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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.

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.

Formentera launches push to swap out contaminant

Foto presentacio campanya fibrocimentThe Formentera Council's Office of Environment unveiled details of a campaign encouraging individuals and households around the island to remove asbestos fibre cement in their homes. “Our hope,” said environment secretary Daisee Aguilera, “is that islanders make the decision to rid their homes of materials containing asbestos, and that they do it safely. It is not only harmful to human health, but to the environment as well.”

Interested parties can sign up today through January 15 on the Virtual Citizen's Information Office website (conselldeformentera.cat) or in person at the environment office on carrer Mallorca in Sant Ferran.

The Council is subsidising removal of related materials, transport to specialised plants on the Spanish mainland and the special bags used in the process. Initial removal costs, which vary based on the kind and size of material involved, must be covered by home-owners, though bills will reflect a reduction in the final payment due.

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.

Secretary Aguilera pointed out that Spain's ban on the sale and production of fibre-cement containing asbestos dates back to 2002. Materials containing asbestos are considered extremely dangerous due to component chemicals that pose serious health risks.

The removal effort will be headed up by Ca Na Negreta. Specialist José Antonio Pérez announced work would begin January 15. Prior to rollout, agents of Formentera's Office of Environment will run a cost study based on surveys of potential participants. The asbestos-removal push was unanimously approved by Formentera's plenary assembly in August.

Two Formentera girls celebrated for waste-water reuse ideas

Foto entrega premis aqualiaEnvironment councillor Daisee Aguilera, Eduardo de Castillo, chief of Aqualia's regional branch, and Maria del Mar Yern, head of Formentera's municipal water service, gathered today in the CiF hall of ceremonies to award a waterproof camera to the finalists in a contest hosted by the water management company.

The pair of primary school pupils —Agnès Escandell Ribas of Sant Ferran de Ses Roques and Kiara Berzategui Hammer of Mestre Lluís Andreu— were chosen out of 8,500 school children across Spain and Portugal by virtue of their ideas on reusing waste water.

This year's slogan was “Mission: Purification”. For the occasion, year three and four primary students had the opportunity to embark on a sidereal journey across the marvellous world of water purification and reuse.

The premise, explained the Aqualia chief, is “to get children to understand what happens to water, from when they use it at home to its return to nature after purification, as well as the breadth of uses that exist for recycled water.” Hence the idea to enlist the youngsters to creatively imagine what their own sustainable planet would look like.

Councillor Aguilera congratulated the two prize-winners and thanked Aqualia and Formentera's schools for their involvement, calling the initiative “a fun, creative and educational way to promote responsible water use”.

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