Projects in partnership with the Maio City Council
By Andre Amaral, 14 Dec 2019 8:38
Those who arrive by boat in Maio cannot fail to notice that right there at the foot of the pier a new building was born between the sea and the salt marshes of English Harbor. Included in a larger project for the revitalization and requalification of the salt pans, the Salinas do Maio Interpretive Center wants to bring to the island another tourist and economic dynamic.
“The Center is one of the results of the Maio Island tourist requalification and revitalization project, which has been taking place since 2016 and which aims to create conditions for tourism to be developed on a solidary and community basis and at the same time that there is a cultural environment around it. of what is the heritage of the island, the cultural, traditional heritage. Be the salt, be the plaster, the lime. Everything that is local products,”begins by saying Hermínia Ribeiro, from the Marquês de Valle Flor Institute (IMVF), a Portuguese institution that since 2001 has been developing several projects in partnership with the Maio City Council.
Hermínia Ribeiro assures that the main objective of this Salinas do Maio Interpretive Center is to ensure that “there is an improvement in the quality of life of Maio residents, but also to offer a quality product to outsiders. The project had several areas of intervention. There was all the saline requalification part and the warehouse refurbishment where the ladies work the salt and this construction of the Porto Inglês Salinas Interpretive Center is the culmination of all the work over these three and a half years”.
Inaugurated last Saturday - in a ceremony attended by the ambassadors of Portugal and the European Union, the Mayor of Maio and members of the administration of the Marquês de Valle Flor Institute - the center aims to have a cultural and knowledge product “that values the and explains to us the importance of salt over the centuries and to the present day ”and also“ the way salt adds value to other products, valuing what this local heritage is not only as a income generating activity , but also the uses it has in food preservation, which it also has and therapeutic terms. Therefore, the various valences that salt has and the importance it has had since currency a few centuries ago until now as an essential product and that is present in every house”, highlights Hermínia Ribeiro.
The idea is now to present a proposal that attracts a differentiated tourism because, added to the center, there are also the trails that can be made to visit the saline and is the birdwatching post.
“We want a tourism not only of resort and beach, but also of cultural and of environmental valorization”, says the one responsible of the IMVF. For the near future there is also the “more therapeutic component through the health benefits of salt. This part may still happen later since it is not integrated into the valences already available, but there is a whole venture around the salt, from interpretation, knowledge and culture to contact with nature, nature protection and all the surrounding with the flora and fauna of the island”.
There were several partners that the IMVF had to make the project of the Salinas do Maio Interpretive Center a reality. One of them was the Maio Biodiversity Foundation.
“The ongoing project is formally partnered by the Marquês de Valle Flor Institute, the Loures City Council and the Maio City Council. Its associate and financier are SDTIBM and the European Union, Portuguese cooperation, as the largest financiers. and also a part of the Tourism Fund at the Interpretive Center,” explains Hermínia Ribeiro.
As for the Maio Biodiversity Foundation, he explains, “It was a first-time partner in implementing the activities. The project touches on a number of areas that are the foundation's areas of intervention whether in environmental preservation, turtle preservation or awareness raising campaigns. We have signed a protocol (Chamber, Institute and Foundation) so that in the areas that are areas of intervention, par excellence, of the foundation there would be a partnership in the implementation of these activities and also a convergence of objectives and intervention so as not to jeopardize the work that was being made by the foundation.”
To the Islands Express, Sara Ratão, marine biologist and coordinator of that institution's maritime and land programs, explains that the foundation's work is essentially environmental. “We carry out many types of censuses, including in the salt marshes of Porto Inglês and hence our participation in this project. Regarding the center itself, our role was at the time it was built, because as it is a building within a protected area we assessed the impact it could have on birds. Because that is an area of international importance for migratory birds. In addition we have also provided some support where some signaling arrows could be placed and also some support for feedback from environmental impact studies.”
Importance of the center for Maio
The hope is that the center will play an important role in boosting the island's tourism and economy. “On most islands, to my knowledge, there is no interpretive center. Therefore, having one here is very important, especially for the opportunities it can give to the part of open conversations that can give not only with schools and local communities, but also with tourists, ”says Sara Ratão, who sees the location of the center. another plus. "As it is a point right there at the entrance of the island, at the foot of the pier, I think it gives a good image of Maio, being one more point of interest for the island."
Because it is located at the entrance to the salt pans, the Interpretive Center can also play an important educational role. “We have developed with the Chamber and the Valle Flor Institute some informative panels on what types of birds can be observed. Within another project, but also in collaboration with the City Council, we are going to develop another bird identification panel to be inside the salt observatory and we are thinking of making a leaflet with basic information and so people can make a checklist of observed birds, ”adds Sara Ratão.
Many projects with positive results
IMVF has been working in May since 2001.
“We started a partnership with the Maio City Council and also with its inhabitants, in terms of collaboration, this year, in terms of identifying needs and collaborating in the development of the development plan of the municipal plan to fight poverty,” he explains. Hermínia Ribeiro, who ensures that after identifying “the various needs and needs that existed, but also the opportunities we had to work, Maio is one of the islands that has given us the greatest return on the investment that is made”.
The work of the IMVF has been developed in close partnership with the municipality "in preparing the applications, identifying the needs and possibilities of work" followed by the applications and "various funders who have approved these projects".
“We have projects since 2003 so far, the last one will end in 2020, and there has been a good return. There have been concrete results that impact on people's lives and have allowed us to continue this intervention. Any investment in the island has had a visible return and consequences. There is an answer and we can be confident of the partners we work with because we know the results will come and so we have continued to work with Maio over time, ”says Hermínia Ribeiro who sees in Maio“ an island that has many needs, has a major difficulty in transport, accessibility, which has hindered further development which was intended faster both in terms of tourism and in economic terms for families, but it has all the potential that leads us to believe that the partnership is worth continuing and help get new funding.”
Prevent fall in the doldrums
Now that the center is open, it is important to prevent it from falling into oblivion. “It can always happen, it's true. I think what is important in this type of project, and one of the things I have noticed that sometimes fails, is the disclosure part. It is necessary to have a good communication and dissemination strategy that mainly reaches an audience that is interested in this type of centers, whether tourists or schools,” argues Sara Ratão.
Hermínia Ribeiro has been working with and in Maio since IMVF started the first project on that island.
“Personally, because I've been following work in Maio since the beginning, it's already 18 years coming to Maio, it's a work of life,” he acknowledges in an interview with Expresso das Ilhas.
“I've learned a lot from Maio, I've suffered a lot from Maio, but the results we are having are very gratifying. Mainly by the appropriation by local institutions, by the people, of the associations. It is a very rewarding job to see all the way we network, how each project builds on each other, from the involvement of the associations in the Participatory Budget. Maio is the only municipality in the country that still has a Participatory Budget operating at the will of the populations, associations, the Chamber itself and the Municipal Assembly. So there are a lot of results, from projects that have been going very well here in Maio and often not known,” he concludes.
Text originally published in the printed edition of Expresso Islands 941 of December 11, 2019.
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