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Frontpage News 2012 Portuguese environmental research

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Local environmental research with international objectives in Portugal

  • At the University of Porto in Portugal, environmental research is also being carried out with support from the EEA Grants. Led by Dr José Rocha e Silva, a €1 million project to train students and teachers across Portugal in collecting and measuring scientific data is now well underway.

    Supported by a €0.9 million grant from the EEA Grants, the research project breaks new ground in its attempt to implement Agenda 21 processes in Portuguese schools and counties. Agenda 21 dates back to the UN Rio Summit in 1992, and is a comprehensive plan of actions for sustainable development to be taken at global, national and local levels.

    “I was looking for an innovative approach to gathering of data, while getting our university out there, further than just the campus buildings. I wanted us to be in touch with the real world, and finally I wanted to contribute to reducing the large differences in development within Portugal,” Dr José Rocha e Silva said.

    He added: “Collecting environmental data is normally tremendously expensive, so we thought up the idea of using secondary school students to gather the information. By providing schools with an incentive through scientific support and information on environmental issues, they are encouraged to sample various forms of environmental data. Thus we get the data at a very low cost,” he said. Measuring everything from weather conditions, hydrology and soils, the project brings together teachers and students from geography, physics, science, mathematics to language studies and philosophy. An e-learning platform allows the over 120 teachers involved to access the information necessary to carry out the research.

    The schools send the data via the internet to the University of Porto, where it is processed and analysed. “We contacted the schools directly, and visited them wherever in the country they were located,” continued Dr Rocha e Silva. “As the University of Porto is the largest university in Portugal, schools are very happy to collaborate with us. Now, there are more schools wanting to work with us than we can manage to coordinate. ”Through local secondary school teachers, the research team has also managed to establish contact and close cooperation with municipalities, true to the aims of Agenda 21.

    The project has been highly successful so far, and Dr Rocha e Silva would like to take the project idea further: “I believe we can use our experience to build an environmental monitoring mechanism to cover all of Europe,” he said enthusiastically.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    ENEAS - European Network for Environment Assessment and Services

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Environment and sustainable development


    € 900,507



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project promoter:

    Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto

    Type of institution:

    Education/research institution

    Project website:


    Project duration:

    51 months

    Project cost:

    € 1,059,420

    Grant rate:


    Grant from:

    EEA Grants

    Grant agreement date:

    04 June 2007

    The purpose of the Project is training of students and teachers nationwide in collecting and measuring scientific environmental data on a local level, with the overall objective of establishing a network of high schools working jointly with Universities in exchanging data and results with the goal of implementing Agenda 21 processes in schools and counties. Reference is made to the application, dated 21 September 2006 and correspondence with the Focal Point dated 20 October 2006.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    Take scientifically valid measurements in the fields of atmosphere, hydrology, soils, and land cover/phenology (recurring natural phenomena). Provide assistance to teachers through training,workshops, teacher guides, develop "how-to" leaflets and other training materials. Provide scientific support to high school teachers on environmental issues by setting up a help desk. Conduct statistical validation of data and correlate the measurements and analysis of collected data. Raise environmental awareness by publishing analysed data in usable formats (GIS format through Internet) for high schools, local and regional authorities and the public in general.

    The Project Promoter is the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto.

    The Project Promoter shall provide at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.