The forests will benefit from 425 million euros in European aid. Bidding opens in 2024

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The environment minister also said he expected the carbon market law to be published “this summer, in its final version”.

The Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (PEPAC) for Portugal provides €274.5 million to support investment in forestry production and €150.7 million for other areas of the value chain, such as the processing of agricultural and forestry products. The forestry sector will thus be able to count on 425 million euros in support from European funds, said the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, Duarte Cordeiro, at this Wednesday’s regular hearing in Parliament.

The forests will benefit from 425 million euros in European aid. Bidding opens in 2024

The regulation of forest investment interventions will begin in the second half of this year, followed by the launch of calls for applications from early 2024. Another new feature of the PEPAC plan is the possibility of granting annual premiums for active forest maintenance and management for a period of 20 years for hardwood stands, and 15 years for other species.

Under the same plan, the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation will play a greater role in the analysis and monitoring of investment projects, becoming a member of the management committee.

Luís Capoulas Santos - Minister of Agriculture
Luís Capoulas Santos – Minister of Agriculture

As for the Rural Development Program (PDR2020), three calls for investment support measures are open, to the tune of 40 million euros, for the installation and maintenance of mosaic areas of fuel management plots, and later this month, new calls are due to open in the transformation, environmental resilience and hunting resources strand, “to the tune of over 20 million euros, making over 60 million euros”, said the Minister.

In response to the deputies, the Minister added that the government is studying the creation of a regulator for the Portuguese forest. On the same occasion, the Secretary of State for Nature Conservation, João Paulo Catarino, stated that the government was evaluating the possibility of making the granting of licenses to new wood pellet plants dependent on the assessment of the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF).

A carbon market for the summer
The Minister also indicated that, with regard to the carbon market, the public consultation had been carried out and “recorded strong support with broad participation, giving rise to more than 70 contributions with a certain density of content”, so that the government will consider “improving the law”. Mr. Cordeiro indicated that, in this way, he expects the law to be published “again this summer, in its final version”.

The rational water use plan for the Alentejo region is currently being drawn up.
On the subject of water, the Minister listed the five critical regions, i.e. those with the greatest shortages. These are the Algarve, the Alentejo coast, the Tagus and western regions, Viseu and its surroundings, and Trás-os-Montes. “These are the regions for which we want a rational water use plan,” he declared.

The Algarve already has a water efficiency plan, and the Alentejo plan “is almost complete” and will soon be published, he said.

Meanwhile, asked about desalination projects, the Minister said that “we cannot embark on major investments, which will cost taxpayers or those who pay for water, without making sure that we make a big effort to reduce water losses”, ensuring that all projects take this dimension into account.

For the moment, he said that the desalination plant project in the Algarve “is underway”, but that the government is working on two other projects, one in the Sines region and the other in Mira.

With regard to the first, Águas de Portugal is studying the water needs of industrial sectors, so that a new desalination plant can be built, “for hydrogen production, for example”. For the second, a working group has already been set up with the Mira irrigators, “who want to invest in a desalination plant for private use”.

The government is working with this group, the Portuguese Environment Agency and the Forest Conservation Institute to find sites. There are “advantages on both sides”, he points out. On the private side, predictability, for “everyone else”, the greater availability of the Santa Clara dam, whose consumption is released by the private sector.

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