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Area Praia da Rocha
Place Portimão
Country Portugal
Topics Coastal Management | Risk | Tourism
Author(s) Tatiana Nascimento
Algarve Praia da Rocha.jpg


The tourism boom that happened during the last century in the south coastal area in Portugal, in this case of study the Praia da Rocha "Stone's Beach" in English, obligates to an artificial increasing of the coastal sand terrain. According to the theme of coastal landscapes, it's important on this case of study: To understand how the coastal zone of Praia da Rocha is managed, which has evolved exponentially since the last century; The risk that may be implicit in depending on this management as to the singularity of the place.

Location and scope

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A Landscape System Analysis

A.1 Landscape layers and their system context

Geomorphology, landscape units and coastal typology

  • Beach supplied by sedimentary exchange with the submerged delta bank of the Arade River
  • Beach Artificial Nourishment
  • Coastal Zone - Beach composed by landforms as rock cliffs, caves, arches, and stacks

Land use

  • Ends of XIX century this coastal zone was a small village with agriculture as main activity, some small business commerce and recreation, where the Casino had a big amount of profits. Then a big investment has made this zone developed with a tourism related vision. So the small village turned a urban centre with lots of tourists at the Summer season. The upgrade in the commerce and recreation, makes the tourism boom in this region that developed without management.

Green/blue infrastructure

  • Elements:

Praia da Rocha is the strip of sand that has tendency to disappear because of the coastal erosion.

The agriculture fields on the green infrastructure have tendency to disappear to be converted in tourism resorts or building areas.

Actors and stakeholders

  • The coast is mainly owned by tourism companies and is ruled by a speacial law: the Coastline Planning Plan Brunau-Vilamoura (POOC Brunau-Vilamoura). Residents are the most affected by any changes in the management of this place and tourists are affected but they still have some power by their choices to make changes on the development of the coast.

Sacred spaces and heritage

  • Santa Catarina Fortress - a dominant position on a hill at the eastern end of Praia da Rocha, near the Arade River, this fortification defended the town and the Arade River bar cooperating with the Forte de São João do Arade on the opposite bank of the river in Ferragudo. During the Philippine Dynasty, this fort was built during the reign of Philip III, in the place where there was already a chapel dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, which still remains the primitive Gothic portal inside. With the earthquake of 1755, this fortification suffered heavy damage. In the twentieth century it was occupied by the Maritime Police and the Fiscal Guard, and also served as a restaurant, café and ice cream parlor. Currently the strong dependencies are used as a place of leisure for tourists who demand the Praia da Rocha and the adjacent Marina of Portimão.
  • Place Alcalar – about 5,000 years, a prehistoric community settled and lived in this place, which established a village defended by walls, trenches and embankments, built homes, from which they built an important set of megalithic tombs. The remains found allow to know their way of life, his activities, of the occupation and use of this place. The relationship with death is reflected in the forms of construction of different types of tombs from the mass graves to the specially intended for heads and their families. Discovered and explored since the late nineteenth century, the megalithic monuments of Alcalar are classified as National Monument. Alcalar, two of these funerary monuments are open to the public and allow a direct contact with the processes and materials used in its construction.
  • School Farm – one rapprochement space to the countryside, experience and values of rural areas as important for the growth of an urban population increasingly away from this reality. This farm brings to the city all that the field is good, all his teachings, all their life experiences.
  • Portimão Museum – to observe closely some of the original parts, found in different monuments and the village, thus achieving a better understanding of the cultural legacy of this ancient community. To discover and get to know more about the life of these communities in prehistory, this museum has prepared a diverse set of activities: both guided tours a day in Pre-history; Sounds of nature; Hunters of prehistory; Builders of monuments; Pottery / Soenga; Weaving; Whittle Stone; Milling; Alcalar Interpretation Centre.
  • Convent of São Francisco or Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança – former Franciscan convent of the sixteenth century, Manueline and Mannerist style, situated along the Arade river in the city of Portimão and currently is in a state of degradation. Founded in 1530 by Simon Correia, captain Azamor and important figure of the Algarve in the sixteenth time, this convent was born in a house donation made to the Observant Friars of the Franciscan Province of Portugal. Still unaware of the early life of this religious institution, since the establishment of the brothers just happened in 1541 given some divergences within the peninsular Franciscans. However, parish records archive 1734 allow to conclude that the convent building works began soon after its founding. In those same records relates that when the first friars arrived at the scene, found the church ever built; on the other hand, on the main entrance of the building there was a coat with the arms of Simão Correia, proving the personal commitment of the settlor in the building of the monastery complex. In the earthquake of 1755 took place the first great moment of destruction of the building, with the collapse of the church dome and numerous convent buildings, which led to the temporary transfer of the religious community to the Church of the Holy Body. Soon after the extinction of religious orders, the convent now has several functions that nonreligious, all of which contributed to its slow destruction. This convent has been classified as a Public Interest Property by IGESPAR.
  • Castle of Alvor – also called Albur Castle or Fortress of Alvor, this is located in the village and the town of Alvor, Portimão county. In a dominant position on a hill, opposite the Atlantic Ocean, it is considered a significant military monument in the Algarve, with its history associated with the neighboring Silves Castle. A recent archaeological research, showed a primitive human occupation through an important pre-Roman fortified shopping center, which maintained its activity during the Roman occupation and after. At the time of Muslim occupation, the defensive system of the town deepened, although not yet fully understood by scholars: the defense provided by the Moorish castle was reinforced by complementary strongholds, between it and the sea. In the context of the campaign of conquest of Silves, D. Sancho I of Portugal tried taking Alvor since 1187. As later with the strengthening of a Crusaders armed from Denmark and Friesland who attacked and conquered the Castle of Alvor, anticipating the siege and taking of Silves Castle, depending on who enroll. The position of Silves was held by Christians until 1191. Although it has remained one of the main towns in the Algarve, due to the excellence of its cove here and died King John II, they were not found information about the evolution of military architecture the village and its castle. At the time of the Philippine Dynasty, the passage of the sixteenth century to the seventeenth, in the context of conflicts between Spain and the northern powers, the Algarve sea fortifications were modernized and strengthened. About Alvor, Alexandre Massai, Neapolitan military engineer in the service of Spain, said his defense was ineffective on the capacity of the artillery of the time, which contributed to the abandonment of the structure in favor of new fortifications, forces concentrators at points- keys of the south coast of Portugal. Faced with the loss of its defensive function, the castle was gradually surrounded by the town growth over the centuries, it has been falling in ruins. In the late twentieth century, the castle was classified as a Public Interest in 1984, and was turned into a children’s garden, commemorating the Christian conquest of the town.

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • Special elements: rocks, sand and sea
  • The Legend of Praia da Rocha

There was a mermaid that, it is not well known how it ended up on the great rocks of a sandy tongue on the Algarve coast. There she rested for a long trip to enjoy the beautiful landscape from the top of each rock road. Until one day she heard someone coming, and waking up she saw an old man claiming to be a son of the sea. He said that all that water, from there to the edge of the horizon and even to the oceanic realms beyond what the eye could see was his. And so in love was the mermaid that if she accepted marriage, he would share this aquatic kingdom with her. Forever. The mermaid was preparing to respond, but at that moment another old man came, coming from the continental side. He said that he was the son of the Hills, and that the territories that remained north of the cliff, and that went up to the hills were his property. That if he left the son of the Sea and accepted him instead, all the flowers and shrubs and trees and hills and valleys could be gardens of his own. The Mermaid did not know what to do and let them both compete for their love. And so it was. For centuries: the Sea seduced with its rippling and the movement of each tide, the mountain with its fruits and flowers. And it all lasted a long time. so much so that the mermaid was turned into fine sand and the two suitors maintained their game of forces and truces. Now pushing himself or herself by helping each other forming what we know today by Praia da Rocha. It is interesting to note as the legend, although it isn't just that, it hides a scientific side - the fact that a beach is built by erosion caused between land and sea (and wind, already). In this case decorated it with a third party, the mermaid, a reference of national folklore, especially in the Portuguese coast. Is that, curiously, is also a symbiosis of these same elements (the half woman representing the land and the half fish representing the ocean). From adapted

A.2 Summary of you landscape system analysis and your development Targets

The tourism boom that this beach had, obligates to an artificial increasing of the coastal sand terrain.

In this case of study, I want to understand how the coastal management affects the visual quality of this landscape.

A.3 Theory reflection

 Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. From United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

From this goal, is visible that the response of artificial nourishment isn't a sustainable solution for the future. That's why it's important to see which solutions can be applied to help this landscape to be sustainable in a long-term.

 It is the biggest maritime sector in terms of gross value added and employment and, according to the Blue Growth StudySearch (...), is expected to grow by 2-3% by 2020. From European Commission Maritime Spatial Planning European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism

Tourism is expected to grow, and with the quantity that we have until now, that's lots of it, it will reach a maximum limit of land consumption. So it's necessary to see how is this progression changing the landscape and the risk of continuing expanding.

 Genuinely sustainable development depends on appropriate long-term management and maintenance of the site’s assets, including the GI. From Landscape Institute. Green Infrastructure: An Integrated Approach to Land Use. Position statement, 2013.

In this sentence is explicit the need of integrate both, blue and green infrastructure, for a sustainable development. In POOC Burnau-Vilamoura, we already integrate the biodiversity and protected some risk areas but still, it needs to be consider, how the visual quality of the landscape is being developed and how this affects for the future generations.

A.4 References

Phase B: Landscape Evaluation and Assessment

B.1 Assessment Strategy

  • Regulatory review for the uses of the beach.
  • Valorization and qualification of the beach in the tourist and environmental surroundings.
  • The orientation of the development of the activities in the coastal zone.
  • These goals have the relationship whit the thematic of a risk of losing sand (land) and loss of identity by human exposure.
  • The tourism, economic activities (fishery), and natural water spaces.

B.2 Mapping

B.3 Problem definition and priority setting

  • The main problem that are found on this area are: Lack of opportunity for fishing activity to develop sustainably due to lack of enforcement and increased illegal activity that minimize populations of different marine species; Although the law protects the cliffs and the coastal zone, does not specify what the landscape is to protect in that area, that is, a breach in the law that can easily be shaped by large tourism companies, Also the fact that the population of the urban center is spandir to the coast is a factor to be taken into account in this evaluation because it demonstrates the loss of natural area previously used for the agricultural activity for the continuous waterproofing of the soils and the continuous modification of the identity of that one area.

  • Priorities and Targets: To reconcile future urban, tourist and equipment occupations with the natural, cultural, landscape and risk factors, proposing safeguard measures according to the Landscape Architecture.

B.4 Theory reflection

  By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans. Goal 14 Sustainable Development Goals 

It is this objective that serves as a guide for the fishing activity in this area, since it is necessary to start making this activity sustainable so that both fish species and the ecosystems of that area of the beach are possible to restore over time and for generations to come.

 B.3 14) Local authorities, in cooperation with spheres of government and relevant partners, should: (f) Apply urban and territorial planning to identify, revitalize, protect and produce high-quality public and green spaces with special ecological or heritage value, integrating the contributions of the private sector and civil society organizations into such undertakings, and to avoid the creation of heat islands, protect the local biodiversity and support the creation of multifunctional public green spaces, such as wetlands for rainwater retention and absorption. "in UN HABITAT. International Guidelines on Urban and Regional Planning

The area of Praia da Rocha, with its character as a fishing beach and several rocks and cliffs that give it its name, must be planned according to its identity and this will be one of the objectives for the planning of this area.

 Local distinctiveness GI assets that engage local communities and which relate to landscape character and heritage can enhance the local sense of place and foster community spirit. They can be a catalyst for regeneration and community ownership and can stimulate job opportunities by attracting investment and tourism. Landscape Institute. Green Infrastructure: An Integrated Approach to Land Use. Position statement, 2013
Tourism, which has been one of the economic activities with development in this region, needs to integrate local activities and integrate planning and solutions to achieve sustainable development.
  • The main limitation of the case study was the time factors (derived from the internship and other extracurricular activities of the student) and the lack of application in the place.

B.5 References

  • "POOC Vilamoura-Vila Real de Santo António, 121/27 July 2005"
  • "UN HABITAT. International Guidelines on Urban and Regional Planning"
  • "Landscape Institute. Green Infrastructure: An Integrated Approach to Land Use. Position statement, 2013"
  • "Goal 14 Sustainable Development Goals"

Phase C – Strategy and Master Plan

C.1 Goal Setting

  • Make high-maintenance sports more sustainable -> tourism control;
  • Make local products more accessible to everyone (lower costs);
  • Benefit from the use of local resources to support the exploitation of agriculture and sustainable fisheries -> Use of the space identity;
  • To monitor intensive fishing for the protection of marine fauna;
  • Regulate the use of the beach resort so that the artificial supply of beach sand is not used in excess with the intention of increasing the beach terrain -> lost of sand (land);
  • Creation of green corridors that connect the different green zones of the urban area, benefiting the local fauna and flora;
  • Surveillance and increase of protection of cliffs and primary and secondary dunes as it appears in the POOC and identification of existing landmarks in the landscape and due regulation of their protection;
  • Workshops for learning traditional fishing and their customs;
  • Workshops on local fauna and flora and protection of biodiversity.

C.2 Spatial Strategy and Transect

Praia da Rocha ID

  • Vision: The past is for reflection and the future marks for its impression on the space.

C.3 From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • Partnership: Government, Tourism entrepreneurs, local merchants, local associations as Contramaré (Cultural), Commercial Association of Portimão, Afpop (Foreign Owners), ADAP (Animal Protection); Local community, Tourists, etc.

Regent governance model : POOC Burnau Vilamoura ( Coastal Planning Plan, a special plan that protects this site according to the legislation in Portugal) Resources: Law, investments, regulation of the market (valuing local products), workshops, community work

C.4 References

  • "POOC Vilamoura-Vila Real de Santo António, 121/27 July 2005"
  • "Goal 14 Sustainable Development Goals"
  • ""
  • "PU,PDM, and Regulation of Portimão (Diário da República, 2.ª série — N.º 141 — 22 de Julho de 2010 MUNICÍPIO DE PORTIMÃO Aviso n.º 14572/2010)"

D. Process Reflection

  • As I did not participate in a work group, I have the feeling that this work has many parts that needed more time for the correct accomplishment and due deepening in the contents. Also, the fact that I can not spend more time in the production of articles made it difficult for me to present more coherent and coherent details or solutions. Even so, the experience was worth the learning process.