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Fresh round of spraying in Formentera's assault on pine processionary

foto helicopter fumigacioThe environment department of the Formentera Council announces that from Tuesday October 9, weather permitting, a new phase of operations will be introduced by the healthy forests service as part of an eco-friendly effort by the Council and Govern balear to stem the spread of the pine processionary in the Es Cap de Barbaria area of the island.

Aerial dusting is performed with a helicopter that is equipped with on-board DGPS technology which gives an operator precise control over which areas are treated and how much pesticide is administered. The insecticide, a “phytosanitary” product, is a natural, kurstaki variety of Bacillus thuringiensis found naturally on the ground and plants, and typically breaks down with exposure to UV rays in a number of days. It also does not affect bees and is fit for use in organic farming.

For optimal results, it is recommended that Bacillus thuringiensis be applied annually for a period of four years.

Dusting generally takes place between October 1 and November 15, although scheduling depends on the pest's stage of development as well as weather conditions. Two applications are staggered several days apart to assure the naturally degrading pesticide eliminates larvae born after the first run.

Area to be treated
Engineers of the effort plan to treat 1,600 hectares of “pure” and “mixed” pines affected by the pine processionary. The area of treatment was chosen based on two factors: captures recorded in traps installed as part of a 2014 effort and nests found over past winters.

Other steps
A whole series of actions in addition to the aerial spraying include traps to capture the insect in its moth form, a push to destroy nests in winter, structures to house predators of the pest, such as bats, and an outreach effort to educate people about the problem.

Formentera pupils get smart about plastics problem

foto-plastic-zero-1The Formentera Council's departments of environment and education have teamed up on Plàstic 0, an initiative launched by Observadores del Mar, a “science platform for the people” overseen by the ecological group Gen-Gob in Eivissa and Formentera.

Problematic plastic
Plastics have become one of the most widespread human-made materials today. It is relatively cheap to produce and extremely resistant, which explains its abundance in oceans and seas and across the coastlines of the world. Plastics make up 97% of the materials found in these places, and that's touching off a gathering environmental crisis in practically all underwater ecosystems.

Plastics break down into smaller and smaller particles known as “microplastics” (a distinction reserved for particles no greater than 5 mm large) and typically enter the lower rungs of the food chain when certain marine organisms mistake them for food.

Plàstic 0
Plàstic 0 is about getting the engagement and commitment of a wide base of people, from early childhood, to deliver real answers and solutions to complex issues like the microplastics littering our shoreline.

Since 2017 Gen-Gob, together with a number of schools, has been responsible for collecting samples at Eivissa beaches. This year Formentera's three primary schools have joined in too, adopting local beaches Cavall d'en Borràs, Migjorn and Es Pujols.

In the words of environment secretary Daisee Aguilera, “it's crucial that we reach our children about the importance of caring for the environment. The data we'll obtain are vital because it will be part of a nationwide effort. Our children, meanwhile, will be acting as scientists in training and learning the significance of taking care of our surrounding ecosystems”.

Cavall d'en Borràs beach, chosen by the pupils of Mestre Lluís Andreu school, will see action this Friday. Operations will be overseen by Agnès Vidal, head of Gen-Gob Eivissa's environmental outreach division, who explained: “The children will be in charge of this beach during the entire term. A new group will come each month and collect samples to be analysed for microplastics”.

The samples will be placed into categories and shipped to Blanes, where final results will be compiled and a plan of action to tackle the problem will be developed.

Formentera proves recycling pays

foto projecte envasosAt midday today, the former plenary hall of the Formentera Council played host to the launch of an initiative, Be Blue, that encourages islanders to toss their used cans and plastic bottles into any one of five stations on the island in exchange for points towards prizes.

The presentation was overseen by the Council's environment secretary and a spokesperson for the Be Blue project, Daisee Aguilera and Maria Vecino, as well as a number of the project's design, production and assembly specialists.

In Aguilera's words, Be Blue is about “showing islanders that litter is worth something”. “Keeping materials like paper, glass and plastics out of the bin means reducing the amount of material in the landfill”, said the secretary, “which in turn means slashing the bill footed later by the whole island”.

Maria Vecino described the impetus behind the initiative as twofold: incentivising recycling among Formentera's visitors and residents, and “getting commitment from Be Blue's participating businesses that they will match total points with a donation to Save Posidonia Project”.

Recycling stations

Islanders can recycle for points at the following locations:

• Carrer Sant Jaume, 28, on the school-side pavement (Sant Ferran).
• La Mola highway at km 6.2, opposite Ophiusa supermarket (Sant Ferran).
• Avinguda Vuit d’Agost, 90, opposite IES Marc Ferrer (Sant Francesc)
• Avinguda Miramar, 49, opposite the tourist information point (Es Pujols)
• Avinguda 8 d’Agost, 10, Sa Senieta car park (Sant Francesc)

How the system works

All five machines work in the same way and will only accept cans or plastic bottles. Users must insert objects one at a time and, when finished, press a green button to obtain a ticket indicating their points earned. Each recyclable can or plastic bottle is equal to one eco-punt.

Recyclers can cash in points for prizes, included in a catalogue available at www.formenterabeblue.com. Points can be redeemed at Sant Francesc and La Savina's offices of tourism, the department of environment (conselleria de Medi Ambient) in Sant Ferran, and at Vell Marí in La Savina.

Formentera seeks to delegate 'core' of waste treatment plant buildout

planta-de-residusThe Formentera Council's environment bureau reports the administration has tapped Geprocon to execute the €9,900-plus-tax “core project” in the run-up to creation of a treatment plant for construction and demolition materials.

The contract covers not only preparation of administrative permit requests but also help during tender of the project. The deadline to submit draft proposals for the “core project” has been set at two months. The plant's creation is laid down in Formentera's “sectorial waste directive”, which obtained preliminary approval July 27.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera said the new facilities could turn building scraps into aggregate to be cycled back into construction, as filler for foundations, for instance, or for road improvements.

Formentera to host info session on pine processionary

Foto lluita processionaria premsaAt 7.30pm on Wednesday September 26, the Formentera Council's Sala d'Actes will host a gathering dedicated to educating professionals, homeowners and any other interested parties about the pest known as the pine processionary.

Head of Balearic healthy forests service Sandra Closa will use the meeting to outline the push planned for the coming month by the Formentera Council and the Govern balear.

Observers first discovered the pine processionary locally in 2007; operations to stem the pest's spread were put in place shortly thereafter.

In hopes of controlling the plague, the two administrations have opted for a new round of controls, including expanding aerial spraying of the natural pesticide.

Aerial treatment
Pine tree groves are dusted with the help of a DGPS-equipped helicopter which offers full control of how much pesticide is applied and to how wide an area. Operators use Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural “phytosanitary” product (or simply a “pesticide”) that is commonly found in nature on the ground and on plants. It can remain on plant leaves for multiple days and degrades naturally with exposure to UV rays. Bacillus thuringiensis does not harm bees and is also effective for treatment of other pests like mosquitos.

From next month a number of points on the island experiencing surging pine processionary numbers will be treated. Meteorological conditions (temperature, wind, relative humidity and rainfall) as well as the particular developmental stage of the larvae will affect when treatment is applied.

Other strategies
Another line of treatment still in place targets the nests the pest makes in winter to keep warm. Manual and mechanical forms of nest removal have been deployed as part of joint campaigns by the Balearic environment ministry (Ibanat, the ministry's nature institute, provides its own eco agents) and the Formentera Council.

An additional natural control measure involves installing sanctuaries for bats, which prey on the caterpillar in moth form.

Both Council and Govern have published brochures, currently available at several points across the island, with complete information about the pine processionary.

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