There have been a number of recent reports citing damage to people and property caused by fallen palm trees that have broken under the weight of their fronds or fruit and whilst we all accept how wonderful they are to look at when correctly pruned many would agree that they actually serve no purpose whatsoever, they provide no shade and they continually drop their seeds. They can also be dangerous, dirty and ugly when left untended or only occasionally maintained and in many areas of the Orihuela Costa this is the situation that many of them are now in.
Only a few short years ago the palms would be tended twice a year. They would be treated, pruned and sprayed as they presided majestically over our streets. They looked positively regal as they provided a royal Mediterranean welcome to visitors. But now they have been allowed to become overgrown, there are far too many for the local authorities to manage, they are causing damage to our pavements and to our roads and they create a variety of unnecessary hazards, many of which, for an elderly population, can be extremely difficult to manoevre.
In Aguamarina there is a fully mature palm tree situated every 3 metres. Calle Agua, for example, is approximately 300 metres long, but it accommodates approximately 100 trees. This provides the street with almost one tree for every 3 meters of its length. According to local experts, the recommended spacing interval for this type of tree is between 20 and 30ft. In C/Agua therefore, just one of hundreds of similar streets on the Orihuela Costa, there are 50 palm trees too many. If this were to be replicated across the coast the result would be a surplus of many thousands of trees. These are all trees that cost many hundreds of thousands of taxpayers euros to be maintained, much of which could so easily be saved or put to other and better uses.
Until recently pruning was carried out twice a year. Now it is rarely more frequently than once, so for rather more than half of every annum the trees, and the streets and avenues that they line, look truly shambolic, so residents can actually get quite excited when they see the arborist, or ‘tree pruner’, arrive for his annual visit, but unfortunately it nowhere near often enough.