Rid of pests the second largest palm grove in Europe. It is one of the main objectives of the contract for the integrated management service for the maintenance, conservation and protection of the Palmeral de San Antón de Orihuela that has been put out to tender for almost 1.2 million, specifically 1,188,462 euros for two years plus other two of possible extension, and which is 50% co-financed by European Feder funds. The City Council will invest 343,323 euros per year in the contract, which doubles the amount allocated to the previous one, which included the weeding of fruit and vegetables and only treated the specimens with phytosanitary products after pruning.
The new service takes a quantitative and qualitative leap since it is a comprehensive contract that, in addition to the maintenance and phytosanitary management of all municipally owned date palms located within the Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), a total of 5,932 of the 8,931 that the Palm Grove has, will carry out pruning and weeding, removal of fruit and suckers, tilling and clearing of plots or selective clearing. “What we want is to carry out the management plan established by the master plan”, The mayor of the Environment, Dámaso Aparicio, points out to this newspaper. The new phytosanitary program will try to end the fungi and diseases that the plants have, but if there is a plague that worries it is that of the red palm weevil that has killed dozens of palm trees in recent years. “They will be used from a trapping network to phytosanitary and biological treatments, avoiding chemical products as much as possible”, explains the councilor.
Since May 2019, 47 palm trees have been felled due to structural defects, weevil attacks and diseases. However, the City Council has planted in that same period 70 specimens from the nursery that it has in the Palmeral, as a producer agent. The forecast that the Department of the Environment manages is to plant between now and spring 110 new palm trees, of the 3,000 that the master plan foresees in 10 years. The nursery currently has 800 specimens. “We are working in the greenhouse to create and genetically extract the line of palm trees from Orihuela in order to continue transplanting in the future with the aim of recovering the palm grove, not just maintaining it,” says Aparicio. The contract that has been put out to tender provides that the company that manages it will be in charge of an individualized monitoring of each palm tree, of which 1,300 are monumental.
The main problem that the City Council finds in the case of pests, are those that are in private plots within the Palmeral. Currently, there are two that are of particular concern, on which the Ministry of the Environment, which is the one with powers to act and inspection capacity, has open files. They have significant weevil foci. The consistory also prepares reports on the conditions it detects in private farms and the breaches of the Valencian tree law, which denounces Seprona and the Ministry, but cannot act on those private farms, something that it intends to change with the new palm tree ordinance. prepared by the Department of the Environment. With the new ordinance, which will replace the current one that is obsolete and that is intended to be approved at the beginning of next year, the City Council will be able to intervene in those rustic plots within the BIC where both the Department and the local body detect foci of pests and, after the action to prevent the spread, pass the cost to the owner of the private estate.
The future norm will not only contemplate sanctions for owners who do not properly maintain palm trees within their property, but will also establish aid, through a subsidy or the so-called “green check” or “palm check”, for those who manage the palm trees properly. plants on their farms. In this way, it is intended to help owners of private plots to cover part of the cost of maintaining the palm trees. At the same time, the council works together with the Generalitat to create a joint commission to complement the BIC that will allow defining the boundary and all the conditions of the Oriolano Palm Grove, both for public and private plots.
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