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Christian environmentalists nab scofflaw

Europe | Natural Environment

Lapido Media -- CONSERVATION BODIES were today jubilant about an ‘unprecedented’ verdict against a rogue developer in what could be a first for religiously literate ecology.

A Rocha, the only international Christian conservation organization, headed up a consortium of charities that secured a suspended two-year prison sentence for Portuguese development magnate Aprígio Santos.

This is thought to be the first time a custodial sentence has been handed out to an individual for environmental crime.

Simon Marsh, Head of Planning Policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the win was ‘a huge credit to A Rocha’.

‘We are not aware of any other example of a developer receiving a custodial sentence for habitat destruction,’ he added.

Santos, who also owns a football club, has regularly flouted the law in an attempt to begin building on rare marshland at Ria (estuary) de Alvor on the southern coast of the country.

Santos met his match in A Rocha – whose name means ‘Rock’ – founded in 1983 specifically to protect this estuary habitat which is home to a staggering 273 species of bird and 500 of moth.

A Rocha founder Peter Harris said the successful five-year campaign could have ramifications not just for European tourism, but among groups campaigning for increased awareness of the religious dimension to habitat management and campaigns.

"I don’t know in the history of the church a single other occasion when Christians have secured a legal judgment for environmental crime," Harris said.

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