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Formentera to host participatory ecology workshop for Natura 2000

foto penyasegat-sa-calaOn Tuesday, September 11, the conference hall of Formentera's dependent care centre will be the scene of a workshop for islanders either affected by or curious about a new strategy in place in certain parts of Formentera, dubbed SPAs, whose prevalence of certain birds entitles them to special protected status.

Management plan
The strategy, or “management plan”, as it is known, regulates the ways people can use SPAs and the measures that will be applied to safeguard protected habitats and species. The plan also covers restorative measures intended to correct the problems currently affecting the spaces, and species, in question.

Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is a network of nature protection areas in Europe whose biodiversity has been identified as particularly important. It covers two kinds of places—those which the EU's Habitats Directive designates as “SCIs” (Sites of Community Importance) and those that the EU's Birds Directive labels “SPAs” (Special Protection Areas) for birds. The goal is to protect habitats and species which are of particular interest to the European community. EU member states are required to pass strategies aimed at converting SCIs into “SACs” (Special Area of Conservation), the final step in their incorporation into Natura 2000. The management plans define how inhabitants of the places in question must interact with the natural spaces in need of protection, so the broader the buy-in surrounding the mechanisms ultimately chosen, the better. That's where the workshops come in.

Executed by GEN-GOB, the workshop also happens thanks to collaboration from the Balearic Islands regional government. The Formentera Council, too, is chipping in with funding from the Save Posidonia Project. The goal of the workshop, apart from engaging a multiplicity of stakeholders in the effort to convert SCIs into SACs, is to foster dialogue about the complexities facing Natura 2000 strategy building.

The workshop will take place as follows:

• 11.00am - Opening remarks and plenary assembly.
• 11.15am - Exploring objectives behind the strategy.
• 12.15pm - Taking stock of measures included in the strategy.
• 2.00pm - Lunch.
• 2.45pm - Conclusions and final plenary assembly.
• 5.00pm - Closing remarks.

The workshop is open to everyone. Registration is, however, mandatory.
For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

At the close of the workshop, GEN-GOB will send participants a report including a summary of material covered and the day's takeaways.

Subsequently, and prior to adoption of the management plans, the regional government will present a draft of Formentera's plan for public review. Comments relating to the proposed plan will be accepted during an ensuing review period.

Nature group enlists drones in effort to monitor strain on Formentera coast

foto-dron-cala-saonaThe Formentera Council's environment office reports on the most recent raft of actions performed last week by the environmental group GEN-GOB aimed at advancing a broader, on-the-ground effort already under way to promote sustainable management of posidonia seagrass meadows. That project, titled “Posidonia and sustainable marine strategies on Formentera”, is being funded by money raised in the first year of the Save Posidonia Project.

Those involved in the push, which began in July, hope to gauge the strain that anchoring watercraft place on nearby meadows of Posidonia oceanica seagrass and assess the extent of preservation.

Work last week involved using drones to capture photos of all the ships anchored in Formentera's waters.

On Wednesday August 29 two drones flew over a large portion of the island's seaboard in an effort to map and measure the ships stationed there and determine if they were anchored on seagrass meadows.

Two outside firms specialised in drone operations were enlisted in sizing up the areas of the island's coast which receive the most maritime traffic. One operative piloted a drone as it flew over Punta Pedrera, es caló de s’Oli and s’Espalmador, then directed it towards Punta Prima and es Pujols beach. The second pilot used a drone to photograph three areas—Migjorn between Punta de l'Anguila and es Copinar; Tramuntana beach between es Racó de sa Pujada and cala en Baster/es Quintalar; and cala Saona between Punta Rasa and es caló d'en Trull.

The operatives worked from noon till six in the evening, taking into account the particulars of each area, such as the times when ses Illetes tends to receive the greatest number of visitors, or when the number of boats at cala Saona typically levels off.

The waters between ses Illetes and s'Espalmador were home to the greatest number of watercraft.

While it is still too early for a definitive tally, a provisional survey of watercraft anchored in the island's least trafficked area found 90 boats in cala Saona, 10 in Migjorn and 24 between es Caló and es Racó de sa Pujada.

Nature group pushes ahead with efforts on ground to protect Formentera seaboard

foto compilant dadesThe Formentera Council's environment department reports that this week, a coalition of environmental advocates and bird-watching enthusiasts called GEN-GOB (Grup d'Estudis de la Natura / Grup Balear d'Ornitologia) has completed the second part of an on-the-ground initiative which received funding from last year's Save Posidonia Project.

Beginning in July and dubbed “Posidonia and sustainable marine strategies for Formentera”, the operation is aimed at quantifying the pressure that anchoring ships place on the meadows of Posidonia oceanica seagrass located along Formentera's coast. Operatives also intend to study the success of conservation efforts under way.

To get there, members of the operation have travelled by boat to locate watercraft anchored on sand, rock, posidonia meadows and another seagrass, Cympodocea nodosa. The tracking operations used a system known as AIS (Automatic Identification System) which enables boats to broadcast their coordinates and other relevant information. Divers were dispatched in an effort to assess the state of posidonia meadows.

Preliminary findings
Some four hundred ships anchored on Formentera's coastline were counted in August. Dives took place at ses Illetes, Llevant, es Racó de sa Pujada and Migjorn.

Based on analysis of the data gathered, observers have noted that fewer ships are stationed along the coast than in the past. Previous years saw as many as 760 boats dotting the coastline. Ses Illetes and Cala Saona are historically areas where strain on the seaboard is greatest.

Likewise, drops have been registered in the number of boats anchoring on posidonia thanks to motorboat patrols and more informed seafarers.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera, who welcomed the decline in boats dropping anchor on the seagrass, encouraged continued participation in Save Posidonia Project. “This year will be the project's second”, said Aguilera, “and we need everyone to get involved if we're going to push ahead with research and outreach to preserve this undersea treasure”. She pointed out that anyone interested could still adopt square metres of the seagrass at the www.saveposidoniaproject.org website.

Phase three of the GEN-GOB project is set to take place in September.

Training sights on mosquitos, Formentera ramps up pest control at ses Salines preserve and other local spots

foto moscardThe Formentera Council's environment office says rains this August are behind the decision to extend pest-control operations targeting mosquitos and insects in the Chironomidae family. The expanded measures—application goes from twice to four times weekly—is part of an effort to keep the pests in check across ses Salines' high-moisture areas.

The approach is being replicated in other locations on the island where pools of stagnant water have been identified. The sites include one at carrer Guillem de Montgrí, a street in Sant Ferran; another halfway between the dependent care centre and football pitch; and a large puddle at kilometre marker 8.9 of the main highway.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera pointed to a series of household measures—“watch out for puddles and keep chlorine levels where they need to be in swimming pools and sinks”—as useful to preventing a surge in mosquito numbers. She recommended fitting wells and cisterns with mosquito nets, and said animal water should be changed every two to three days.

The pest-control effort at Estany Pudent, Estany des Peix and the can Marroig salterns began this year in April and will continue to late October. As in the past, the effort focuses on areas of with high concentrations of fresh water, prime targets of the insect pests.

The anti-mosquito, anti-chironomid measures are preventive, targeting larva using a biological treatment called Bacillus thuringiensis Israeliensis, which acts on larva directly and prevents them from reaching adult age.

This year's biological control effort is expected to cost €32,075.45.

Posidonia figure on nautical maps of Formentera

daisee-aguilera--miquel-mir--i1The environment office of the Formentera Council reports that nautical maps put out by the Cádiz-based Instituto Hidrográfico de la Marina and featuring information about the island's neighbouring posidonia meadows are now available for purchase in paper and digital formats.

The measure will enable ship capitans to spot meadows and steer clear of them when anchoring. Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera hailed the news, saying “knowing where the sea grass meadows are is crucial to protecting them” and applauding the collaboration between the Formentera Council, the Govern balear and IHM.

While not the sole factor pertinent to explaining recession of the sea grass, boats dropping anchor on meadows is one the causes. Posidonia is a deciduous underwater plant responsible for the clearness of Formentera's waters, which Aguilera cited when asserting the new maps were “groundbreaking for Formentera and for the Mediterranean as a whole”.

April start
A tool to help highlight the presence of posidonia, the acronym “SG” for “sea grass” has incorporated the nomenclature since April, marking the first time an underwater plant is included on nautical maps. The new term makes it possible to differentiate between the plant and seaweed (unlike the former, the latter has previously figured on similar maps).

For reference in the initiative, IHM used maps from Project Life Posidonia as well as eco-mapping from MAPAMA, which contained information about posidonia meadows across the Balearics.

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