Results of the survey about Quinta dos Ingleses
The SOS Quinta dos Ingleses Association has conducted a survey between Nov 13th 2022 and February 15th 2023. The survey aimed to gather information about the opinions of citizens living in the Cascais municipality and, more generally, in the Lisbon metropolitan area, with questions about its landscape, meaning and use value, as well as the final use that the city council has in mind.
The survey was conceived based on 28 questions with direct answers and/or multiple choice, and some of them allowed the possibility to include comments. Adding final feedback was also an option. It was made public through social media and the SOS Quinta dos Ingleses website (sosquintadosingleses.com), and was answered by 1354 people.
Based on survey results, the Association could extract relevant information about the respondent universe. Thus, 99,2% are adults, of legal age (only 0,8% said they were younger than 18 years), 73,3% live in Cascais, 12,5% in Oeiras municipality e 14,2% in other municipalities. This data allows us to infer that Quinta dos Ingleses is also known and visited by people who do not reside in Cascais municipality.
This survey allows to deduce that there is an expressive and unequivocal interest for the conservation of the centenary forest space of Quinta dos Ingleses: 97,2% of the respondents (1348 answers) consider that Quinta dos Ingleses is an active environmental asset, notwithstanding acknowledging the existence of some problems like the degradation of the biophysical and landscape space (the buildings in ruins, the bad state of some of the trees) or the lack of security of the space due to its use by drug addicts and/or delinquents.
The identification of the Quinta dos Ingleses as an environmental asset is independent from the recognition of its historical significance. To the question “Do you know the historical value of the Quinta dos Ingleses” (1347 answers), 79,1% answered “yes” and a minority of 20,9%, nevertheless not insignificant, answered “no” (“historical value” covers facts like the Quinta having had a wine production in the past by the Alagoa Majorat, the role of the Quinta in the defence of the coastline during the French invasions or the military support during the civil war in 1827-1832, or its importance to the launching of the telegraphic communications via submarine cables by the English).
Activities in Nature
The recognition of the environmental value of the Quinta dos Ingleses does not necessarily imply a relation with its utility, which indicates that, for many people, environment is a value per se, and does not depend on utilitarian aspects. To the question “Have you been involved in any activity with your school or family in the Quinta dos Ingleses?” (1344 answers) 72,6% answered “yes” and 27,4% of the respondents said “no”.
The answers to the question “When you visit Quinta dos Ingleses, what activities do you prefer to do there?” (1210 answers) allow us to identify how the natural space of the Quinta is used. The most popular activities mentioned were: walking (69,6%), biking (13,1%), walking the dog (10,4%). Under the title “Other” (6,8%), the following activities were the most outlined: running, observation of nature (fauna, flora), meditation, relaxation and resting, phonography/photography, gathering of wild fruit (blackberries, pine cones, mushrooms) and flowers, playing with children, being with family and friends, picnics and rubbish collecting. Some answers indicate that people also use the Quinta for practical purposes, for instance to get to the beach or parking the car. As to the possibility of creating a forest school in the future, 70,3% (948 respondents out of 1348) know that the Quinta is regularly visited by some schools in Carcavelos for activities in nature and outdoor classrooms, showing that the Quinta is being used for that purpose.
The Association considers that it is greatly important to reflect on what people think about the safety of the Quinta from the user’s point of view, and thus the survey has tried to evaluate if people think that “the Quinta is a dangerous place to take a walk in”. There were 1345 valid answers, of which 82,2% said “no”, 8,7% said “yes” and 9,1% had no opinion. If we analyse the answers saying “yes”, we find that the insecurity problems mentioned are not intrinsic to the natural space of the Quinta itself, but to its “bad use” or to “deviant behaviors” (drug use, delinquency, prostitution), as well as the physical degradation of the land (illegal dump, degradation, and lack of maintenance of the woods, lack of planning and nature conservation).
URBANIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
The survey also aimed to establish the citizens’ degree of knowledge and adherence to the urbanisation project of Quinta dos Ingleses approved and promoted by Cascais city council. 89,8% of the respondents (1351 valid answers) know or claim to know what is planned for Quinta dos Ingleses (Detailed Plan for Urban Restructuring for Carcavelos South – PPERUCS), against 9,5% who say they do not know what is planned for this landscape unit; however, only 57,7% know that the promoters are the building enterprise Alves Ribeiro and St. Julian’s Association.
As to approving the PPERUCS, 90,6% of the respondents answered “no”, against a small minority of 3,6% who answered “yes”. The remaining respondents did not have an opinion. The destruction of the Quinta dos Ingleses will lead to a significant change in the landscape according to 91,6% of the respondents, who think that the Carcavelos beach is going to be affected by the drastic change of the soil if the urbanisation project goes ahead.
As far as the Parliament’s recommendation to classify the Quinta dos Ingleses as a protected landscape of local scope, 60% say they know about the recommendation; 95,2% of the respondents say they agree with this recommendation and only 4,8% disagree with it, which reveals the common opinion in favour of the conservation of the Quinta and also the public recognition of its interest and patrimonial value. The answer “no” seems to have been used not only for the opinions against the classification but also for those in favour of it, which indicates some general disinformation of the public about this subject.
Taking into account the need to mobilise more material means to put into practice the conservation of the Quinta dos Ingleses, it was asked if the respondents knew about the existence of EU funding available to this end, in case Quinta dos Ingleses is classified as protected landscape of local scope and the PPERUCS is revoked. Out of the 1349 answers obtained, 79% said they did not know about the existence of such funds and only 21% of respondents answered they knew about the funds.
As far as the possibility of giving monetary compensation to the land owners and rights holders of Quinta dos Ingleses, of the 1323 valid answers 86,2% were in favour of such compensation. 13,8% of the respondents were opposed to a compensation, and among the various reasons given for this opinion were the conviction that no compensation is due when the environment is at stake; acquired rights should not override the rights of the population; a land swap should be favoured; the legitimacy of the whole urbanisation process; being against the expropriation concept; or considering that construction on the coast line should obey the national guidelines.
Concerning the actions taken in defence of Quinta dos Ingleses, namely the initiatives of several movements that take the defence of this space – SOS Quinta dos Ingleses, Alvorada da Floresta, Fórum por Carcavelos – out of 1333 answers 86% of the respondents consider that these are having an impact for its preservation, against 14% who think they aren’t, and it was considered that the most efficient types of contesting were protests/demonstrations (43,7%), followed by dissemination on social networks (33,1%), crowdfunding for the acquisition of the Quinta dos Ingleses (13,1%) and others (10,1%), like the participation by political and environmental entities, appealing to European institutions, didactic and cultural events, advertising the cause in the streets of Carcavelos and judicial action.
Finally, it was asked if the respondents of the survey were associates, volunteers or participants in the above mentioned movements. 57,2% of the 1347 answers said no, which shows that only 576 people (42,8%) are directly linked to an active defence of Quinta dos Ingleses. This allows the conclusion that although the population is not actively involved in the defence of the Quinta (lack of availability, lack of knowledge, family/professional reasons or geographical distance), the general opinion is that Quinta dos Ingleses must be preserved. 84,5% favour the creation of an urban parc and only 1,1% (15 answers out of 1336) the urbanisation; the remaining 14,4% would like a natural parc or wild nature (the majority of those); no intervention; a space for permaculture or horticulture; a cultural and artistic pole; a balanced solution of building and natural spaces; public recreational, ecologic and sport infrastructures; urban parc with ecologic and sustainable projects or ecovillage.