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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing & Hunting

Formentera looks ahead to new marine reserve

foto-punta-de-sa-creuSpread over 1,059 hectares, Punta de sa Creu marine reserve is due for approval in committee this Friday

The Balearic ministry of environment, agriculture and fishing has drafted an order creating a new, 1,059-hectare marine reserve called Punta de sa Creu in an expanse known by the same appellation between two other headlands, or “points”—Punta de la Fernanda and Punta des Far—that flank a rocky crag downhill from La Mola. Expected to pass review in a Friday November 16 meeting of the administration's “governing council” (Consell de Govern), the provision would give the stretch of coastline, deemed invaluable by ecologists and fishermen alike, special protected status. Not only is the area, as scientific studies suggest, home to a wealth of marine biodiversity, it is also crucial for the small-scale operations of local fishermen. As many as 23 distinct benthic habitats have been tallied there as well, such as posidonia seagrass meadows, photophilic algae and coralligenous assemblages cleaved upon hard substrate.

Visiting the site of the future reserve, the environment, agriculture and fishing minister of the region extolled the virtues of such safeguards and drew attention to the Balearic administration's track record on the subject—not only designating new expanses with protected status but bolstering patrols of the areas, too. Vicenç Vidal explained the role of the so-called “sustainable tourism levy” in bankrolling expansions to reserve surveillance personnel, which have gone from 7 to 14 in the last three years and are expected to hit a regional total of 17 with the green-lighting of a similar reserve at Tagomago. The planned reserve at Punta de sa Creu will have one patrol person as well as a dedicated boat.

The new reserve was advocated by a range of social collectives and public agencies, including the Formentera Council. To Jaume Ferrer, president of the local administration, Punta de sa Creu is a “promise that will be delivered on during this legislative session”. He also underscored the significance of the local fishermen's involvement in the process.

The surrounding area is a familiar backdrop for a host of activities directly related to the island's fishing resources. The time-honoured practices involve at least eight kinds of tackle and métiers—low-impact fishing boats typical in Eivissa and Formentera waters. The area of coastline is an extremely popular destination for recreational fishing practices—whether at the surface (volantí and curricà) or underwater—and tourists keen on scuba-diving. Regulation of such activities is a particularly important part of ensuring they can continue to accommodate biodiversity and the marine resources that live there.

Formentera's irrigation pond up and running

foto-bassa-de-reg-1The island's 88,000-cubic-metre irrigation pond—linked to a grid that uses 24 kilometres of pipes to provide 69 individuals with enough water to irrigate 114 hectares of land—is now operational.

Regional minister of environment, agriculture and fishing Vicenç Vidal was joined at a gathering marking the pond's activation by CiF president Jaume Ferrer, Balearic agriculture and livestock chief Mateu Ginard, and CiF president's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell.

On a visit to one of the local properties that can now tap water from the pond for crops, Vidal spoke about the pond's significance. Vidal called the final product—a mixture of desalinated and repurposed purified water—“one of the best tertiary treatments in the Balearics”.

President Ferrer applauded a rollout he described as “eight years in the making” (construction of the structure finished in 2009) and said the administration would dedicate resources to training people on how to use and administer “something that will put Formentera's countryside, and its revival, in the forefront”.

Joan Ferrer, who is chairman of an irrigation workers' collective, hailed the culmination of the project as he declared: “We've got land, water and a reason to be hopeful. Now the focus is on getting production to where it needs to be”.

The local agrarian sector's requests for the €8.2-million structure date back to 2003. The pond was finally completed in 2009, though the inactivity that followed made necessary an additional investment of €294,116 to get the pond operational once and for all during this legislative session.

Unlike with other irrigation ponds, which have a high chlorine content, the water in Formentera's irrigation pond filters through a desalination plant first to ensure it is apt for local fields.

Thirteen similar structures in the Balearic Islands use purified water to irrigate 3,600 hectares—3,600 on Mallorca, 691 on Menorca, 114 on Formentera and 85 on Eivissa.

Open enrolment for children's farming course

foto hort nens 2The Formentera Council's agriculture department reports that from today islanders can register their young ones to participate in courses on farming. Signups run Monday October 8 to the start of classes or until no more space is available. The classes themselves begin Saturday October 20 and continue to June, roughly the same timeline as the 2018/2019 academic calendar.

Tuned for youngsters, the course is a vector for environmental learning and individual and social development of participating children, adding a practical dimension to their day-to-day learning. Familiarity with time-honoured, rural traditions promotes respect for the environment and vice versa.

The workshops will take place Saturday mornings, with two distinct groups attending separate two-hour sessions. Four- to six-year-olds will gather from 9.30am to 11.30am and seven- to eleven-year-olds meet from 12 noon to 2.00pm. Children must be born between 2007 and 2014 to participate.

There may be no more than 12 children to a group.

Instruction will play out at the children's vegetable patch located near Sant Francesc's Sa Tanca Vella chapel. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear and bring a small bottle of water. The agriculture office will keep a waitlist to accommodate children not registered on time.

Department head Bartomeu Escandell attributed the course's return a fourth straight year to islanders' warm reception of past editions. The idea, he said, is to “get children learning about and enjoying the agrarian work with such deep roots on the island”. Pointing to initiatives like those carried out by the farmers' co-op, or the irrigation reservoir, Escandell declared: “On Formentera we're working to restore farming to the importance it once occupied, but without our young ones—the real farmers of tomorrow—we won't get there”.

Formentera celebrates co-ops

cooperativa-1-The Formentera farmers' co-operative, or Cooperativa del Camp, announces that this Saturday October 6 the Casal d'Entitats in Sant Francesc will be ground zero of the local observance of International Co-op Day. The event is being organised by the Balearic Islands federation of co-operatives and Formentera's own farmers' co-op. Support is provided by the regional ministry of work, commerce and industry with additional help from the Formentera Council.

The programme starts 12 noon, when heads of participating organisations will oversee a welcome ceremony. The main event, a round-table discussion about legislation which casts “microco-ops” as socioeconomic drivers, will be moderated by farmers' co-op head Carlos Marí and include Enric Pozo and Jaume Orell. The event is scheduled to finish by one p.m.

Farmers look forward to cereal harvest twice as large as last year's

campanya-collita-cereal-2018-a4The Formentera Council's rural affairs office announces that the local farmers co-op has concluded harvests of cereals across 21 member fields plus those lent to it as part of the group's Cens de Terres de Cultiu (“Farmland Reserve”) project.

Harvesting across a total of 17.5 hectares (10ha of barley; 5.5ha of oats and 2ha of wheat), the co-op logged 21,100 kilograms of cereals (14 tonnes of barley, 4,100 kg of oats and three tonnes of wheat)—twice the size as last year, when Formentera was hit by a drought.

Wet weather behind success
Department head Bartomeu Escandell welcomed the campaign's success, which he held up as the product of a “wet winter and a springtime cereals harvest which has reaped double what it did last year”. Escandell called such efforts “critical for the revival of the local primary sector and the protection of Formentera's rural environment”.

Factoring in another 39.5ha of fields belonging members of the co-op, the association oversaw work on a total of 57ha. That figure doesn't include another 52ha of fodder plantations, which were harvested in May.

Given the local varieties employed proved to be the most drought resistant, the co-op plans to use the harvested cereals for local consumption and seeds for future harvests.

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