ORIHUELA PROTECTING THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
Mark Nolan / 2012-06-03 19:17:12
Not much more than a week after International Biodiversity day, when the focus was on the oceans and sustainability, we meet with the annual World Environmental Day, celebrated each year on 5th June, which aims to be “the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action”, as the official website says.
Environmental concerns are often considered to be outside our own reach, with masses of pollution from industrialised countries, dumping of waste into the sea, corporate irresponsibility, all symbolised by the facts against the myths of global warming, and the direct actions of groups of environmentalists who put themselves in harm’s way to highlight the issues of pollution and the planet.
Sometimes dismissed as nothing more than a fancy whim of a few “tree-hugging” hippies and politically correct activists, with many people questioning “does it really matter?” Well, the teams behind nearly 10,000 officially registered activities around the globe seem to think so, and that includes the municipality of Orihuela.
Because the stark fact is that it does actually matter and the slightest change to the balance of the natural environment can have wider, more catastrophic effects. The use of some pesticides being partly responsible for the decline in bee populations, which in tern means an increase in pollen in the air, directly affecting those who suffer from allergies, but also affecting the pollination of plants, which are a food source for animals and insects, which directly effects their food chain and may well ultimately lead to serious repercussions for the human race in terms of the lack of proteins available in the food sources that we choose to eat.
But even if we are not personally responsible for the death of the honey bee, we can be responsible in other ways. If you have read recent stories in The Leader, you may already be aware of the Arizona Cactus which is now spreading through areas of Torrevieja, wiping out native plants as it goes about its destructive growth. Also, the common Cape Fig, which is wiping out the native Cat´s Claw in the Cabo Cervera area, a plant which is unique to this area. Neither of those specimens are native to the area but were bought from garden centres and then allowed to grow wild, now threatening the native plants in the area.
The councillor for the environment in the municipality of Orihuela, Manuel Culiáñez, himself a member of the Los Verdes green party, has almost completed a guide book which will explain the benefits of the natural flora of the Orihuela Costa, and also explain some of the dangers that might be posed by a lack of awareness of how ornamental plants can be do destructive.
He said that “the ecology of the Orihuela Costa is very important and I see it as a crucial part of my role to bring knowledge to the people of the areas that need protecting”.
Martina Scheurer, another Orihuela councillor and also a member of Los Verdes, explained that “many people have bought plants to put in waste areas or grounds opposite their property and, although we acknowledge that this is their attempt to improve their own surroundings, without knowing which plants are dangerous, their actions could have very serious consequences on the natural environment”. The councillor then went on to explain that the guide book will fully explain which plants must be avoided and the reasons why.
In addition to this, the town hall has arranged for a guided walk to talk place, with a provisional date set for the 17th June, when a qualified and educated guide, who will be speaking in both Spanish and English, will take walkers on a stroll through the Orihuela Costa, taking in such sites as the dunes, the Aguamarina, Campoamor and dry river beds, showing as many of the specimens of plants they can find and explaining the importance of them. There are a number of these plants which are unique to the area and quite a few of them are already classed as endangered.
Although the walk and talk will be free, it is hoped that anybody wishing to take up the offer of the educational trip would email their intention first, so as to provide the organisers with as much information as possible regarding numbers, before the event. This can be done at the Town Hall in person, or by emailing the councillor direct on firstname.lastname@example.org.
But it´s not only the natural environment that needs protecting. Whilst carrying out an audit of buildings, the councillors discovered that there is very little cultural heritage on the Orihuela Costa, so they feel that they must do everything they can to maintain and protect buildings that may have an historic value. Two bridges have been identified as being of interest, one at the Puente de Aglea and another on the road from Campoamor to San Miguel. Although they only date back to the beginning of the last century, it still makes them around 100 years old and some of the most historic sites on the coast.
But the history goes even further back than the last century, as the team also located plans that are 12 year old, relating to an archaeological find which is currently on private land, to which the town hall are hoping to enter into negotiation to allow access, as the plans refer to the location of a medieval monastery at the Dehesa de Campoamor, dedicated to San Gines, a Roman actor and martyr. The same site is also thought to house water storage facilities and possibly even town walls, which could make the site of huge historical interest.
Little known by those who may stroll along the beach of Aguamarina, but part of that beach contains fossilised remains, thought to be 125,000 years old, which is around about the time that scientists believe modern man, Homo sapiens, left Africa, having only evolved between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago. Nobody could tell what those fossils could be, or the amount of life that has passed them by as they remain in place for such an almost unimaginably long time.
The good news is that all of these locations are featured on the guided walk which is set to take place soon. So if this has tempted you with a thirst for knowledge of what´s on our doorstep, and has been on the doorstep of so many before us, then the guided tour is set to fulfil that quest for information, enriching the knowledge of everybody who goes along and showing what a unique and diverse area we have on the Orihuela Costa, even if we sometimes take it for granted.