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During three-week push, 5,785 caterpillar nests removed

Processionaria redux1The environment office of the Formentera Council reports that 5,785 nests of the pine processionary caterpillar have been collected and destroyed in the three weeks since a correlated campaign was launched. This most recent push began January 8 and has seen the administration partner with Ibanat and state environmental agents.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera called the figures “a reduction compared to 2015 and 2016, when crews found 12,000 and 6,627 nests, respectively”.

Ibanat agents have already removed an additional 791 nests. Both land- and air-based strategies, which involve dusting some 1,500 hectares in es Cap de Barbaria with Bacillus thuringiensis, have had positive results.

Visual inspections
As in the two previous campaigns, officials have once again teamed up with the healthy forests division of the Balearic Islands' ministry of environment. That department, using a strategy known as “visual identification”, locates nests in affected pine trees and communicates the findings to the Council and Ibanat, who in turn oversee the nests' destruction.

Detection and elimination form the basis of the regional environment ministry's yearly plan for comprehensive control of the pine processionary caterpillar on Formentera. Other features of the plan include traps to monitor and capture pine processionary butterflies; a four-year dusting strategy (2017-2020); installation and maintenance of structures to house bats, predators of the pine processionary butterflies; and a study of the pest's associated parasites.

Formentera's water works adds two new electric vehicles to fleet

nous vehicles electrics consell i aqualia servei daiguaRepresentatives of the Formentera Council and Aqualia gathered today to unveil the newest additions to the local water works' fleet of service vehicles: two new electric vans. The two vehicles, both Citroën E-Berlingos, will be added to Aqualia's reserve of dedicated vehicles.

Besides a battery life that promises 125 kilometres of driving per charge, the new vehicles are totally electric, thus cutting fossil fuel consumption and reducing C02 emissions into the atmosphere. Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera explained the vans would save 2,800 litres of fuel per year, the equivalent of 3.55 tonnes of C02 emissions. She cast the change as the Council “coming through on its commitment to sustainable mobility”. “This is part of our push to protect the environment, slow climate change and ultimately replace our store of conventional vehicles with ones that are more energy efficient”, she said.

Aguilera pointed out the vehicles run silently and thus contribute to reducing noise pollution, which, offered the secretary, “is especially important on an island like Formentera with protected natural spaces. It's a change that will make the island a nicer place to be — for islanders and visitors alike”.

In the words of Eduardo del Castillo, the head of Aqualia's Balearic office, “here at Aqualia we are deeply aware of the importance of protecting the environment”. The proof, he held, is that Aqualia was the first in its field to calculate its carbon footprint globally and for every action the company takes. “Our idea is to progressively switch out old vehicles on our fleet with non-polluting ones” — just so long, he said, “as they meet basic battery life and capacity levels for the work of the municipal water service”.

In addition, del Castillo explained that Aqualia had equipped its facilities with two recharge stations. Sixteen such spots, installed by the Council and with capacity for 32 vehicles at once, can already be found around the island.

The addition of the new electric vans brings the Formentera Council and Aqualia one step closer to sustainability and making Formentera a place with a minimal environmental footprint and maximum energy efficiency.

Council activates push to remove nests laid by pine processionary caterpillar

Foto processionaria 1This Monday the Formentera Council's Office of Environment rolled out a new initiative to control an infestation on the island of an invasive caterpillar known as the pine processionary. Department head Daisee Aguilera explained that, over two weeks, a pair of professional forest service workers brought in by the administration will administer a treatment strategy based on the manual and mechanical removal —and subsequent controlled burning— of the processionary's nests, or “tents”.

As with the two previous iterations of the push, the Formentera Council is again operating in tandem with the regional ministry of environment's healthy forests service and department of natural spaces and biodiversity. Both agencies agreed to helm the campaign in response to calls from the Formentera Council, which, in their time, were fruit of the efforts of environmental organisers like hunters and beekeepers on Formentera's Consell d'Entitats and a universally-backed motion brought before the island's plenary assembly. Two other groups, the Balearic institute of nature (Ibanat) and environmental service agents (whose title is abbreviated to “AMA”), are also participating in the initiative.

As early as Monday the brigade's two forest service professionals removed roughly 400 tents from pine trees located on a swatch of land near Sa Tanca d'Allà Dins. The Council provided various hunters' groups with 2,250 ammunition cartridges; the hunters have volunteered to assist in efforts by firing at hard to reach nests high up in pine trees. Estimates put the initiative's potential cost in 2018 at four thousand euros, though that figure could change.

Public encouraged to report newly-detected nests via smart-phone app Línea Verde
Likewise, a new tab has been activated in the app Línea Verde allowing users to report the exact location of caterpillar nests they have found. The move gives islanders a direct line of communication to notify the Council about the tents so the necessary response can be adopted.

Should islanders, especially residents of Es Cap de Barbaria, come upon any of the pine processionary's nests, they are encouraged to communicate it the Formentera's Office of Environment by means of Línea Verde, a telephone call to 971 32 12 10, or an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it so the appropriate action can be taken.

Bacillus thuringiensis-based treatment
In October 2016 a land treatment strategy was conducted using the active agent Bacillus thuringiensis rather than the chemical agent Diflubenzuron, which was proposed in 2014 and rejected by the people of Formentera.

The application of Bacillus thuringiensis was successful, though improvements were limited to the country lanes and areas crews had been able to reach by vehicle. The pest's spread has made a more extensive treatment necessary, and in October of last year two air dustings of the agent were carried out over 1,500 hectares in Es Cap de Barbaria.

The immediate effects of treatment appear to be positive, with significant reductions of the nests reported in areas of the island that have been treated. In any case, though preliminary reports indicate reductions in both the caterpillar's numbers and the expanse of areas affected, Aguilera warned that “until checks of Es Cap de Barbaria have concluded, any evaluation of the various treatment strategies will be impossible”. The air dustings conducted in 2017 are part of a four-year plan, and their results will be evaluated gradually as time goes by.

Final days of asbestos-removal push

Foto presentacio campanya fibrocimentThe Formentera Council's Office of Environment wishes to remind homeowners that the end of an asbestos-removal campaign on the island is approaching.

Interested parties have until January 15 to register online via the OVAC (Virtual Citizen's Information Office), at conselldeformentera.cat, or in person at the Office of Environment on carrer Mallorca in Sant Ferran.

The Council subsidises the costs associated with the hazardous waste's removal and shipment to the mainland as well as those of special bags used in the process. Homeowners are billed for the service, but the final balance reflects a discount.

Factoring in subsidies on payments, the cost per 100 kilograms of materials removed is as follows: €40 for asbestos plaques; €80 for small pieces; and €150 for reservoirs.

A specialist brigade will be brought in to oversee pick up, which is scheduled for January 15. The asbestos-removal push was unanimously approved by Formentera's plenary assembly in August.

Thumbs up for test drive of organic waste recycling programme on Formentera

Foto recollida organica bar centroThe Formentera Council's Office of Environment reports that from June to September, a four-month pilot programme across fifty businesses and other establishments in Sant Francesc meant that 100 tonnes of organic waste were collected for recycling.

The list of participants included bars, cafés, hotels, supermarkets, a hospital and a school — all considered producers of substantial quantities of waste. Each one was given special, small bins which crews picked up on nightly door-to-door collection runs.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera thanked participating businesses for their efforts, which made for a savings of €167 per tonne —or €16,700 over all— by reducing the waste that is treated and shipped to Eivissa.

Compost
Councillor Aguilera pointed to other benefits too, like a programme at the Formentera treatment plant that will supply local farms with compost. Organic matter and a special mixture of tree clippings to add structure are allowed to mature during a four-month process that ultimately produces compost for farmers of the island.

According to Aguilera the idea behind the initiative —repurposing organic waste to create a product apt for local fields— is “zero waste production”. Council personnel with specialist training have described the quality of the compost (participants are urged to set aside organic waste alone) as “very good”.

The €80,000 programme is paid for by the Formentera Council and a €32,000 grant by the Leader group. On the back of the programme's bumper response, the Council is studying expanding the organic rubbish recycling programme across other “big rubbish producers” on the island.

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