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Nearly 3k of waste hauled from ecological hotspots around Formentera

foto residus 1On January 25, 2017, a special committee charged with promoting sustainable tourism in the Balearic Islands picked the projects that will receive money from the sustainable tourism levy in 2016.

One the chosen projects was a plan to employ at-risk individuals in yearly coastal cleanups at beaches, coves and other public places. Architects of the plan say they aim to protect, preserve and restore natural, rural and agrarian settings.

The nearly €45,000 project, steered by the Balearic ministry of environment, agriculture and fishing's “Quality Environments Service”, began last April and will continue to July.

Sebastià Sansó, chief of ecology education, environmental quality and waste, joined CiF environment secretary Daisee Aguilera for a first-hand look at the operations conducted by Apfem-Aktua cleaning crews. To date, 2,815 kilograms of waste have been taken away.

Efforts included transport and recycling of litter pulled from nearby waters, environmental outreach, environmental patrols and accident reporting, waste tracking studies, extraction and removal of invasive species, studying distribution of local plant known as “marine fennel” and gathering of graphic information for outreach.

On Eivissa and Formentera, contracts to coordinate operations were awarded to Apfem-Aktua and the Balearic Islands Red Cross. As an “investment project” offering long-term employment prospects, the initiative gave workers experience towards employment in the public and private sectors and reinforced the stability of their professional prospects moving forward.

Apart from the immediately visible impact offered by upkeep in public spaces, coves and beaches and waste removal in the outdoors, Sansó described the project as “a chance to educate the public on ecological issues”.

The beaches and coves included in the project are coastal areas with unique ecological significance, whether as protected natural spaces (ENP for the initials in Catalan) or designated sites on the EU’s Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas.

Explaining the effectiveness of the programme, Daisee Aguilera pointed out that the places that receive attention aren't often the places most frequented by tourists. One sight that is all too common? Washed up plastic objects. Aguilera described plastics in the seas as a “planetary problem” and urged “ongoing action to raise awareness about the harm they do”. Worse yet, she said, is that plastic rubbish makes its way into the food chain and affects both plants and humans—“with all the dangers and setbacks that go along with it”. As evidence of the programme's social impact the secretary held up the participation of at-risk individuals, for whom the initiative offers many different opportunities—“a job, the quality of life boost of receiving a paycheck, and the satisfaction of caring for the local environment”.

Formentera announces Save Posidonia Project's two winning projects

foto posi 2018This morning tourism and land secretary Alejandra Ferrer and environment secretary Daisee Aguilera unveiled the two winning projects in the first Save Posidonia Project (SPP). Council officials and engineers of the winning proposals were joined at the ceremony by advisory board panelists, supporting firms and other associations involved in the initiative.

The 16-person advisory board that winnowed 14 proposals down to two number ones was made up of representatives of the Govern balear, the Formentera Council, scientific and academic quarters, fishing and nautical industries, scuba divers and members of environmental NGOs and the island's neighbourhood association. In the end proposals from IMEDEA and GEN-GOB were named this year's winners.

All told, participants in the initiative raised enough money to sponsor more than 132,000 square metres (m2) of seagrass meadows. The top contributors were Puleva (11,000m2), Trasmapi (10,000m2), Insotel (10,000m2), Beso Beach (6,250m2), Red Elèctrica (6,000m2), Ibifor (5,000m2), Estrella Galícia (5,000m2), Es Bàsic (5,000m2) and Ferrovial (4,000m2).

Selected projects
The Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA in Catalan) named their effort to study human's direct effect on posidonia meadows “Antroposi”. The researchers, whose 18-month study will receive a grant of €83,822, say they will focus on shallow areas when considering the impact of ferries and pleasure craft, not to mention how effluent from treatment plants' underwater drain pipes and sewage offloaded from ships can effect posidonia and its ability to absorb CO2.

Researchers at environmental group GEN-GOB proposed an ecological study on anchoring points along the island's coast. They aim both to pinpoint the areas of serious environmental impact and develop maps based on the information, and to gauge the health of those posidonia meadows under pressure by anchoring watercraft. Selected to receive €48,836, the GEN-GOB study is forecast to take shape over the next two years.

Deepening the Save Posidonia Project commitment
Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera announced plans moving forward to extend the Save Posidonia Project, saying “this summer we'll continue the same course” and describing plans for “educational campaigns and a local and international mobilising effort”. For Aguilera, the ultimate goal is for posidonia to become a kind of shorthand for Formentera. She cited the importance of conservation if Formentera is to hold on to its “sustainable destination” status and described the island's tourism model as “key to our ability to differentiate and continue offering something for all those seeking natural surroundings”.

The Council wishes to thank the private companies and individuals who contributed money and educational resources to the Save Posidonia Project. Said Aguilera: “It's the way to raise awareness and get all the stakeholders involved in conservation and showcasing these beautiful waters of ours”.

Used oil collection sites multiply across island

Foto recollida oli 1The Formentera Council's environment office announces the addition of three household oil collection bins to the local landscape. With two already installed in la Savina near es Trituradors tower and on a roadside in es Pujols (carrer Punta Prima), a third is in the works in es Caló.

The three units join a stable of seven already installed at sites across the island—the sports pitches of es Cap, the la Mola primary school, carrer Joan Castelló in Sant Ferran, Illes Pitiüses park (la Savina), carrer Espalmador (es Pujols) and at sa Senieta car park and the public-housing building (Sant Francesc). Used oil can also be taken to the island's rubbish drop-off site, la Deixalleria.

The containers are at the core of a compact between the Council and waste management firm Ca na Negreta in which the local administration foots a yearly €9,504 bill to maintain the 600- to 900-litre bins, equipped for drop-off of recipients of up to five litres.

As part of the deal, Ca na Negreta must oversee emptying of filled containers at least once a month. The company will also perform checks (bi-weekly in summer and monthly in winter) to clean the containers and remove any nearby articles which are improperly disposed of.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera highlighted the importance of responsible recycling practices, especially when in comes to used oil. “Just one litre of oil can contaminate one million litres of water”, Aguilera pointed out, calling the prospect of unduly binned houshold oils “a serious problem for our sanitation and sewerage infrastructure.”

Collecting used oil at businesses
Companies whose outputs include used vegetable or industrial oils (mechanics or rental car agencies, for example) must turn the waste over to outside organisms which are specially accredited to oversee disposal. Such entities perform on-site pickups since drooff at public collection sites is prohibited for businesses.

Used oil pickup is typically free. Authorised oil-disposal firms must issue a receipt of services rendered, which may be requested in future checks by the arm of government which directs hazardous waste collection, the Govern balear.

'Formentera, Water Smart Island' at SWAN 2018

Foto watersmartislandEarlier today CiF environment secretary Daisee Aguilera and Ángel Encinas, from the innovation and technology wing of Aquàlia, the company which holds Formentera's water management contract, took to Barcelona's global SWAN 2018 congress to unveil a project styling Formentera as a “water-smart island”.

The presentation was included in a conference on the role of “education, commitment and responsibility in smart cities”, moderated by Eva Martínez, who is the chief of smart management in Aquàlia's innovation arm.

'Formentera Water Smart Island'
The recognised success of “Formentera Water Smart Island” —the project which brought cutting-edge, remote water metre readers to Sant Ferran— has inspired administration officials to take the rollout mainstream. A total of 2,394 of the “smart readers” — at zero direct cost to islanders— are now awaiting installation.

Officials say it's about sustainable and appropriate use of the water resources so precious on the island. One figure in particular —Formentera's rate of water efficiency— is 89.57 per cent.

The system makes it possible to conduct real-time readings of metres, resulting in clearer information for users on the grid and improved efficiency. It also means serious advantages for customers. For one, it allows operators to check metres without having to physically travel to the area or household in question, thus eliminating estimated readings. Leaks at the household-level can be spotted, too, helping water users catch technical failures at home and sparing them the attendant water bills. Metres which are malfunctioning or have stopped outright can be easily detected as well, giving Aquàlia up-to-date breakdowns on volume across the grid that, although distributed, is not recorded due to technical problems, fraud or unchecked consumption. The system offers an area-specific means of tracking water demand, plus objective and detailed information to open up the possibility of investment in the grid.

Remote readings represent yet another tech-based breakthrough of the many that Formentera's water works have already experienced. The island is now home to a grid-wide system permitting the tracking and controlling at a distance of supply and sanitation activity, as well as readings concerning segmented supply and isolated leaks.

Formentera consolidates and expands recycling programme for organic waste

foto dia reciclatge 2018 2The Formentera Council's environment office took the opportunity of International Recycling Day to distribute special composting sacks to businesses in Sant Francesc which took part in last year's test run of a door-to-door programme to recycle organic waste.

Last year, one hundred tonnes of discarded organic material were collected and mixed with shredded plant trimmings. A roughly eight-month maturation process resulted in three hundred cubic metres of high-quality compost for gardens and agriculture.

CiF environment secretary Daisee Aguilera thanked the participants in last year's trial in Sant Francesc and underscored the importance of recycling organic rubbish. The secretary highlighted the importance of “consolidating the cycle of organic matter”, and beamed about the current measure's potential to “restore the inherent utility of organic waste” at the same time it “helps to reduce the volume of material entering landfills”. Aguilera professed renewed ambition in what she maintained was an already very successful recycling programme on the island. “This year we've been named the biggest per capita glass recyclers in the nation,” she said. “We're hoping that sort of active participation will continue across local business, because organic waste recycling helps us all”.

Following the success of last year's recycling push, the Council moved to extend organic waste collection to the entire island. Over a five-month period that began May 15, one hundred seventy local businesses classified as “medium- to large-scale waste producers” will be able to recycle their organic refuse at points along two established routes. In addition, businesses will have at their disposition an environmental ombudsperson and three patrol staff available to provide assistance and field questions about the initiative.

Last year Formentera's €90,000 organic waste initiative received €32,000 in subsidies from the environmental arm of the LEADER programme. It is hoped 400 tonnes will be collected this year.

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