development project. This project sponsored by the municipality of Mafra and other government agencies includes a surf training academy, commercial retail space, parking and other public facilities. Local surfers and residents are divided over whose land this is located on, and what should be done with the land to protect the environment and natural character of the area. Some people are concerned that the long-existing surf camp was unrightfully evicted and taken over by political or real estate interests without respecting the benefits of all citizens and without due process of the law.
Save The Waves Coalition hopes that this dispute can be resolved transparently with justice served for the property owners and without political interests influencing the legal rights of the surf camp. The Ribeira Surf Camp has always been an exceptional steward of the Ribeira beach area, showing respect, restraint and good judgment in the long-term preservation of the natural environment and beach culture at Ribeira d'Ilhas.
Save The Waves Coalition encourages the local community to establish an open, respectful dialogue with public officials and the town council of Mafra. Save The Waves also urges town officials and the courts of Mafra to exhibit complete transparency in their decision making process concerning this expropriation of private land and their future construction plans for the area. Assuming the property dispute is resolved through a transparent and legal process, we expect any new coastal development of this area to meet the highest international environmental standards involving low-impact "green" construction, with the use of recycled materials, a limited footprint of any hard structures, and using limited resources. We also advocate that the project footprint for any proposed development does not significantly exceed the existing development’s impact. Finally, we demand that any construction be guaranteed to not affect the area's water quality, wave quality, and natural processes of the coastal zone within the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve, and that the appropriate environmental studies be conducted prior to implementation to prove this is the case.
Save The Waves is currently evaluating the proposed development plans including the environmental and cultural impacts to Ribeira d’Ilhas, and working with the local community to determine an appropriate resolution.
The Ericeira World Surfing Reserve is an international treasure as well as a beloved, limited, natural resource for all. We encourage the parties involved in this controversy to exercise restraint and absolute respect for the natural environment and cultural history of Ribeira d'Ilhas.