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Formentera pushes for additional control of pine processionary

foto ple setembre 2016In plenary session today members of the Formentera Council voted unanimously to instate new measures to ensure enhanced control of the processionary pine caterpillar on Formentera. The move, explained CiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, would entail urging the Govern's environment ministry to push ahead in its current use of pheromone traps to curb Formentera's processionary pine numbers.

Aguilera said that the spike in captures of butterflies was behind the Council's call. Focusing on the hardest hit areas of the island, the administration hopes the Govern will push ahead with a phytosanitary treatment which includes use of an all-terrain vehicle in 2016 to distribute the biological agent Bacillus thuringiensis. Crews will also continue destroying processionary nests by hand and gunfire.

Finally, the CiF councillor asked the Govern for swift action in the process of issuing permits for aerial spraying of the Bacillus thuringiensis bio-agent. The decision has been backed by the environmental arm of the island's league of local association reps, Consell d'Entitats. As Aguilera noted, “this particular agent is biological and doesn't affect flora and fauna, unlike the chemical agent —diflubenzuron— that the previous administration of the Govern intended to use in 2014. Diflubenzuron did have effects on plant and animal life, which is why it was opposed by Formentera as a whole”. The councillor heralded the productive kinship that exists between the current Balearic and Formentera administrations in tackling the pest.

The Formentera Council has taken another step toward protecting the Mediterranean Sea from oil prospections, requesting the processing of a document on exploratory drilling ("Sondejos exploratoris des de la plataforma Casablanca: Rodaballo promogut per REPSOL"). Members of the plenary recognised and thanked Aliança Mar Blava for the group's tireless work.

Additionally, attendees of the plenary adopted a joint motion presented by the PSOE and GxF. The motion received support from the entire house with the exception of the PP, and was aimed at backing a campaign for women's right to safe abortions.

Statement before the plenary
The Council's infrastructure, transport and IT councillor, Rafael González, appeared before plenary members to discuss his offices' work until today and projects on the horizon this legislative session. The councillor delineated the goal he said will underpin initiatives in all three areas: “To make Formentera more sustainable and ensure a high quality of life for residents”.

In the area of transport, González invoked the island's recently debuted network of nature trails —dubbed the Rutes Verdes— which provide walkers and cyclists a means to easily and safely move about the island whilst enjoying the natural surroundings. He also spoke about the ongoing task of promoting electric vehicles on Formentera.

As for infrastructure projects, the councillor underscored the completion of the public works project along the es Pujols street carrer Aigua Dolça as well as the start of urbanising works on the road which leads to the Formentera Farmers' Co-operative and the household waste drop-off centre, la Deixalleria. Moreover, he pointed to the upcoming transformation of es Pujols' town centre and waterfront promenade, a new pump for the town and a bid to pedestrianise the northern stretch of carrer Fonoll Marí.

The councillor also spoke about the importance of listening to and complying with the voice of the people. Hence, he announced his offices would set aside €250,000 for what he called “participative budgets” during the current legislative session.

Lastly, González promised the Office of New Technologies would also work to “make things easier for residents by making it possible to do more administrative formalities online” and “facilitate access to online information about the Council and activities in leisure and tourism”.

Govern pledges to lead reforesting charge in wake of Espalmador blaze

foto visita zona afectada espalmadorThree representatives of the Formentera Council (CiF), president Jaume Ferrer, president's office chair Bartomeu Escandell and environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, took a trip this morning with Govern Balear minister of environment Vicenç Vidal Matas to the area of Espalmador damaged by fire on August 13.

The reforestation plan, explained the Palma minister, will first entail cordoning off the affected area for safety reasons and to prevent visits to the site. Second, the plan envisions pruning and shredding of the burnt vegetation before ultimately reseeding with juniper seeds. Finally, Vidal invoked an outreach campaign to stem future negligent acts like the one that caused the recent blaze.

For his part, the Council president thanked the environment minister for his visit, which followed an earlier request made by CiF plenary members in view of “the need to return the site to its natural state”. President Ferrer asked that the planned work begin as soon as possible.

Formentera's waste management directive enters initial draft stage

Contenidors premsaThe Formentera Council's environmental arm has announced it will award a 35,492.93-euro contract to the firm Técnicas de Control Prevención y Gestión Ambiental Ltd for the drafting of a local sector-specific plan on solid- and urban-waste management. It will be the first time such a directive is devised uniquely for Formentera, and, according to CiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, will contain “criteria which turn on social and economic factors as well as environmental sustainability” in addition to “a clear emphasis on the distinct variables that come into play on each of the Balearic Islands”.

Highlighting the plan as a breakthrough, Aguilera pointed out that all the preceding directives had been for Eivissa and Formentera both and “failed to take into account factors specific to Formentera”. Indeed, one particular hurdle which haunts waste management on Formentera is the question of transport to Eivissa. To that effect, the councillor highlighted yearly waste-transfer costs of one million euros and invoked recycling which is, for its part, cost-free. Recycled materials, emphasised Aguilera, generate money that offsets the cost of transport. The councillor underscored the administration's efforts to raise awareness among private citizens and big waste generators about separating trash and recyclable materials and promised, “this is an effort that will reap both environmental and economic payoffs.”

In the councillor's words, “the directive will lay out the most appropriate model for managing waste on our island” while “seeking alignment with European, state and regional laws”. Aguilera homed in an additional aim the new directive will strive for: zero-waste production on the island. “This plan will help lay the foundation for new tender of the municipal waste collection contract”, she added. An initial deadline for the first draft of the document has been set at 21 months from today's date, though that could be trimmed down to nine weeks.

Formentera says checks of incoming olive trees would stem incoming snakes

foto control serpsLast night at 8.00pm, minister of environment Vicenç Vidal and head of species protection Joan Mayol, both of the Govern Balear, took the opportunity of a presentation at la Mola's Casa del Poble to announce the results of a campaign to capture snakes on the island of Formentera. Since April 76 traps have been placed and 262 snakes have been caught. According to Vidal, analysis by the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) of collected data indicates that 44% of the reptiles had eaten lizards. The regional minister called the data “cause for hope” that snakes could ultimately be eradicated from the island.

Formentera Council (CiF) officials present at the presentation included Bartomeu Escandell, who fills a joint role as councillor of the president's office and head of rural affairs, and Daisee Aguilera, the CiF's councillor of environment. According to Aguilera, given the promising nature of initial results the Council has already acquired an additional 60 cages to extend the trap-and-capture push. Created by the Eivissa's Escola d'Arts i Oficis, the traps are considered more environmentally “ethical”. The recently updated design boasts two inner compartments which keep the captured snakes separate from the bait, live mice. Thanks to the tweaked design the mice's lives are spared, and instead can continue to serve as bait to catch more snakes. According to Aguilera, traps have already been set in la Mola, Es Caló, Sant Ferran and Migjorn, and she made assurances that at present the invasive reptiles had only been found in la Mola and surrounding areas.

“The current trap-and-capture push, a joint effort of the CiF and Govern, is a very positive first step”, said Aguilera, “but more measures will be necessary”. To stem the arrival of snakes, the environment councillor says the most important measure to adopt will be “a control of incoming ornamental trees”. Aguilera cited olive trees as the principal method of transport for stowaway snakes. She also seized the opportunity to salute “exceptional co-operation on the part of la Mola residents and of the population of Formentera at large”.

Council puts together community clean-up of seafloor

neteja fons mari foto cif premsaThe Formentera Council's bureau of environmental affairs has announced it is organising a clean-up of Formentera's surrounding seafloor. Anyone interested in participating can register by calling 971 32 12 10 or emailing infoambiental@conselldeformentera.cat.

A meeting point has been set on Saturday September 24 at 9.00am in front of la Savina's Formentera Mar tower. According to CiF environment head Daisee Aguilera, organisers waited for the season's end because summer is when plastic and other litter are most abundant in the island's waters. The area of clean-up will extend from la Savina to Espalmador, Aguilera said, explaining that that is where boat traffic is highest. She also acknowledged that the scope of the intervention would depend on volunteer turnout and the weather.

The current initiative is part of a broader push for environmental awareness that the Council has driven all season long. Aguilera described the freshly created post of door-to-door canvasser, a person who will visit businesses, restaurants and hotels to educate people about correct rubbish disposal and improving Formentera's image.

The councillor thanked Ferrovial Services, S'Aigu Formentera, Orcasub, Blue Adventure Diving Formentera and Carbónicas Tur for their support in organising the project. Sponsor companies will provide boats, snorkelling equipment and snacks for volunteers. The Council will also present volunteers with a free set of Formentera's newest permanent recycling bags.

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