In Portugal’s Rural North, Communities Are Resisting Lithium Mining

In Portugal’s Rural North, Communities Are Resisting Lithium Mining

The remarkable heritage and ecology of Barroso are at risk amid an EU push to secure minerals for a ‘green transition’

As the sun begins its gradual descent in the mountains of Barroso, in northeast Portugal, it casts golden hues upon the region’s vast pine and oak forests. The air fills with the gentle hum of bees collecting nectar from the heather that blankets the rugged landscape in swaths of vivid purple and pink.

August is the peak season for honey, when the heather is in full bloom. Carlos “Libo” Goncalves is as busy as his bees. After taking his horses up the oak-studded hills that surround the village of Covas do Barroso, he dons his protective gear and hurries to the hives he has spread across his village’s common lands.

With an expertise that comes from years of practice, Libo collects the dark heather honey of Barroso, a prized product with a protected designation of origin. The region is one of only ten in Europe recognized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a Globally Important Agricultural System — a landscape that combines agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage.

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