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sexta-feira, abril 24, 2009

Dear Angela Merkel

os alemães preparam-se para dar um tiro no pé:

Open letter to Angela Merkel concerning the High Mosel Bridge (Hochmoselübergang)

24th April 2009

Bundeskanzleramt
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
Willy-Brandt-Straße 1
10557 Berlin

Dear Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany,

I hear often in the international press these days that Mosel wine is coming strongly back into fashion. In fact, many wine critics refer to Riesling as "the queen of grapes".

This simple fact - alongside weighty considerations such as the protection of important habitats for wild flora and fauna, cultural guardianship, and future financial burden - causes me to write as a matter of urgency to question the decision to now go ahead with building the B50 High Mosel Bridge. The projected 4-lane 160 meter-high concrete road bridge will have a severe impact on the vineyards and villages of Ãœrzig, Zeltingen-Rachtig and Wehlen, and where the road is planned to continue on above Graach it threatens the stability of that vineyard and disregards the integrity of a historic monument (the hill fort Graacher Schanzen). The additional supply road behind the village of Erden will affect the quality of fruit and vegetable production as well as the wine. These select Mosel vineyards have been cultivated for 2000 years, and are the very heart of Old World Riesling production; in fact they are widely praised as the absolute best stretch of 'First Growth' quality Riesling vineyards in the world.

It goes without saying that this area of Germany is in dire need of support and investment for regeneration: clearly the tourists need to be enticed to return, and instead of allowing a slow decline in wine production (or creeping industrialisation) the craft should be resolutely promoted to a new generation interested in the creation of high quality wines. Many would cherish the opportunity to make world-class wines on the steep valley slopes. These things do not happen automatically with the coming of a new road, but need planning and sensitive development. If you are a tourist able to arrive a little faster will you stay near the bridge, or use those extra minutes looking for a spot that has not had its wonderful vista blighted? Visitors come here for wine, nature and sports; leisure pursuits on the river, walking and cycling, and the excellent paragliding opportunity presented by the thermal air currents that rise from the very hill that the bridge will overshadow. (The Mosel Open International Paragliding Competition and the regular flights enhance this fabulous beauty spot.) All of these pursuits face major disruption. Is it not obvious that any development of infrastructure must encourage these low-impact activities and preserve the natural environment of an important wine-growing region?

Aside from the inordinate visual domination imposed by the bridge on the valley and villages, ecologists and winemakers are concerned that the local ecosystem and micro-climates of the vines will be disturbed; results which would mean a loss of the special qualities that make this a singular locale for wine-growing. The mix of red slate and red volcanic soil around this bend of the river is totally unique: there is no similar wine habitat elsewhere along the Mosel, nor indeed anywhere on the globe. The big question is this: Is there no better way to realise the desired transport connections than to follow a plan that was conceived decades ago at a time when very little thought was given to environmental or cultural considerations?

International tourists are increasingly interested in authentic experiences gained through contact with traditional methods of horticultural production. With the recession biting, many German people will soon rediscover their home-grown pleasures, and their numbers will increase once the unsustainable era of cheap flights comes to an end. Holiday destinations come and go like all fashions. When visitors seek to sample our delights do we want to offer them an awesome natural treasure or an overwhelming, uninspired eyesore alongside our exceptional wines? Can we afford to drive away the visitors who already love this part of the valley? With a small amount of vision this area could become a world leader in sustainable regeneration, demonstrating a clear and simple strategy to lead us out of the current downturn. Effective investment in the development and promotion of world-class German wine could possibly achieve this result by itself. By comparison, reliance on road-building to cure our ills offers at best the effect of sticking a plaster on a gaping wound.

The disturbance of this most particular Riesling habitat is an issue of international importance, which is why I have chosen to make this an open letter for wide circulation. I hope you will visit the bridge site at your earliest convenience to satisfy yourself that this is a sane project which leaves a sensible and desirable legacy for future generations - as opposed to a foolhardy and scandalous disruption of an ancient craft in its natural environment. I further ask on behalf of all the people who appreciate living in and visiting this remarkable place that you account for the conundrum of why the area has been withheld from application to UNESCO for World Heritage status.

For a visual impression of the impact of the bridge on the valley see the before and after [vorher/nachher] photos at: http://b50neu.de

Yours sincerely,
Sarah Washington


[Apontamento] http://b50neu.de