To carry out your dreams for this area of the Alentejo, Louis-Albert is one of those interested in buying Comporta land. We talked to him to learn more about his plans.
How did the idea come to create this association and what is the purpose of this movement?
First of all, we want to draw the attention of the general public and stakeholders to the enormous fragility of this very special ecosystem where Comporta fits in with three natural reserves on the ocean.
On the other hand, we intend to suggest the creation of an integrated ecosystem that, based on the triptych Nature, Art and Education, can serve the economy of the territory and the population, and that proposes to face the global challenges in the environment.
Comporta should be a “showcase” that exposes the great global issues that are posed at the level of the environment, society and culture. And it should serve as an example for the whole Alentejo, Portugal and Europe.
Why did you choose Comporta? Tell us a little about your history and what brought you to Portugal, specifically to this place.
I came for the first time to the gates 25 years ago thanks to friends. Since then I found this region very moving and always gave me immense energy. In 2010 I managed to find a house in Brejos da Carregueira and decided, in 2013, to move to Portugal. I can go on living here permanently and keep faithful to my convictions that are a commitment for life: Nature, Art and Education.
“We aim to bring together experts, groups, communities with cultural backgrounds to transform this region of Alentejo into a kind of” green Silicon Valley “that proposes solutions to the greatest global challenges”
Louis-Albert de Broglie
I read in a report about themselves that they call Prince Gardener. Where does the nickname come from?
This nickname arose after starting a few years ago, in 1993, a plantation of tomatoes that came to be classified in 1997 as National Tomato Conservatory (in France) where nowadays cultivate 700 varieties of tomatoes. Since then, I have founded a brand called “Le Prince Jardinier”.
What is your vision for Comporta? Five years from now, will it be a place for everyone or just for money?
A powerful ecosystem that will address environmental, social, cultural and architectural issues by bringing concrete projects to demonstrate the efficiency of an ecology-based economy, ie:
Naturally, we have the goal of bringing together experts, groups, communities, who have different cultural backgrounds and represent multiple areas of expertise in order to transform this region of the Alentejo into a green Silicon Valley that offers solutions to the biggest global challenges.
As for timing, we believe that it will take a year to mobilize all kinds of companies, Portuguese NGOs and international institutions to build the centers, including their inherent funding, and then put them into practice with people moving to this region and that they come to live here permanently and this is called a sustainable economy!
In five years there could be as many as 200 families sharing the same vision for this incredible place.
In your opinion, the Portuguese have an environmental conscience? Do you care about the environment?
Yes, I think so. There are many incredible projects such as Portugal Carbon Zero in 2050, the Green Growth Commitment (2015-2030), the National Waste Management Plan (2014-2020), the PERSU where Portugal proposes to achieve a recycling rate of 50% in municipal waste by 2020.
In any case, we need more cross-cutting projects that demonstrate that anything is possible and must be done with a sense of urgency when we recognize the scourge of climate change such as global temperature rise, glacier detachment and reduction, biodiversity, ocean acidification, extreme events (fires, tornadoes) and the impact of carbon dioxide and other gases.
And the Portuguese State? Does it make enough for the environment or do we risk seeing the Costa Alentejana transformed into another Algarve?
I think that, just like any other government, Portuguese is pressured at the level of goals and actions with a long-term need for return, and this is the principle of ecology, an ecosystem that is autonomous and resilient.
Past mistakes are not yet clear in the minds of people, which is disturbing from a common sense point of view, so this should be more emphasized with the pedagogy that should focus on what can be done.
As an example, we have signed an agreement with the French authorities (Caisse Dépôts and ICADE) for the project of the 9th district of Versailles which shows that the Mayor of Versailles has a clear understanding of what is important.
In your opinion, can tourism projects be positive? In what way?
If it’s a responsible tourism, yes. But it also needs associated pedagogy and the courage to achieve a low density project that protects the environment and its extreme fragility.
Do you think we have good examples in Portugal that bring development to environmental preservation? Which are?
There are some very inspiring examples of landscape architecture in Portugal that provide important lessons on how to harmonize urban development with environmental preservation. For example, the Lisbon Green Corridor, between the city center and Monsanto Park, shows how to link urban and forest areas. The Porto City Park brings to the center of the city a bucolic extension of nature through a very gentle way of managing semi-natural forests and pastures. In Alentejo, the Vale Gonçalinho Environmental Education Center, of the League for the Protection of Nature, demonstrates how it is possible to reconcile traditional agriculture with ecotourism and education services.
Do you have any comments to make regarding the reaction of José Cardoso Botelho of Vanguard Properties, who says that your initiative is inappropriate?
I would like him to hear and realize that we should all be concerned about the next generations. To do so, we can look at examples around the world and see that we have to change the paradigm of economic development. That deserves work and humility, and I am sure that if he spent some time with our community of ecologists, economists, he would understand and share the same vision of challenges and solutions. I will be happy to welcome you to an exchange of views.
Article published in Greensavers on September 20, 2018.