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Council doubles efforts to keep red palm weevil numbers under control

RP dades becut vermell

The Formentera Council office of rural affairs shared today its data on the spread of the red palm weevil on Formentera. Department head Bartomeu Escandell highlighted the different strategies the administration has employed to prevent further spread of the insect. He also called for help from Formentera residents and asked anyone with a potentially infested palm tree to contact the CiF office of rural affairs, which offers help controlling the pests.

Escandell outlined the Council's plans – with assistance from the Govern Balear – to spend €42,000 in 2016 on pest control strategies for the weevil. That figure represents a €7,000 increase in the same funding in 2015. This year, efforts will begin in early March and continue to year-end – an extension of last year's campaign, which ran from July to December. As Escandell pointed out, «the change was based on the increase in the number of affected palm trees registered since 2014. That year the number was 98 and last year it rose to 178».

Juan Argente, project coordinator and specialist at Tragsa, explained the goal of this year's efforts are to carry on where work left off in 2015. «The strategy involves fieldwork to establish our working area and track which trees are affected, then close monitoring of the pest control work done by the professionals», said Argente, who indicated another component will include keeping a network of traps to oversee captures of large swathes of the weevil population.

Pickup and disposal at no cost for private homes

As a way to help private homes meet the cost of controlling the pests, Escandell explained the Council will be allocating more than 40% of the project's budget to the pickup and treatment of organic matter generated in the process. Another part of the current push is to target new cases introduced through garden centres here on the island, not to mention a campaign to raise local awareness. Training courses designed for local professionals will be given the first two weekends of March.

A total of 3,000 palm trees have been inspected since the first case of a weevil-affected tree was detected in 2011. Since that time, 280 affected trees have been treated. Argente noted that for pruning to be an effective preventive measure it must be done in December or January.

Council extends push to control pine processionary caterpillar

Foto lluita processionaria premsaOn January 14th, the Formentera Council (CiF) began a two-week push to stop the local spread of the pine processionary caterpillar. The CiF department of environment has announced its decision to extend the activity another fortnight. Councillor and department head Daisee Aguilera said the Council seeks to «cover a wider area and reduce the possibility of the pine processionary’s expansion to other parts of the island».

The technique, which consists in removing the insects’ nests, or ‘tents’, from pine trees, has been applied in Es Cap de Barbaria, the area where processionary numbers are highest. «The process», Aguilera explained, «is much more environmentally sound than the diflubenzuron fumigations proposed by the Govern during the last legislative session. That fumigation campaign was rejected by both the Council and a good part of the island». Aguilera noted that royal decree 1311/2012 (14 September 2012) and European directive 2009/128/CE prohibit such spraying except in certain cases.

The CiF has contracted two specialised forest service emloyees to deal with the spread of the invasive pest. Moreover, Aguilera announced the Council’s coordination of «a group of volunteers that will remove the insects’ tents from trees – manually for those located low down on the tree, and mechanically for those higher up».

Helpful hand from local hunters

The department also has the help of the Es Cap hunters’ club. The hunters target nests found in pine canopies and shoot them with their rifles. To that end, the Council has purchased 2,500 cartridges at a cost of €600.

Work by the IBANAT

With help from the Formentera Council, IBANAT (l’Institut Balear de la Natura), a branch of the Regional Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Fishing of the Govern Balear, has also applied different techniques to eliminate the pests in trouble spots around the island.

Council and IBANAT take on pine processionary

Foto treballador forestal. Autor Baide 22.16.00Together with the Govern Balear, the Formentera Council (CiF) is behind a new push to curb the spread of the pine processionary caterpillar on Formentera. Councillor Daisee Aguilera, who oversees the CiF department of environment, noted that starting yesterday, January 13th, Council crews began to look for nests of the insect in the area it is most common: Es Cap de Barbaria.

Manual or mechanical drives

«We’ve contracted two forest service specialists who will be on the island for the next two weeks to attend to the problems the species is causing. What’s more», Aguilera continued, «the Council is coordinating a volunteer group that will remove the insects’ nests by hand (in lower branches) and machine (in high branches)». Aguilera’s office has also enlisted the Es Cap hunters’ club to shoot at nests located in the high top branches of pine trees. The office of the environment has purchased 2,500 cartridges at a cost of €600 and intends to begin that phase of the process between this week and next, depending on weather. The councillor added: «If anyone else wants to join either volunteer group, or if other residents have affected pine trees on their property, please contact the department of environment for assistance».

IBANAT's work

For its part, the Balearic Nature Institute (IBANAT for its acronym in Catalan), a branch of the regional ministry of environment, agriculture and fishing of the Govern Balear, has coordinated several different actions on Formentera to attack flare-ups in caterpillar numbers.

Since Tuesday January 12th and for another two weeks, IBANAT personnel will provide technical advising to CiF staff, cutting down and burning the nests they find in the Es Cap area. Council officials said the partnership can later be extended beyond two weeks if need be.

Council removes 11 abandoned boats from Formentera coastline

Embarcacions retirades foto

The office of the environment of the Formentera Council has removed 11 watercraft including skiffs and flotation devices abandoned along the waterline in Estany des Peix (3) and Es Caló (8). Councillor Daisee Aguilera, head of the office, explained not only were the boats eyesores and lacking any identifying information, «they had been left on the public shoreline, which is prohibited by Formentera’s regulatory code concerning use of beaches and swimming areas».

ID’ing the boats

A watchman employed by the CiF environment office spotted seven of the craft last 21 September. At that time, Aguilera said, decals were affixed that notified owners they had one month to move the boats from public land before the Council took action and sent them to the dump.

«Since no one came forward», Aguilera explained, «the Council went ahead with removing the boats. A notice was then published to inform owners they had 15 business days to claim their property, if they paid all removal costs and dump fees». Left once again with any response, the Council proceeded to the decontamination and scrapping of the abandoned property.

Aguilera noted the same process has occurred with four other abandoned watercraft, two in the Estany des Peix area and two in Es Caló, discovered on 28 and 30 October. After the cut-off date of Wednesday 13 January, the craft will be sent to the scrapyard.

Council asks for “long overdue” solutions to perennial problems facing electricity supply

foto consell premsa

Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer announced earlier today his intent to send a letter to the regional minister of land, energy and transport, Joan Boned and director general of Endesa's Balearic office, Ernesto Bonín, to express Formentera's collective anger about the electricity problems that have plagued the island. Ferrer said he will demand a suitable electricity service, “long overdue here on the island”.

The president voiced his frustration at “the abundance of service interruptions, excessively long and without notice, that affect so many here on the island”. The fact the most recent occurrence came in January - when use is low and no electrical storms have hit the island - “makes the occurrence even harder to accept”.

Ferrer noted that Formentera's different political parties have come together on the questions facing the island's electricity supply and modernising the Es Ca Marí power station: “This is something that was ignored by the Bauzà administration and has been on the new government's agenda since day one”.

He noted that “Minister Boned visited the island's electricity plant in September and confirmed our requests are fully justified”.

Turning to Endesa for answers

On the responsibility borne by Endesa, Ferrer said: “Putting to one side any problems with the system of supply itself, there is also a very clear issue with regard to the company's attitude. Endesa has got thousands of customers on Formentera – including the Council – that are paying for a service. However, they've got no information point on the island. The only way for customers to get in touch with the company is by telephone and finding additional information is difficult”.

During the power interruption, Daisee Aguilera, the CiF councillor of the environment and energy, contacted the Spanish electricity network (Red Eléctrica Española) and was informed no part of the national infrastructure had malfunctioned. The councillor called the regional ministry in Palma as well as the Endesa company. At 10:45 that evening the latter confirmed two cuts in electricity had been registered on the same power line, though they were unable to provide detailed information about the location. During that time the Council posted all of the information on its social networks as it was received.

The president called on Formentera residents affected by the power outage to “stand up for their rights the same way Endesa does every month at billing time” and, for any homes that would like to file a claim with the company, provided their toll-free customer support number: 800760909.

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