02 July 2012

Gorda Beach

The first time I visited Gorda Beach was just last week, in order to get pictures for this blogpost. Pathetic, huh? I know, and I'm extremely embarrassed. Look at this beach! It's a treasure, an ecological sanctuary, home to countless species of indigenous flora, including bromeliads, cacti and orchids at one end, and a unique stone mangrove swamp at the other end. Gorda Beach is studied by geologists, botanists and environmentalists from around the world for its extremely rare ecosystem. I couldn't get over the rock formations, their colors (various shades of purple and red and white), the variety of plant life, the wonderful and peaceful feeling I experienced just 15 minutes from my house.

Kind of makes you wonder why, then, our municipal government has approved plans for — listen carefully now — a 221-house condominium to be built immediately adjacent to this environmentally-protected area. Even before the ink was dry on the approval documents, the "Gran Riserva 95" (as it calls itself, trying to sound like a fine wine) had set up stands around town to sell these condos-to-be for prices ranging from R$195,000 to R$250,000 ($94,200 to $120,800), pretty cheap by Búzios standards and clearly priced for quick sales. The stage was set for the inevitable collision between developers and scientists/environmentalists, but even the most complacent bystander can see the harm such a huge condominium, with its leisure areas, tennis courts, pools, bars, barbecue pits, restaurants, convenience stores and parking areas would pose to a nearby fragile ecosystem. Anybody really believe the sewage from such a project will not run off onto Gorda Beach? And exactly how did a project that runs counter to the town's own legal development plan, with its carefully established directives as to what can be built where, get approved in the first place? It really boggles the mind, even one as cynical as mine.  

Right now the environmentalists hold the upper hand. A judicial decision handed down just last month has stopped the construction. Noncompliance with the court's order will result in prison terms and a fine of R$30,000 per day ($15,000). And the construction company's web site does have up the following announcement: "As vendas encontram-se temporariamente suspensas" (sales have been temporarily suspended). Let's see for how long, since we all know that history has proven time and again that money talks.

One end of Gorda Beach

With its purply-white rock formations

Peaceful, remote, and full of interesting indigenous flora

Heading towards the mangrove swamp end

Beginning of the mangrove swamp

It just gets more . . . 

. . . and more gorgeous

What can we do to help save this place?

One of five "villas" being projected for Gorda Beach. In order to get construction approval, the developers assured the authorities that the houses would be built far from the beach. But in order to sell houses, this promotional material shows otherwise. As if no one will notice a difference.

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