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Formentera pupils get lesson in recycling and composting

visita deixalleria premsaThe Formentera Council's Office of Environment has reported today that in every classroom of every school on the island students will now find an "ecology spot" — a station where rubbish and recyclable material can be binned. Department head Daisee Aguilera explained the measure and pointed out new high volume bins installed on school playgrounds by the Ecoembes company.

Calling it an effort to give kids “first-hand experience recycling" and a "good reminder of recycling's environmental importance", Aguilera says starting with young learners is "an investment in a more sustainable future". Now in its second year, the project gives children a chance to visit the island's rubbish tip (Deixalleria) and transfer station. As the councillor points out, the experience provides a close-up look at what happens to the things we throw away on the island.

Composting workshops
Last week composting classes began across the island. All told, Formentera's three primary schools will see ten composting workshops tailored for students' practical use on school vegetable patches. The lessons are funded by the Formentera Council and the Govern's ministry of environment. "Our hope," said Aguilera, "is that we can get children in the habit of recycling early and make sure they take an active role in sustainable waste management."

Limit palm tree pruning to January and February

Poda palmeraThe Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture has reiterated the restrictions placed on pruning plant species that are susceptible to the red palm weevil, namely, palm trees. Residents are asked to limit their pruning to January and February, given these have been the coolest months in recent years. That cold is significant because Rhynchophorus ferrugineus —the insect also known as the red palm weevil which has devastated palm trees— reduces and even halts its activity altogether at low temperatures.

Law 4/2016 of January 29, which establishes the need for efforts within the Balearic region to eradicate the insect, restricts palm tree pruning to the chilliest months.

Authorisation from agriculture office
Recall that, to prune palm trees, individuals must always have the prior permission of the CiF Office of Agriculture, the goal being to protect pruned trees from infestation and to ensure proper disposal of the garden waste generated in the process. With the green-light of the agriculture office, individuals are allowed to take waste to the local transfer plant, free of charge.

With plants that are susceptible to weevil infestation a series of precautions should be followed. Prune only dry leaves. When green leaf pruning is absolutely necessary, cuts should be kept to a minimum and a scarring solution or other plant protection treatment should be applied. Cuts should be clean and trunks should not be pared. “Close shave” techniques should be avoided when pruning is ornamental. This kind of pruning should only be applied when necessary and followed with a plant protection treatment immediately after. If any weevils are detected during pruning, contact the Council's Office of Agriculture so that the necessary steps can be followed.

Renewed efforts to halt spread of pine processionary

foto procesionaria 2017 premsaThe Formentera Council Office of Environment has launched an effort to control the spread of the pine processionary caterpillar. According to Daisee Aguilera, councillor in charge of the department, two professional forestry workers have been brought in to oversee a three-week push that will include removal and controlled burning of the pine processionary's nests.

Members of Es Cap de Barbaria's hunters' club have volunteered to shoot down nests from otherwise out of reach pine-tops. In addition to financing the campaign, whose cost so far stands at 7,547 euros, the Council has helped the local shooters in their task by purchasing 2,500 shotgun cartridges.

Area of action
This year, besides operations in Es Cap de Barbaria, considered the hardest hit area on the island, controls will be extended to parts of Sant Francesc, Ses Bardetes and Ses Salines park, where the caterpillar has also turned up, albeit in reduced numbers. Aguilera stressed the pine processionary's spread across the new areas of action, in the periphery of the current centre, remained unsubstantial. “However,” she said, “the aim behind extending nest removal to these zones is to stop the insect's expansion”.

Local involvement
Aguilera turned to Formentera residents for help identifying pine trees affected by the pest. Anyone with useful information is asked to call the Office of Environment at  971 32 12 10 or visit the Citizen Information Office (OAC), in person or online.

The Council thanked the administration in Palma for its speed in this initial phase of the campaign, which included on-the-ground treatment measures. This move came on the back of a proposal that was unanimously adopted at the Council's September 30 plenary session last year. In October and November, members of Ibanat, the wilderness brigade in the Balearics, were tasked with a push to control the insect's spread using a spray treatment.

Formentera residents rejected aerial application of a chemical agent called diflubenzuron in 2014 on the grounds that the method wasn't selective and had known detrimental effects on flora, fauna and human health.

“A technical meeting to review our control efforts to date is being planned for the end of February. Based on that information we'll recalibrate our strategy as we move forward combating the pine processionary's spread,” concluded the councillor.

Crews set out spreading garden clippings across Formentera countryside

biotrituradora restes podaThe Formentera Council's environment department will start hauling away one thousand cubic metres of garden clippings from a staging area located beside Es Cap de Barbaria's waste treatment plant. The repurposed waste will not only filter organic nutrients into Formentera fields; it will also bolster the capacity of the land to hold water, noted environment secretary Daisee Aguilera.

The clippings will be dispatched across the island between 8.00am and 1.00pm and again from 3.00pm to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. The three firms assisting in transport—Foreva, Formentera Trucks and Transports Formentera— will take advantage of return journeys on trips to the treatment plant to haul away loads and deliver them to interested parties across the island. Beneficiaries of the service will pay based on the amount of clippings they wish to receive—€15 for 5m3, €20 for 8m3, €25 for 14m3 and €35 for 20m3. Islanders should contact the environment office (àrea de Medi Ambient, 971 32 12 10) or one of the freight companies directly.

Recycling organic waste
The purpose of the initiative is to give islanders who work the land a way to enrich soil and boost its capacity for water retention. Singling out farmers as the group potentially most interested in the initiative, Aguilera said reusing biowaste could increase crop yield, save water for irrigation and help complete the cycle of waste production and management. According to the secretary, the material is also effective for mulching, a technique consisting in covering the base of plants in order, among other benefits, to trap in moisture and prevent weeds.

The effort will help free up the Es Cap de Barbaria staging area for other uses, such as a compost pile. Started with material extracted from the sewage treatment plant, compost would be one way to generate nutrient-rich earth that could be cycled back into the local eco-system. Gardening scraps were chipped with a “biochipper” purchased by the Formentera Council with help from the EU's Leader fund. The administration owns two smaller chippers which it loans to islanders free of charge so they can shred green trimmings generated at home. The service can be requested at the Citizen's Information Office (OAC) or by contacting the environment office.

Es Ca Marí desalination plant to boost production capacity

visita planta dessalinitzadoraEnvironment councillor Daisee Aguilera, accompanied by the Govern's director general of water resources, Juana María Garau, and the director of Abaqua, Antoni Garcias, paid a visit to the Es Ca Marí desalination plant to observe the progress of works currently under way there.

María described the current project as one of “expansion and improvements” at the plant that, until recently, supported two production lines and boasted a production capacity of 1,000 cubic metres of water per day. Following the changes the plant will have two additional lines with a daily capacity of 2,500 m³ each. The plant is also equipped with an additional line, able to produce 2,000 m³ per day, which will be overhauled and reserved for emergencies.

The revamped plant's production —5,000 m³ from the two new lines plus 2,000 m³ from the existing line— stands against a peak summer demand of 4,000 m³ per day. According to Councillor Aguilera, it is hoped the overhaul will furnish a margin large enough to cover population growth and potential breakdowns. She gave thanks to the other visitors for joining her in the task of evaluating the remodel work.

The project, priced at €1,600,000 (without VAT) and slated for completion in March, includes plans for a new well, energy upgrades, improved salt water extraction and filter replacements.

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