Target: Biologists Antonio Mónteiro and Ana Berliner
Goal: Thank biologist couple for working to protect threatened birds of prey while stimulating the economy
In the midst of a national economic crisis, wildlife biologists Antonio Mónteiro and Ana Berliner found a way to tackle unemployment and rehabilitate the Faia Brava nature reserve’s dwindling populations of birds of prey. In 1999, the couple began buying up land in Portugal’s Côa River Valley, eventually amassing 800 hectares along a 5 kilometer, or 3 mile stretch along the river. Teaming up with conservationist Luc Hoffmann, whom Mónteiro met through a European birding circle, Mónteiro and Berliner and their staff of 7 people formed part of a growing local movement of “nature entrepreneurs,” who make their way from the city of Lisbon to revitalize the area’s economy and natural environment.
Visitors to Faia Brava include eco-tourists, photographers, and wealthy urban residents looking to enjoy local wine, olive products, and honey. Simultaneously, they help maintain the reserve and bring much needed revenue to villages struggling as a result of heavy migration of younger residents to cities for work. New jobs emerge in leading tour groups among the area’s various medieval castles or up to the prehistoric rock formations where threatened populations of griffon vultures and golden eagles make their nests.
The greatest challenge of the moment is to convince locals of the economic value of staying in the area. To begin changing people’s mindsets, Faia Brava staff envision the development of small hotels and lodges as well as a 200 kilometer hiking trail throughout the valley.
By signing the petition below, you can commend the Faia Brava community on their success in protecting threatened wildlife and creating a culture of sustainable development, one that will hopefully last for generations to come.
Dear Antonio Mónteiro and Ana Berliner,
I am writing to thank you for your efforts to protect threatened populations of birds of prey in the Côa River Valley. By purchasing the land that is their habitat, you have not only prevented further degradation of this vital ecosystem, but also brought investment and jobs to the area.
In the midst of this dire economic crisis, your story affirms that investing in ecology supports the economy as well. It is my hope that your example serves to inspire other projects such as this one across the globe. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and thank you for your commitment to sustainable development.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: AetherForce via aetherforce.com