The forest fire on Santo Antão that we reported on last week has now been extinguished. However, the Cape Verdean Minister of Agriculture, Gilberto Silva, has stated that it will take a lot of hard work over more than five years for the area to recover from the fire damage.
Some 200 hectares (almost 500 acres) were damaged according to latest estimates. This area is some 13% of the whole forest area and equivalent to approximately 200 football pitches. The flames have destroyed trees, endemic plants and water pipelines. These pipelines were installed to provide water to the East Plateau (Planalto Leste).
The causes of the fire are as yet unknown.
With fires breaking out in a number of countries in Europe, a new forest fire has now broken out in the forest on the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. This fire has been described as being more serious than the one in June 2017. It is thought that it might be the worst fire to have hit this forest.
The fire is reported to have started in the area of Espongeiro. It as already burnt a large amount of the forest, reports suggest as much as 30 hectares (74 acres) and some houses are threatened..
The fire is described as complicated, given that it is burning on at least three separate fronts. Some families have been evacuated from the areas at risk. This fire destroy an important part of the eco-system on the island. The smoke will also have unwelcome effects on the environment.
This is the third fire that has occurred in this forest in under two months. The Government set up a volunteer fire brigade only two weeks ago as a measure to protect this precious forest.
At a time when much of Europe is in the middle of a heatwave/draught it is particularly good to hear that some farmers in Cape Verde have had their lives improved by the installation of a water irrigation system. Money from the African Development Bank has paid for this installation on the island of Santiago. It means that the farmers that have benefitted from it no longer have to hike for up to 20km in order to get water for farming and for daily use.
Santiago is the largest island in Cape Verde and it is an important centre for agriculture. Farming relies on water for its survival, but in country where there is little rain that has always proved problematic. A large number of farmers are women, so this is making life considerably improved for these hard working ladies. One lady farmer has reportedly been able to increase her production and can now send her son to university.
The Picos and Engenhos Watershed Management project will help to secure the future for farming on Santiago. It has already increased the yield of the 17 farming groups that has brought almost 1,000 women farmers together. The programme has seen wells, reservoirs and irrigation systems constructed over the course of 7 years. Currently Cape Verde has to import up to 75% of its food. It is anticipated that this improvement in agricultural production will reduce that figure.
Work has recently started on a large photovoltaic installation on the island of Sal in Cape Verde. This is part of the Cape Verdean government’s aim to supply all of the country’s energy from renewable sources. Águas de Ponta Preta (APP) is constructing this new solar farm at Ponta Preta.
The new installation will supply 2.03 GWh/year, consequently it will reduce the reliance on fossil fuels by 10%. The solar farm will comprise 3,480 panels and will cost €2.03m. Through an agreement with CERMI – The Centre for Renewable Energy and Industrial maintenance – 8 students are involved in the assembly and operational stages.
Cape Verde has almost unlimited sun therefore the use of this free resource to provide electricity is an obvious one for this country.
There is currently a Cape Verdean Parliamentary Delegation visiting the island of Maio for three days of meetings and visits. A number of subjects will be covered including ecology. The delegation will also be entertained with musical events on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. The entertainment being provided by local bands and also Tibau Tavares.
On Wednesday there will be a meeting looking at matters of ecology within Cape Verde. This meeting will consider issues surrounding water and agriculture together with other environmental issues. This could be an important initiative in a country that already has grand plans in terms of green energy. If Cape Verde can address other issues such as recycling and dealing with waste, it would be a good move.
São Vicente is to be home to the first commercial wave power project in Cape Verde. SINN Power, a German company is to partner with a local company Fazenda de Camarão to prepare a feasibility study. The plan is to create an organic prawn farm, which will then be supplied with energy from the waves.
The seas around Cape Verde are a good choice to harvest the power of the sea to generate electricity. The country has set an ambitious target to be be 100% reliant on renewables by 2025. This latest proposal will surely help Cape Verde to reach this target. The use of this in conjunction with a sustainable prawn farm has the benefit of not only providing renewable energy, but also boosting food production.
A recent report identified the island of Maio as having the necessary conditions to be considered as part of the UNESCO Biosphere. Biosphere reserves are ‘areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems’.
Consultants identified Maio as having the potential to be an excellent reserve, given its size and the quality of the natural environment. Also because it is part of Macaronesia (islands in the North Atlantic, belonging to Portugal, Spain and Cape Verde). It is hoped that the formalities will be submitted to UNESCO by September. The proposal is considered with a decision due in July 2019. Some aspects may not be completed in time for that deadline and may have to be considered for next year. Submissions always have to be made by September.
Designating the island of Maio in this way could bring some advantages for the island, including recognition world wide. It will also bring to the island organisations and individuals interested in research. It will also provide support in the management of the natural resources on the island.
On Sunday, three young whales became stranded on the little beach next to Stella Maris in Vila do Maio. Various attempts were made to push them back into the sea but even with ropes and sheets, this proved impossible. Eventually a fishing boat arrived and using its motor they managed to get these three lovely creatures back into deeper water. This successful outcome was greeted with applause from the crowd that had gathered. Its puzzling why the whales came into such shallow waters. Congratulations to all concerned.
What exciting, ambitious plans! Cape Verde had previously set a target of achieving 50% of the countries power from renewable sources. They have now increased their target to 100% of their energy requirements being from renewables by 2020. What an amazing achievement that will be if they succeed. It will put many more developed countries to shame. Cape Verde has very little in the way of natural resources, and relatively little agricultural land. However, it does have plenty of is sun and wind. Seven years ago the government of Cape Verde set out the benefits of employing solar and wind power. Then they set targets of achieving 25% of the countries requirements by the end of 2011, and 50% by the end of 2020. The government reports that the country already generates 25% of the electricity usage through wind turbines. The government formed CERMI (Centre of Renewable Energy and Industrial Maintenance). It is hoped that this will serve more than just Cape Verde, but also other west African countries.