Water from the dams only lasts eight months

Article by: Manuel Catarino (DN) 30th December 2023

“Beneath the exhausted dams, the dry irrigation canals and the citrus and avocado orchards, rivers and streams flow, forming considerable masses of water stored between the rocks. The Algarve has 17 underground aquifers. “They are real [dams in] Alqueva beneath our feet”, according to hydrologist José Paulo Monteiro, which will supply the public network when the dams are exhausted. But these strategic reserves are also becoming “critical”

In the North and Center of the country, where the rains of late October and early November had arrived to fill six reservoirs, it rained heavily again in December. The Serra Serrada and Vilar-Tabuaço dams, in the Douro, the Lagoa Comprida dam, in the Mondego, the Belver, Capinha and Cova de Viriato dams, in the Tagus, all already full of water and satiated, opened floodgates to let the excess flow out. – while in the Algarve the rain in drops was not even enough to wet the six dams in the region, which continue to hang out and pant with thirst.

The Algarve dams — Bravura, Odelouca, Arade and Funcho, in Barlavento; Odeleite and Beliche, in Sotavento — are less than a quarter of capacity, according to reports from the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA). Together they will have no more than 34 cubic hectometers of water, the equivalent of 34 billion litres. It even seems like an immense and inexhaustible sea. But it’s a puddle — a small puddle for tap needs. “It’s enough to supply the public network for about eight months”, says Professor Nuno Loureiro, researcher at the University of Faro, to Diário de Notícias (DN). .

The Municipality of Silves, with three thousand hectares of irrigated land, provides land for most of the Algarve’s orange groves. Around 150 thousand tons of oranges leave here annually, half of the Algarve’s entire production — and the Algarve, according to the National Statistics Institute, contributes almost 90 percent of the total 350 thousand tons for the entire country. Orchards need sun and can’t do without drinking it. They do not lack heat, but water is increasingly scarce.

João Garcia, president of the irrigators association, looks at the green orchards with fear of what may be to come. You don’t have to be a wizard to guess the doom of the drought. The sky clear of clouds and the smiling sun do not bode well. There was a time when it rained more in the Barlavento Algarve, from Sagres to Albufeira, and less in the Sotavento, from Loulé to Vila Real de Santo António. Now, it’s the opposite. At the end of November, blessed battles fell to Sotavento and shameful drops to Windward. The Odelouca and Arade dams, where the water that irrigates the Silves and Lagoa orchards comes from, remained low — so empty that the Portuguese Environment Agency decided to suspend irrigation. Not a drop comes from it for agriculture. The priority is to protect public supply.

Each hectare of orange grove, the equivalent of a football field, requires between six thousand and 6500 cubic meters of water per year — six or 6.5 million liters, from January to December. Irrigation has been so sparing that, this year, the production of oranges of the spring and summer varieties — Lane Late, Valencia and Dom João — fell by half. “There are orchards that have already lost many orange trees. The trees withered and died. Others, fed by boreholes, are on a survival basis: they receive only the water necessary so that the trees do not die, although they produce little or nothing, in the hope that it will rain and they can be recovered”, says João Garcia.

The irrigation workers in Silves still managed to water until the end of November. In the neighbouring Municipality of Lagos, in the Odiáxere area, water is an old memory. For three years now, the beneficiaries of the Bravura Dam — some 1800 hectares of irrigated land — have not had a drop of water running in the irrigation canals. The dam’s reservoir looks like the bottom of a pond and its banks are now authentic arid and stony ravines. The water stored below, so little that it can only be removed with a suction pump, is destined for the public network.

The rains in October, the result of depressions Aline and Bernard, were encouraging. They hit hard. But they passed quickly. They left as quickly as they arrived. No more than 100 thousand cubic meters (100 million liters) of water were left in the Bravura dam. “It was enough for two weeks of public supply,” says the president of the irrigation association, António Marreiros. Not a drop of this water was used for irrigation. The orange orchards have survived the headquarters thanks to two boreholes, opened in the Torre area, lent by the Portimão City Council.

The landscape around the Bravura irrigation canals is changing. Traditional orange groves are quickly being replaced by a new permanent crop – avocados. The plantations, watered from boreholes to underground aquifers, extend from Odiáxere to the municipality of Vila do Bispo. These are trees hated by environmentalists. They point out a mortal sin: they drink a lot of water — water that the Algarve doesn’t have. It’s more fame than profit.

Macário Correia, who the country knew as a committed Secretary of State for the Environment, is an agronomist by training and a farmer. Avocado trees don’t keep you up at night. “It’s not true that they consume as much water as they say,” he assures. They drink, at most, “10 percent more than a citrus grove”, between 6.6 million and seven million liters per hectare per year. More drops, less drops. The tendency is for them to drink less and less water. The University of Algarve, in collaboration with the Regional Directorate of Agriculture, is carrying out a study to promote more efficient irrigation of irrigated crop orchards.

But the avocado tree drinkers have an advantage: they give more income to farmers. The market, according to Macário Correia, “is paying producers for oranges at an average of 20 cents per kilo and for avocados at around two euros”. He focuses on citrus fruits — oranges, tangerines and lemons — and carob. Not a single avocado comes from his family land, on the outskirts of Tavira. But land with this fruit is growing in the Algarve. They extend over 2600 hectares, according to figures from the Regional Directorate of Agriculture, and already represent eight percent of the entire agricultural area in the region. The business seems worthwhile. A study commissioned by the Algarve Business Union shows that current avocado plantations, when they reach production splendor, will generate 40 million euros for the region.

The Algarve’s Gross Domestic Product, according to data from the Regional Coordination and Development Commission, is around 10 billion euros. The biggest contribution comes from tourism. Agriculture is worth around nine percent of wealth: around 900 million euros. It occupies around 32,500 hectares, much of it with citrus fruits, apples, pears, avocados — orchards that require water. The dams are exhausted. Even the Sotavento irrigated areas, eight thousand hectares served by the Odeleite and Beliche dams, ran out of water at the beginning of December. “There is no water to start next year’s campaign”, laments Macário Correia, president of the irrigation association.

Farmers, lacking surface water, resort to underground water. 6765 water intakes are licensed throughout the Algarve, including boreholes, wells and noras, according to the National Water Resources Information System. But no one knows how many illegal boreholes there are. José Paulo Monteiro, hydrologist, professor at the Centre for Water Sciences and Technologies at the University of Faro, calculates that “there are between 20 thousand and 25 thousand boreholes in the Algarve, a region with an area of ​​5400Km2”.

Nuno Loureiro, researcher at the University of Faro, demands “planning and supervision” to prevent “everyone from doing what they want with a scarce good that belongs to everyone”. It won’t be difficult to monitor and put order in the holes. Satellite images, which observe everything, can help.

Nuno Loureiro knows, like few others, the Algarve from space. He is working on building a modern map that should be completed next February. We will then see, down to the smallest millimeter, what the true extent of irrigation in the Algarve is. Satellites have been showing you “an addition” of areas irrigated over time: “The images from the 80s of the last century show how small the citrus fruit patch is in the Silves area and how modest the entire area is to the north and south of Estrada Nacional 125, between Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António. If we look for recent images, from the years 2018, 2020, 2022, we can see that it grows more and more and is watered more and more.” Green is not deceiving. You can see if vegetation is being watered — and this information, crossed with possible water sources, is enough to detect illegal boreholes.

This method of satellite mapping, according to Nuno Loureiro, “allows monitoring the use of water, but it is not being used by political and technical decision-makers, and it needs to start being done”. Even if this winter is a little more generous with rain, this “may alleviate the pain, but it is not a cure”; to the problem that the region faces – and the problem, sums up the scientist, is pointed: “The Algarve consumes more water than it has available.”

Beneath our feet, beneath the exhausted dams and dry irrigation canals, rivers and streams flow, forming considerable masses of water stored among the rocks. The Algarve has 17 underground aquifers — “they are real [dams of] Alqueva”, hydrologist José Paulo Monteiro tells DN. But these strategic reserves “are becoming critical”, because drought and lack of precipitation are preventing them from being recharged. The most important — delimited by Querença, in the Municipality of Loulé, Faro and Silves — has already experienced a “recharge capacity of the order of three million cubic meters per year”. It was time. The water level is dropping so much that salty sea water has already started to infiltrate. The others are no better. What is located in the depths of the earth between Almádena and Odiáxere is saved. Nature trapped him between rocks and cut off his path to the coast.

The Algarve consumes an average of 237 cubic hectometers of water per year, the equivalent of 237 billion liters. More than half, almost 129 hectometers, comes from aquifers — water that is used for everything: public supply, rule of orchards and golf courses, filling of swimming pools… “These reserves are going into the red”, warns the professor Nuno Loureiro.

Nuno Loureiro is only sure of one thing: the Algarve is desertifying – and “I don’t see long-term plans, a solution designed to know where we will get water in 20 years”. Everything goes slowly. The construction of a single desalination plant, as planned, is not enough: “Two or three are needed.”

If desalination is like the airport story, the Algarve will die of thirst. Unless São Pedro sends rain in buckets that fill dams and recharge aquifers. Otherwise, it will be necessary to go to underground reserves, the “Alquevas beneath our feet”, so that there is no shortage of water in the taps”.




More than 1.2 million people have suffered discrimination in Portugal


Lisbon, 22 December 2022 (Lusa) – More than 1.2 million people (16.1%) have suffered discrimination in Portugal, especially Roma (51.3%), the National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed today.

Next are black people (44.2%) or “mixed people” (40.4%), according to the results of the Survey on Living Conditions, Origins and Trajectories of the Resident Population in Portugal (ICOT), presented by INE as an unprecedented statistical project in Portugal.

Discrimination also affected the unemployed (24.9%), younger people (18.9%), educated people (18.3%) and women (17.5%), according to the categories established by INE.

“More than 4.9 million people (65.1%) consider discrimination to exist in Portugal and 2.7 million (35.9%) have witnessed this type of situation”, says INE.

Ethnic group, skin colour, sexual orientation and territory of origin constitute “the most relevant factors” in perceived and witnessed discrimination, according to the same source.

The survey began in January, with a view to covering more than 35,000 homes, to address, among other issues, the ethnic-racial origin of people who have resided in Portugal for at least 12 months, and comes after the organization decided not to include in the 2021 Census a question on this matter, as intended by the majority of members of the working group created in 2019 by the Government to evaluate the issue.

According to the results of the work, people between 18 and 74 years old identified themselves, in terms of origin or ethnic belonging, as follows: 6.4 million with the white ethnic group; 169.2 thousand with the black group; 56.6 thousand with the Asian group; 47.5 thousand with the gypsy ethnic group; and 262.3 thousand with the group of mixed origin or belonging.

“The population that identifies as Asian, of mixed origin or belonging, black and gypsy has a younger age structure than that which identifies as white”, highlighted the INE.

In Portugal, 1.4 million people have an immigration path, of whom 947.5 thousand are first-generation immigrants, most represented in the Algarve regions (31.0% and 24.2%, respectively) and Lisbon Metropolitan Area (29 .2% and 18.8%, respectively).

“The population that identifies with the ethnic groups black, Asian and mixed origin or belonging has the highest proportions of immigration background (90.3%, 83.7% and 69.2%, respectively)”, reads the document .

The majority of first-generation immigrants (65.2%) have lived in Portugal for more than 10 years. Family and professional reasons are “determining when coming to Portugal”.

More than three quarters (76.3%) say they have a strong or very strong feeling of connection to Portugal. Just over half (53.5%) have the same feeling regarding Europe.

“The population with an immigration background and first-generation immigrants have a greater connection to Portugal than to the family’s country of origin or the country where they were born”, highlighted the statisticians.

More than 4.7 million people aged 18 to 74 were employed (62.4%), with emphasis on ethnic groups of mixed origin or belonging (67.9%), black (64.3%) and white (62 .9%).

“More than two million people had to work while studying and 1.7 million were forced to leave their studies earlier than they would have liked”, found the authors of the work.

In addition to Portuguese, 486.4 thousand people spoke another language at home up to the age of 15. “Currently, 661.7 thousand speak Portuguese at home and another language”.

The languages ​​of other European countries and languages ​​or dialects of Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP) are among the most spoken.

The population within the survey’s reference age range resides mainly in the North region (35.5%), followed by the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (27.3%) and the Center region (21.2%).

“The geographic distribution of the population according to ethnic group allows us to observe, however, a different pattern of distribution in the territory: while the population that identifies with the white group follows the pattern observed in the total population, the population that identifies with the black (69.9%), mixed origin or belonging (48.4%) and Asian (34.7%) groups are mainly concentrated in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area”, specified the INE.

Around three quarters of the population (74.3%) resides in predominantly urban areas, “where the following ethnic groups particularly stand out, with higher than average values: black (91.7%), mixed origin or belonging (88, 7%) and Asian (80.3%)”.





Fires: Fuel management policy without scientific basis


Coimbra, 10 Dec 2023 (Lusa) – A research project in Coimbra concluded that there is no significant difference in fire behaviour between managed and unmanaged areas close to infrastructure, and revealed a lack of scientific support for the current fuel management policy.

“We were unable to prove, in statistical terms, that there is a statistically significant difference between managed areas and unmanaged areas [next to infrastructure],” Joaquim Sande Silva, who coordinated the InduForestFire research project, together with João Paulo Rodrigues, told Lusa. .

For the researcher and professor at the Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra, the review of the legislation around fuel management bands that came out in 2018, after the large fires that had occurred the previous year, “was not produced with any scientific basis, nor experts in the field were not even consulted to produce this legislation.”

InduForestFire, focused on supporting political decisions for the mitigation of urban-forest interface fires, is led by Itecons – Institute of Research and Technological Development for Construction, Energy, Environment and Sustainability of the University of Coimbra (responsible for the structural component) and by the Escola Superior Agrária of the Polytechnic of Coimbra (forestry component).

In the forestry component, the team focused on fuel management and the forest composition around infrastructures, “with the backdrop of the legislation currently in force and in the process of being reviewed and amended”.

The results and technical recommendations of this scientific project will be presented on Monday, at the Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra, between 9:00 am and 5:30 pm.

Phot:  A resident watches the progression of a wildfire in Linhares, Celorico da Beira in Portugal on August 11, 2022. (AFP)

According to the researcher, the legislation currently in force forced “highly debatable work”, with trees of high heritage value being “thrown down”, without any scientific support that could demonstrate that these same trees would be a threat to the safety of people and infrastructure. .

“We wanted to compare fire behaviour within managed areas and in an adjacent unmanaged area. We did this in ten different locations in the Central region and, in statistical terms, we found no difference in fire behaviour between the managed and unmanaged areas,” he said.

The researcher highlighted that, in the managed strips, vegetation is reduced, but, as they are more open areas, wind speed tends to increase in these locations and the material is “drier and the temperature on the ground is higher”.

For Joaquim Sande Silva, if you reduce the size of fuels, you end up increasing “the conditions for propagation”.

From the teacher’s perspective, there was some haste in the legislation that came out in 2018, in reaction to the large fires that had occurred the previous year.

In addition to analysing fire behaviour in fuel management zones, the project team also analysed fire behaviour in a hardwood area.

Using fire simulations, but using input data “very close to reality”, with field collection of fuel characteristics and micrometeorology data, it was possible to conclude “that it is more advantageous to have a hardwood cover than to have just one open field”, he stated.

Furthermore, the researcher highlighted that Portugal currently has “a big problem with invasive species”, such as acacias, and concluded that there is a preference for their colonization “in these fuel management zones”. .

“The maintenance of these strips is very unsustainable, from a financial point of view, and, on the other hand, with hardwoods, there is a maintenance of shade that ensures that very little or nothing grows underneath”, he stressed, giving the example of Mata da Margaraça, in Arganil, where the October 2017 fire occurred, but where the behaviour was very different – ​​a low fire that ended up extinguishing as soon as it reached the wetter areas of the forest.





Have you been cloned?


I always remember watching a Sci-Fi film a few years ago entitled “Star Trek – Nemesis”, where Captain Picard is cloned; in this case creating a criminal “double”.

Implausible? Possibly not in the case of identity theft.


Data Breaches

From ordering food, requesting a taxi and checking our bank accounts, to meeting new people and selling our unwanted items, more of our lives are spent online. And whilst these digital services have given us more convenience and a better customer experience, we are giving our personal data to an unlimited number of people and companies.

And we’ve lost track of the details we’ve given – after giving them to so many different people and companies, it’s hard to remember who we gave our details to, what information we gave or when we gave them. A terrifying thought when news of data breaches hit the headlines almost every day.

In 2022, there were 5.7 million reports of fraud and identity theft with Consumers worldwide losing US$8.8 billion to identity theft alone. It is not just the initial loss however, studies showed that victims spent an average of over six months and 200 hours trying to recover their identities.

Furthermore having your identity stolen is an ordeal. Your bank account and credit score ratings are far from the only things that suffer. A traumatic event like this can also affect your relationship with family and friends. In an ITRC survey of identity theft victims, 45% of respondents said they didn’t get enough support from their family, while 65% said the same about their friends.

Identity theft and fraud

Identity fraud is something that occours when your name and personal information is used by someone else without your knowledge to obtain, goods, credit or other services fraudulently.

The number of consumers who have made purchases on-line increased to 2.64 billion in 2022, making up 33.3% of the world population. This is one of the main reasons identity theft numbers are in the millions. Sharing payment information, is the precursor to most identity theft incidents. According to statistics, the victims of online identity theft sprung from online shopping consumers after purchasing an item. However, 51% of consumers were targeted through phishing emails.  This illustrates that online users should be wary of their personal information when shopping or purchasing, ensuring their data is safe from identity thieves. (Source Global Newswire)

Social media sites generate revenue with targeted advertising, based on personal information. As such, they encourage registered users to provide as much information as possible. With limited government oversight, industry standards or incentives to educate users on security, privacy and identity protection, users are exposed to identity theft and fraud. Additionally, these platforms have an abundance of confidential user information, and are likely vulnerable to outside (or inside) attack.

A new report from, a human layer security company, has revealed that 84% of people post personal information to their social media accounts every week, with two-fifths (42%) posting every day, giving hackers the data they need to launch an attack. It reveals that half of people share names and pictures of their children, nearly three-quarters (72%) mention birthday celebrations, and 81% of workers update their job status on social media.

Hackers interviewed in the report explain how cybercriminals use social media posts to help identify their targets and craft highly targeted and convincing social engineering attacks. For example, with knowledge of who is within a person’s network, cybercriminals can easily impersonate someone their target trusts in order to manipulate them into wiring money or sharing information and account credentials.

How your identity can be stolen

There are many ways that someone can steal your identity, including: finding out your bank details; taking your passport or driving licence, or copying the details; copying your credit card details; accessing your personal information through a fraudulent website or email; taking junk mail that has your personal information on it and going through your dustbin to find receipts or other information. You may not know straight away that your identity has been stolen.

How to Reduce the Risk of Identity Fraud

Firstly off course is to be vigilant; be very cautious of anybody who contacts you unexpectedly (by phone or though email etc) and asks for personal information or account details even if they claim to be from the authorities or your bank. Ask for their name and a contact number and then check with the organisation in question before calling back.

It is important to guard your credit cards. Minimise the number of cards you carry in your wallet. In particular do not carry a written pin number with you. If you lose a card, contact the fraud division or emergency contact number of the relevant credit card company. Watch cashiers when you give them your card for a purchase and make sure you can see your credit card at all times.

.Being Safe On-line

If you use the internet ensure you have the latest security patches and up-to-date anti-virus software installed. An excellent website offers advice on keeping your details private on social networks as well as other advice such as avoiding scams, phishing attacks etc. You can avoid the risks and enjoy social networking sites by following a few sensible guidelines in particular:

Don’t let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites push you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. Just because other people post their mobile phone number or birthday, doesn’t mean you have to. Pick a user name that doesn’t include any personal information.  Use a strong password and not the same one for all websites.

Use the privacy features on the site you use to restrict strangers’ access to your profile. Be guarded about who you let join your network. Remember what goes online stays on-line. Don’t say anything or publish pictures that might cause you embarrassment later.

More details on this can be found on our website




Lisbon Civil Protection plans earthquake responses with parish councils


Lisbon, 05 Dec 2023 (Lusa) – The organized response of emergency services to an earthquake can take up to around 72 hours, which is why the Municipal Civil Protection Service (SMPC) of Lisbon is working with parish councils to plan relief.

According to Margarida Castro Martins, director of the SMPC in Lisbon, the experience of other earthquakes suggests that it is estimated that the organized response of the emergency services “may take up to around 72 hours”, that is, three days, and that in this period 95 % of the help is provided by the population, family, neighbours and friends.

The person responsible, who was speaking at an initiative promoted by the association Lisboa E-Nova – Lisbon Energy-Environment Agency, on “Local Emergency Planning”, explained that the city council is thus preparing with the parish councils the prevention and response to the occurrence of an earthquake and ‘tsunami’.

This takes into account that no one knows the territory and the populations better than the parish councils, their workers and their residents.

The SMPC leader highlighted that the seismic risk in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (AML) is considered “high to very high” and that the basis of the capital’s municipality’s response is the Civil Protection Special Emergency Plan for Seismic Risk in AML and neighbouring municipalities.

The Lisbon municipality, with 24 parishes and 545,796 inhabitants, has Lumiar as the most populous parish, with 46,334 residents, and Misericórdia as the least populous, with 9,658 residents, who naturally have “different realities”, and only Local Units of Civil Protection (ULPC) in the parishes of Alcântara (2016), Misericórdia (2020) and Penha de França (2021).

The municipality is preparing local emergency plans in the parishes of Avenidas Novas, Beato, Belém, Campo de Ourique, and updating those of Arroios and Olivais.

In addition to seismic risk plans, the municipality is also promoting an evacuation plan for the riverside area in the event of a ‘tsunami’, with a warning and alert system, following an earthquake.


The municipality already has two sirens installed, in Praça do Império, in the parish of Belém, and in Ribeira das Naus, in the parish of Santa Maria Maior, and has two more planned for 2024, in Doca de Santos, (Alcântara) and Estação de Santos (Estrela), foreseeing at least six more sirens in riverside parishes, by 2026.

The national director of risk prevention and management at the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), Carlos Mendes, presented the work carried out on the seismic risk assessment in AML, which is also used for the plan for the Algarve region.

The official also highlighted that in these types of events “the first response is mainly a proximity response”, which “often is not even carried out by organized relief structures” and that, in the first hours, “citizen mutual aid mechanisms” operate mainly. .

The emergency plan for AML and neighbouring municipalities involves more than a hundred entities “for a coordinated response” to an earthquake situation, and in the case of an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter scale, means of support from districts of outside the area, and the definition of runways for international assistance, namely the air bases of Monte Real and Beja, or Sintra and Montijo.

International support mechanisms can come from France, Spain and Morocco, but Carlos Mendes noted that, in the case of an earthquake like the one in 1755, Spain and Morocco could also be affected, and therefore help will have to be provided within the framework of other European countries.

The Lisboa E-Nova session, according to Eduardo Silva, from the organization, despite some technical problems, aimed to raise awareness of the seismic risk in the city of Lisbon and in AML, with the aim of guaranteeing a culture of prevention, urgent to anticipate not only “the capacity to respond, but also the way in which the response is given”, in a situation of possible catastrophe.



One hundred years ago the foundations of INTERPOL are laid


INTERPOL’s 91st General Assembly took place in Vienna from 28th November to 1st December 2023 and marked the organization’s 100th anniversary.

The idea of INTERPOL was born in Monaco at the first International Criminal Police Congress (14 to 18 April 1914). Officials from 24 countries discussed cooperation on solving crimes, identification techniques and extradition.

After the First World War, the idea of an international police body was revived by Johannes Schober, President of the Vienna Police. The International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the predecessor of INTERPOL, was established in September 1923 with headquarters in Vienna and with 20 founding members. It was created during the 2nd International Police Congress in Vienna in 1923. Wanted persons notices were first published in the International Public Safety Journal

The overall aim of the ICPC was to provide mutual assistance between police in different countries. Its structure and aims were documented in a series of Resolutions (available to download in the Related Documents below, in German and French). Among the main themes were: Direct police contact; Cooperation on arrests and extradition; Common languages; Creation of offices for counterfeit currency, cheques and passports; Fingerprinting techniques and records. These principles are still relevant today and continue to feature among INTERPOL’s activities.

Portugal joined the ICPC in 1924, and today remains as one of 196 INTERPOL membership countries.

Moving forward, the 4th General Assembly in Amsterdam adopted a Resolution that each member country should establish a central point of contact within its police structure. This was the forerunner of today’s National Central Bureaux (NCBs)

By 1930, specialized departments were established to deal with criminal records, currency counterfeiting and passport forgery. Data was compiled and analysed manually until the 1980s, when computerization of our records began.

In 1956, The ICPC became the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL) with the adoption of a modernized constitution. The Organization became autonomous by collecting dues from member countries and relying on financial investments. Interpol launched its international radio network, providing an independent telecommunications system solely for the use of the criminal police authorities. By 1966, 34 countries had stations and its network carried more than 90,000 messages per year

Until the 1980s when computerization began, INTERPOL’s records were kept on paper, and data was compiled and analysed manually using card index files. Today, INTERPOL provides member countries with instant, direct access to a range of criminal databases containing millions of records. These include information on names of criminals, stolen travel documents, works of art and vehicles, firearms, biometrics and child sexual exploitation images. The response time for a database query is less than a second.




Underground water reserves at risk due to climate change – according to study


Caldas da Rainha, Leiria, 30 Nov 2023 (Lusa) – Climate change could compromise the quality of existing strategic water reserves in underground ecosystems, concludes a study in 12 caves across the globe, coordinated by Portuguese scientist Ana Sofia Reboleira.

The study, published on Saturday in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, from the Nature group, analysed “an unprecedented set of data” collected over a year in caves in various parts of the globe, from subarctic to tropical regions, including in Portugal, caves in the centre of the country, in the Algarve and the Azores.

Over the course of a year, the temperature in caves and on the surface was measured every two hours, totalling more than 100,000 measurements, which “demonstrate that the temperature in the caves corresponds to the average annual surface temperature for each location”, said Ana Sofia Reboleira, Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and researcher at the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, to the Lusa agency.

According to the biologist “the caves responded with three different patterns”: one in which the variation in outside temperature is reflected in the cave with a small delay, another in which the temperatures on the surface are quickly reflected inside and, a third in which they work in mirror, the lower the surface temperature, the higher inside the cave and vice versa.

More surprising was the discovery of the “existence of daily thermal cycles in some caves”, considered by the researcher “particularly interesting because in ecosystems with a total absence of light, organisms lack circadian rhythms, that is, biological rhythms marked by the natural cadence of day and night controlled by sunlight at the surface.”

This discovery “shows that these daily thermal cycles can potentially control the biological rhythms of underground organisms”, a hypothesis that is proposed for the first time in the history of Biology.

“These ecosystems are inhabited by unique species that play a very important role in what scientists call ecosystem services” since, she explained, “it is these animals that guarantee the recycling of nutrients in depth, of some contaminants that arrive there, which control bacterial growth and other types of problems that can affect us.”

In the case of organisms adapted to low amplitudes and reduced thermal variability, the increase in temperatures by several degrees, due to climate change, “will certainly affect these organisms responsible for guaranteeing the good ecological status of these underground water bodies”, which represent 97% of total freshwater resources available for immediate human consumption.

Among the caves covered in the study, the scientist highlights the case of one in Loulé that recorded the highest surface temperature, with more than 39 degrees, and another in the Azores, with the greatest thermal amplitude, with a variation of 8.8C, explained by the fact that it is a volcanic cave.

The impact of climate change, combined with the fact that underground ecosystems “are constantly neglected in political and public agendas”, lead researchers to now move forward with laboratory studies “on the effects of rising temperatures on these organisms” aiming to estimate the maximum temperatures that these will be able to handle it.

The study now published included, in addition to the coordinator, the participation of Maria João Medina, a master’s student whose dissertation included the study, and Paulo Borges from the University of the Azores. At an international level, the work involved researchers from the United States, Serbia, Slovenia, Norway, Spain (including the Canary Islands), Croatia and the island of Guam, in the Pacific.







On 15th Safe Communities Portugal attended the Presentation given by Comandante Vitor Vaz Pinto concerning the results of DECIR Algarve 2023.

Results presented, referring to the Special Device to Combat Rural Fires (DECIR) 2023, between January 1st and October 31st, are a reflection of a high spirit of selflessness, with a sense of mission and body, of all those who contributed to the defense of our rural space against fires.

  1. Investing in the training and qualification of human resources continued to be a priority in the Region. In this context, 33 training/operational training actions were carried out, totaling 797 hours of training/training, directly involving 546 operatives from the various Civil Protection Agents (APC) and Entities with a duty of Cooperation (EC). It is worth highlighting the continued implementation of operational training actions for tracked machine (MR) operators, coming from Municipal Councils and private companies.
  2. Although the accumulated daily meteorological severity values recorded in the Algarve Region exceed the values of the decade, the area burned in the year 2023 is considerably lower than “expected” based on the behaviour of each fire given the severity recorded in the period of its development.
  3. In terms of surveillance, they were covered by operational prevention teams, namely forestry sappers (ESF), municipal forestry intervention teams (EMIF), surveillance teams from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), by the Army Portuguese and National Republican Guard (GNR) 133,665 km in 12,312 hours of patrolling.
  4. Between January 1st and October 31st, the increase in risk required the elevation of the State of Special Alert (EAE) from the Integrated Protection and Relief Operations System (SIOPS) to DECIR, in 109 days, which translated into in increasing the readiness of response forces and adopting anticipatory measures.
  5. In a collective and coordinated effort, given the increase in EAE, firefighting teams (ECIN), firefighting brigades (BCIN) and firefighting groups (GCIN), were pre-positioned in Strategic Locations of Pre-Positioning (LEPP), close to the rural areas most vulnerable to the occurrence of rural fires. There were 14,508 hours of commitment in the Barrocal and Algarve mountains.
  6. Comparing the values for the year 2023 with the history of the previous 10 years, there were 16% fewer rural fires and 44% less burned area compared to the annual average for the period under analysis.
  7. Between January 1st and October 31st, 556 occurrences were recorded, which corresponds to an increase of 15.8% compared to the same period in 2022. It should be noted that there was a substantial increase in false alarms, which represent 51, 6% of occurrences.
  8. Of the 556 occurrences, 269 were fires whose ignition originated in the region and which resulted in a burned area of 789.77 hectares (ha). Compared to the previous year, although these values represent a 28% increase in the number of fires, there was a 62% reduction in the total burned area.

  1. The Baiona fire, in the municipality of Odemira, whose burned area was more than 7,500 ha, also considerably affected the municipalities of Aljezur (1,635.85 ha) and Monchique (363.59 ha), which represents 26.5 % of the total area burned in this large fire.
  2. Analysis, by level of commitment, of the comparison between the year 2022 and the year 2023, in terms of number of fires and burned area:
  3. Of the 269 fires, 259 were controlled in the initial attack (ATI), before reaching 90 minutes of fire, counting from the time of the alert. Only 10 fires were not extinguished in the initial phase, even though they benefited from a muscular ATI. The burned area that resulted from these fires represents 95.5% of the total area burned in fires started in the region.
  4. The municipalities of Loulé (62), Albufeira (33) and Silves (31) had the highest number of fires. However, in either case, the fires are mostly small in size (do not exceed 1 hectare of burned area). The most affected municipality, in terms of the burned area, is Aljezur with 1,924 hectares (1635.85 ha resulting from the Odemira fire), followed by Monchique with 412 hectares (363.59 ha resulting from the Odemira fire) and Castro Marim with 331 hectares.

  1. In 2023, fires with a burned area of less than 1 hectare were the most frequent, representing 94% of total rural fires. There were only 3 fires with a burned area exceeding 100 hectares. No fire was recorded, starting in the region, whose burned area exceeded 350 ha.
  2. Saturday is the day of the week with the highest number of fires recorded (45).
  3. 16% of fires had a starting time of 2 pm. It should be noted that 15% of fires occurred at night, that is, between 9 pm and 6 am.
  4. Of the total of 269 rural fires that occurred in the Region until October 31, all were investigated and the cause investigation process has been completed. The investigation allowed the attribution of a cause for 161 fires, the most frequent causes being the use of fire, accidents and arson.
  5. Heavy machinery was used in 11 fires, with 41 MRs being mobilized to fight fires. There were 449 hours of work (the equivalent of 18 days of operation).
  6. ATI air assets were committed to 264 missions. Of these, 53 missions involved intervention, which resulted in 43 fires being controlled outside the theater of operations (TO), representing an effectiveness rate of 81.1% in this dimension of the device.
  7. As performance indicators, the operational objectives established by National Operational Directive (DON) no. 2 – DECIR were observed, with the Region recording average media dispatch times of 50 seconds, a value that reflects the effectiveness of this process, well below the maximum time of 2 minutes provided for the entire continental territory.
  8. 20. The first land resources to arrive at the TO took, on average, 11 minutes and 42 seconds, well below the 20 minutes foreseen in DON no. 2 – DECIR. Regarding the arrival time of air resources from ATI to TO, the average was 8 minutes. The average fire resolution time was 34 minutes and 52 seconds, and the operating concept envisages putting out fires in their initial phase, up to 90 minutes after the alert.




Did you know?

World’s first earthquake detector was invented 2000 years ago in China

A seismograph is an instrument that detects and measures the motions of the ground as a result of seismic waves gushing from an earthquake, volcanic eruption or powerful explosion.

Today, there are thousands of such instruments dispersed in key places around the world that constantly keep watch, gather data and help seismologists better their understanding of how earthquakes work.

You might be surprised to find, however, that the first seismograph was invented in China in 132 AD by a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, engineer, and inventor called Zhang Heng.

The instrument was said to resemble a wine jar nearly two metres in diameter, with eight dragons positioned face down along the outside of the barrel, marking the primary compass directions. In each dragon’s mouth was a small bronze ball. Beneath the dragons sat eight bronze toads, with their broad mouths gaping to receive the balls.

When the instrument sensed an incoming seismic wave, one of the balls would drop and the sound would alert observers to the earthquake, giving a rough indication of the earthquake’s direction of origin.

. The device is said to have been very accurate and could detect earthquakes from afar, and did not rely on shaking or movement in the location where the instrument was positioned. The first ever earthquake recorded by this seismograph was supposedly somewhere in the east. Days later, a rider from there reported this earthquake

The insides of the seismometer was filled with a sensing mechanism of some sort, the contents of which have been lost in time. In all likelihood, a simple or inverted pendulum was employed, according to experts

In 2005, scientists in Zengzhou, China built a replica of Zhang’s seismograph, estimating the content of the inner mechanism by using technology that was available during the great inventor’s time. They used the replica to detect simulated earthquakes based on waves from four different real-life earthquakes in China and Vietnam. The seismograph detected all of them. As a matter of fact, the data gathered from the tests corresponded accurately with that collected by modern-day seismograph.

Book about Zhang Heng’s invention is available from Amazon – could be an interesting read…/dp/1641701684

They don’t make scientific instruments like they used to!







The aim of the gathering is to learn more about the operations of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) and the Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviária (ANSR) (National Road Safety Authority) over the Christmas and New Year festive period, in terms of their priorities and tips we can learn from them in order to have a safe festive period. Information will also be provided by Camara do Municipal de Sāo Brás de Alportel.

The focus will be on: Security of property over Christmas period especially if property will be empty, safe driving, Police enforcement and processes, reporting suspicious activities and crime, on-line scams especially shopping scams and safety tips.

Apart from the presenters we are honoured that Coronel Carlos Almeida Comandante Comando Territorial de Faro da GNR, as well as Presidente da ANSR, Professor Doutor Rui Ribeiro will be present, so this will be a good opportunity to meet them personally.

There will be plenty of time for engagement with the presenters, as one of the aims is to discuss and answer your questions, on topics of interest to you. As we know during this period, people maybe away on holiday leaving their property unoccupied, pre-Christmas shopping on-line with the potential for scams, as well as a seasonable increase in road accidents and issues such as drink driving.

The location is: R. Dr. José Dias Sancho 61, 8150-141 São Brás de Alportel and there is adequate parking nearby.

To ensure there is adequate seating for all, please confirm that you will be attending contacting no later than 14th November. We look forward to meeting you.