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Info session on money for forest buffer zones, recovering agrarian traditions

triptic-ajudes-forestals1This Wednesday 5 February at 9.00am, islanders are invited to the central offices of local government for an information session on funding for forest fire prevention in 2019-2020. Organisers describe the target audience as property owners near forested areas, members of the island’s farmers’ co-operative, biomass handlers and the public at large.

Speakers include Krystelle Roussel of the Agrarian and Fishing Guarantee Fund of the Balearic Islands (FOGAIBA) and Inés Landa of the Costa da Morte forest management service. FOGAIBA has pledged to give islands in the archipelago €1.7 million or more to manage forest parcels in areas where forest fires pose a medium- to high-risk.

Funding
Funding may cover up to 80% of total management costs (85% if there is a current plan for management and development of forested area), with consideration given to investments of up to €30,000. Applications will be accepted until 28 February 2020 and questions as to application procedure will be fielded at the meeting.

The money is intended to help individuals get ahead of an array of issues like creating preventive buffer zones and clearings in forest cover; maintaining buffer zones already in place by removing or pruning trees or by upturning soil near forest undergrowth; and managing trees affected by natural disasters. Funding for the recuperation of agrarian traditions will also be discussed.

31 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Road to sustainability—Formentera takes formentera.eco plan for legislative term to Consell d’Entitats

foto-formentera.eco 2020 2Members of the Consell d’Entitats gathered this evening, Thursday 30 January, to take a look back on the first year of formentera.eco and to discuss the objectives as the project moves forward. “The goal is the same whatever we do”, pointed out president and tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer, “and that’s to make Formentera a sustainable island tourists and residents can enjoy right now”. But that’s not all, Ferrer said: “It’s also about making sure future generations can enjoy Formentera, too”.

Formentera first embarked on its journey toward sustainability years ago, said Ferrer, who held up a host of measures like the plan to regulate incoming vehicles at Ses Salines nature reserve, the installation of e-vehicle recharge points, Save Posidonia Project and the system to constrict vehicle access to Es Cap de Barbaria. “The idea behind formentera.eco came from islanders”, said Ferrer, who added that the people of Formentera have “always been there to guide us on this path”. “That’s why we’re here now: to share our proposal for this legislative term, and this year, with the Consell d’Entitats”.

Greater reliance on sustainability
Mobility councillor Rafael González unpacked the figures from year-one of regulation and outlined the proposal for 2020-2023. “Formentera.eco has enabled us to buck the trend of increasingly crowded roads in summertime”, he said, explaining that the number of cars in circulation had dropped by 2%, pulling highway traffic down by 8% and giving rise to 1.6% and 29% increases, respectively—compared to 2018—in use of public transport and bicycles. “We’ve begun reshaping local mobility, and we’re relying more on sustainable models”, González quipped.

The main goal of formentera.eco is to do just that: more pedestrian zones, more room for bicycles, more public transportation...and fewer trips in personal vehicles. As González says, “this kind of mobility is crucial to the wellbeing of our residents and visitors”.

Proposals for 2020
2020 regulation plans include creating a mobility info point in La Savina harbour and new cycling lanes in La Savina and Sant Ferran, not to mention checks of signage across the island’s network of 32 natural trails and outreach to encourage islanders to use the trails. The local fleet of taxis is also expected to grow in 2020 by 17%, bringing the total number of cabs on the road to 41—up from 35 the previous year.

Improvements to public transport are coming down the pike, too, with the bus service expanding by 18% to accommodate a new route and increasingly frequent service. The changes will bring the total number of routes to seven, and buses will run from 6.00am to 12 midnight, with special night-owl service from midnight to 1.15am. For the first time ever, public transport will be free for riders under 18. Moreover, a new service concessionaire is set to be designated in 2021, and with it, more improvements are expected; the service will expand to nine routes and an even more robust nighttime service.

formentera.eco 2020-2023
The measures detailed above are all part of what González called an “orderly and gradual” regulatory rollout, and indicated the upper limit on permitted vehicles was expected to fall by 16% in four years. “We’re convinced that these improvements to mobility will bring about natural changes in the way people move”, said González, describing the eventual endpoint as “a more sustainable mobility”.

formentera.eco 2020
The ceiling on vehicles will likely be lowered by 4% in 2020. Last year the official limit was 22,382, however, only 21,929 motorists were given authorisation to drive cars on the island. The official limit this year will be 21,487.

The question of when regulation would be enforced was also put to attendees of the meeting. They were asked whether enforcement should go from 1 July to 31 August, or be expanded—begining the last week of June and extending across the first week in September. Visitors must pay €1/day for cars and 50 cents for motor-scooters (minimums—€5 for the former and €2.50 for the latter—are also established).

Permission to bring a vehicle and operate it on the island can be requested in advance. Such “pre-reservations” (prereserves) can be made from March on the formentera.eco website and formalised starting in April. Authorisation is guaranteed for people who have already reserved overnight lodging or ferry tickets for vehicle passage. A specific portal will be made available for related inquiries on formentera.eco.

The Consell d’Entitats’ member groups have been given one week to report the 2020-2023 proposal back to their associates; two additional sessions have been called for Thursday 6 February at 7.30pm (first group) and 8.00pm (second group).

30 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera unlocks nearly €100k for upgrades and refitting of fitness facilities

pista-es-cap-1jFormentera’s sport and island services departments report that in recent months roughly one hundred thousand euros have gone to improving and redesigning sport and fitness infrastructure around the island.

The largest investment came in just shy of €36,000 and involved the multi-modular sport pitches in Es Cap. Work included the installation of a new fence, a separation barrier between the pitch and bleachers, remote-controlled lighting and dustbins, not to mention fresh coats of paint on bleachers and removal of invasive vegetation. Sport councillor Paula Ferrer called the Es Cap upgrades “crucial” and said they would alleviate traffic at Antoni Blanc fitness centre.

Replacing the dehumidifying heat pump

Nearly €19,000 in upgrades went to the municipal pool, where crews cleaned and water-proofed the cover. Ferrer pointed out that plans were already under way to put to tender the replacement of the dehumidifying heat pump and to correct heating issues, the goal being to have the pool back in working order within the first quarter of the year.

Work at the municipal football pitch carried a price-tag of over €14,000 and saw crews mark out a new parking area, while a newly purchased handrail awaits installation.

More than €26,000 went into upgrades at the padel courts in Sant Francesc, where the foundation was repaired plus new turf and LED lighting installed.

Other work

Crews also performed various work elsewhere, like at the School of Music, where an air conditioning unit as well as two stereo systems (one stationary and one portable) were installed for less than €17,000.

A dishwasher was installed for €7,000 in Sa Miranda nursery and a newly installed  electrical panel at the Sa Senieta car park (price tag: €3,500) will be used for events in the festival tent.


30 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Agriculture minister logs first official visit to Formentera

foto-visita-bassa-de-reg-1-1Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer visited the island’s irrigation pond today with Mae de la Concha, chief of the Balearic office of agriculture. Other officials at the gathering included local councillors of environment and the primary sector, Antonio J Sanz and Josep Marí, respectively, as well as the heads of the regional government’s agriculture and water resource divisions (Gabriel Torrens and Joana Garau, respectively) and the managing director of Balearic Agency for Water and Environmental Quality (Abaqua), Guillem Rosselló.

Hailing De la Concha’s visit, Ferrer insisted that “the proper working order of the irrigation pond is crucial for Formentera because it enables us to close the water cycle”. The minister, for her part, pointed out that €94k already set aside in the 2020 budgets is intended so that only the highest quality water gets to local fields.

Purification plant expansion
Attendees also spoke about projects to equip Es Ca Marí with sanitation and upgrade the waste water pump in Es Pujols. The Abaqua chief said increasing capacity at the water treatment station known as “Edar” to 3,500 cubic metres would mean waste water from Es Ca Marí could be treated as well. Decision makers say that those measures, taken together, are key to making sure infrastructure works properly, and that the water ending up in fields and at the drainage pipe is clean—essential to closing the water cycle properly.

Ferrer identified high-grade water as vital to the Formentera government’s commitment to the local farming (in the past, that support has taken the form of reactivating the co-operative of Formentera farmers, in 2010, or creating the Farmland Reserve, in 2015). “So many fields that had sat fallow have been turned over to the co-operative so they can be tilled again; it’s a way to maintain our original natural beauty and reactivate the countryside”, she concluded.

29 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

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