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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Environment

Push to clear washed up seagrass from Es Ca Marí shoreline

Foto Es Ca Marí bermes posidòniaFrom tomorrow, 17 March, the Formentera Council's office of environment will begin removing mounds of posidonia seagrass that have accumulated along the Es Ca Marí shoreline. The announcement was made by environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, who noted “the process will take between two and three days if weather is fair”. The Formentera Council will foot the bill for transport, and any residents interested in using the washed up plant matter for farming or livestock purposes should contact the office of environment. Requests can be made in person at the department (open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), by email at mediambient@conselldeformentera.cat or by calling 971321210.

The removal process itself will be similar to in 2014, and is being repeated at the behest of the Es Ca Marí neighbourhood association. As Aguilera explained, “in winter the area is hit by both westerly and south-westerly winds, which leads to a tightly packed build-up of seaweed that can reach three metres in height”. Studies indicate that sporadic removals are more appropriate than systematic ones, she said.

Formentera's head of environmental affairs noted the crucial role posidonia seagrass plays in the health of Formentera beaches, pointing out it prevents shoreline erosion. Local beaches are especially susceptible, which explains why complete removal of the seagrass is undesirable. According to Aguilera, the practise – which involves hauling off a portion of the accumulated plant matter – serves a dual function: allowing beach cleaning crews to do their work and preventing further spread of the washed up weeds across the coastline. She also highlighted the fact that, in the process, the tradition of reusing the material has been revived.

Posidonia for composting

The councillor noted the suitability of the dried seagrass in composting. She encouraged Formentera residents to contact the office of environment and give new use to the seagrass, whose nearby prairies have been named a World Heritage site. Aguilera also referred to a recent repurposing of the material that has long been favoured by locals: use in building. “This method has been rehashed and is being employed in the low-income housing currently under construction in Sant Ferran”.

Home composting course in la Mola

Curs compostatge foto premsa EDIT 350x251The Formentera Council has organised a course on home composting to take place Saturday 12 March in the primary school of la Mola. Residents interested in attending can sign up at the office of environment located on carrer Mallorca in Sant Ferran. Led by specialist Juanjo Torres of the group Amics de la Terra, the course costs €20 per person, but, as department head Daisee Aguilera pointed out in her office's presentation of the course this morning, participants will each come away with a compost bin valued at €100, as well as the knowledge of how to use it.

“Residents will have the opportunity to see how waste can be transformed into usable products. This helps people reduce the environmental impact of what they do at home”, said Aguilera. Councillor Aguilera highlighted the Formentera Council's efforts to revitalise the local countryside and said the goal of the composting classes is “to give Formentera residents the tools to use organic waste and scraps to enrich their land”. “Any waste we can reuse is waste that doesn't end up at the Es cap de Barbaria transfer plant”, she noted.

Hazel Morgan, a representative of Amics de la Terra, called the home composting push important because “it's the most sustainable way to make use of the organic waste generated at the domestic level”. For his part, Torres called home composting “surprisingly easy” and encouraged residents to seize the opportunity of the classes. He noted that compost can be used both in the garden and vegetable patch.

Composting for young people

Staff specialist Javier Asensio announced plans to hold the course at the la Mola primary school – a model site, given that the school's own vegetable garden already serves as a lesson in home composting for la Mola kids. Asensio said that beyond the course itself, which will be both theory-based and hands-on, Amics de la Terra also envisions “phone-based support and a follow-up visit to each student's home” to make sure the compost bins are being used correctly.

All additional costs will be covered by the Council; so far this has meant a contribution of €3,000. Organisers hope to schedule a second version of the course before summer starts. Between this Saturday's course and a second one, the Council says some 50 residents can benefit. The course is included as part of the activities programme for the 15th Olimpíada Pagesa. Organisers thanked the Olimpíada's planning team for their support and the Trasmapi company for helping with travel costs.

Formentera celebrates first energy efficiency day

Jornada Eficiencia Energetica premsaThe Formentera Council's offices of environment and transport have organised the first day-long reminder dedicated to promoting energy efficiency—la Jornada d'Eficiència Energètica. Today's event was just one part of the celebrations for the worldwide Energy Efficiency Day, which is set to take place this Saturday, 5 March. Eight stands were set up around the Sant Francesc square (la plaça de la Constitució) for the occasion, providing passersby with information on transport, sustainable building and clean energy.

The idea for a local celebration of the day, said councillor of environment Daisee Aguilera, emerged during the discussion that followed a 15-December screening of Ibiza y Formentera 100% renovables. As Aguilera stated, “at that point it became clear that a large portion of Formentera residents wanted more information and advice about energy efficiency”.

“That's why we've brought together the offices of the administration and different stakeholders associated with energy efficiency. Now that there is no doubt climate change is real, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gases”, said Aguilera.

Four groups—the NGO Amics de la Terra, the nonprofit Som Energia, the Balearic Islands housing institute (IBAVI) and ECOform, a company working in sustainable energy—set up informational stands to raise awareness about specific actions in their respective industries. In addition, IBAVI architect Carlos Oliver led two guided visits—the first from 12 noon to 2 p.m. and another from 4 to 5 p.m.—of the low-cost housing units currently under construction in Sant Ferran. The homes, said Councillor Aguilera, “have set the standard in energy efficiency in the Balearics”.

Sustainable transport

Councillor Rafael González, head of transport, explained his office's chief target as “promoting sustainable transport and electric vehicles on the island”. According to González, such transport supports “the model of tranquility and care for the environment that we want for Formentera”.

González pointed out that Formentera is home to 12 free recharge points with a total capacity of 28 vehicles. Moreover, he noted, the Council offers “tax incentives, like requiring electric car drivers to pay only 25% of the circulation tax”. Among the other perks for those who make the electric leap, the transport councillor touted free parking in la Savina and free entry to the Ses Salines national park.

Three electric vehicle rent-a-car agencies—Ok Cars, Cooltra and Europcar—displayed some of their fleet on the square and the Es Brolls company had electric bikes for sale. For his part, Joan Groizard, director general of energy and climate change of the Govern Balear, attended the event as well. He put it simply: “What we need in the islands is a change in our energy model”.

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.

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