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Environment

Thousands of invasive caterpillar nests removed

Foto lluita processionaria premsaEarlier today the Office of Environment of the Formentera Council reported on the progress to date of efforts to control the spread of the processionary pine caterpillar, an invasive pest which has particularly affected the area of Es Cap de Barbaria. According to CiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, “approximately 12,000 caterpillar nests were removed in autumn and winter 2015-2016.” Aguilera lauded the efforts of outside workers contracted by the Council, volunteers and IBANAT staff, calling them an “instrumental part” of the response.

As Aguilera pointed out, of 12,000 nests removed, more than 4,000 were empty, 6,000 were full and 1,900 were destroyed by rifle shots. For normal nest removal the Council relied on two outside specialists, Govern Balear-employed staff of IBANAT and local volunteers and property owners. According to the councillor, the administration had the additional help of hunters in the Es Cap de Barbaria area, who were tasked with shooting down out of reach nests.

The goal behind the efforts is to stem the spread of the caterpillar in those areas where infestation is most pronounced. Officials have determined the hardest-hit area to be the former agritourism site in Es Cap de Barbaria, in the north northwest part of the island. Nevertheless, a recent study by the environmental office indicates the pest has turned up in places from la Mola to the Ses Salines national park.

The councillor said warm winter temperatures were the primary cause for the caterpillar’s continued spread. What is more, she announced that in the future the Council’s response would include more workers and an expanded area of focus. According to Aguilera, the Council will soon tap the appropriate arms of the Palma government to request a plan of action.

Council logs 15 cases of serious dumping infractions in 2015

Fotos contenidorsThis morning, the Formentera Council office of environment released figures from 2015 showing a spike over the last year in €751-€1,500 fines for dumping. Daisee Aguilera, CiF environment councillor, pointed out that the ramping up of fines reflects a new reality in which disregard for private land and illegal dumping carry repercussions. Aguilera said residents can expect to see more of the same tough enforcement in 2016.

Of the 70 fines issued for illegal dumping in 2015, 15 were for offences classed as 'major' while the remainder were 'minor'. By contrast, in 2014 roughly 60 fines were written, of which, said Aguilera, only two of which were major. Of the 15 major infractions in 2015, seven were for illegal dumping outside a bin and three were for dumping within the Ses Salines national park. Penalties were additionally issued in five cases of dumping that took place on private property. The two major infractions cited in 2014 were both for dumping outside a bin.

More checks

“The Council has stepped up checks on private plots in rural areas to ensure rules on safety, salubrity and public property are respected”. In addition, the councillor took the opportunity to remind residents of the Council's fining scale: €1 to €750 for minor offences, €751 to €1,500 for mid-level offences and €1,501 to €3,000 for major offences. Aguilera urged the people of Formentera to use the new collection station in the Sant Francesc industrial park, “intended for hazardous materials, home appliances and any waste that is too big for streetside bins”. She also reminded residents of the CiF's completely free home pickup service for appliances and furniture, which can be reached by calling 900 102 656.

According to Aguilera, “the island's image depends on everybody”. Asserting that “behaviour like littering directly impacts our local economy and environment”, the councillor underscored the need to protect what she called “the main draw for Formentera's visitors”. Moreover, she pointed to complaints from Formentera locals about the toll dumping has already taken on the island's image. Aguilera also seized on the opportunity to thank the Council's waste collection crews for “minimising the effects of the antisocial behaviour of a small minority”.

Councillor Aguilera underscored the crucial role of Formentera local police, who have ramped up their patrols, in the crackdown. Finally, looking ahead to summer 2016, the environment councillor announced the CiF's plans to roll out an awareness-raising campaign aimed not only at island residents but also merchants, restaurants, holiday rental properties, hotel owners and concessionaires of beachside bars.

Formentera goes dark

The Formentera Council has signed on to take part in Earth Hour 2016, a worldwide push to turn off electric lights for an entire sixty minutes. Tomorrow, March 19th from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., authorities will cut off the flow of electricity to streetlamps in Sant Francesc at the town square —plaça de la Constitució— as well as carrers Eivissa and Ramón Llull.

Environment councillor Daisee Aguilera encouraged Formentera residents to “join in on the lights-out effort”, calling it a “symbolic way to take on climate change”. Every year since 2007, the World Wide Fund for Nature (better known by the initials WWF) has organised the event called Earth Hour. This year, Aguilera explained, the Council has decided to jump on board by switching off public lights along some of the main streets in Sant Francesc.

Waste drop-off point to stay open during Easter holiday

Porta deixalleriaThe Formentera deixalleria (waste drop-off point) will remain open Easter holiday week except Good Friday. The site serves as a collection and separation point for rubbish that is unsuitable for home pickup. It will open Maundy Thursday, Saturday and Monday for its morning hours of operation — nine in the morning to half past one. As environment councillor Daisee Aguilera reported, “We're aware that many on the island use the Easter holiday either to open shop or get ready for the season ahead. Hence the Council has asked the site's operator, Ferrovial, to remain open the coming days”.

The collection centre is located at the industrial park, between La Savina and Sant Francesc on the Sant Francesc-La Mola road, and has been in operation since May 2015. It is there that Formentera residents are requested to take any rubbish not fit for streetside bins. Normally, the centre is open mornings, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and afternoons, Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Push to clear washed up seagrass from Es Ca Marí shoreline

Foto Es Ca Marí bermes posidòniaFrom tomorrow, 17 March, the Formentera Council's office of environment will begin removing mounds of posidonia seagrass that have accumulated along the Es Ca Marí shoreline. The announcement was made by environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, who noted “the process will take between two and three days if weather is fair”. The Formentera Council will foot the bill for transport, and any residents interested in using the washed up plant matter for farming or livestock purposes should contact the office of environment. Requests can be made in person at the department (open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 971321210.

The removal process itself will be similar to in 2014, and is being repeated at the behest of the Es Ca Marí neighbourhood association. As Aguilera explained, “in winter the area is hit by both westerly and south-westerly winds, which leads to a tightly packed build-up of seaweed that can reach three metres in height”. Studies indicate that sporadic removals are more appropriate than systematic ones, she said.

Formentera's head of environmental affairs noted the crucial role posidonia seagrass plays in the health of Formentera beaches, pointing out it prevents shoreline erosion. Local beaches are especially susceptible, which explains why complete removal of the seagrass is undesirable. According to Aguilera, the practise – which involves hauling off a portion of the accumulated plant matter – serves a dual function: allowing beach cleaning crews to do their work and preventing further spread of the washed up weeds across the coastline. She also highlighted the fact that, in the process, the tradition of reusing the material has been revived.

Posidonia for composting

The councillor noted the suitability of the dried seagrass in composting. She encouraged Formentera residents to contact the office of environment and give new use to the seagrass, whose nearby prairies have been named a World Heritage site. Aguilera also referred to a recent repurposing of the material that has long been favoured by locals: use in building. “This method has been rehashed and is being employed in the low-income housing currently under construction in Sant Ferran”.
   

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