- Dozens of dry trees blocking gullies in Sierra foothills
Dozens of trees that were felled almost three years ago, mostly pines, are still gathered accumulate in the foothills of the Sierra de Orihuela after being washed down the slope by heavy rainfall last September.
The runoff displaced these dry trees, some of large volume, at the foot of the mountains, in addition to carrying many other pine specimens ripped out by the force of the water and that have not been removed by the Ministry of Environment.
Many of the trunks have ended up clogging ravines and causing flooding, as happened in the Oriolana district of La Aparecida.
The added danger is that, if there is more heavy rainfall the trees could be dragged further down and cause the water to become clogged in more densely populated areas, causing even more flooding. Many of the trees washed down the slopes have lodged themselves very close to the houses, as is the case in Raiguero de Bonanza.
In 2015 and 2016 there was intensive felling of pine trees that had dried out after suffering an attack of the «tomicus destruens», a small beetle that, together with the intense drought and the high temperatures experienced during those years, saw 90 % of the forest mass of the Sierra de Orihuela destroyed.
According to a report by the Ministry of Environment, the removal of dead carcasses was scheduled to begin in October 2018, after being awarded in January of that year. However, none of the work has been done, that also included erosion control through the construction of fajinas, wooden structures of branches to cover ditches, and the restoration of the vegetation cover. The Ministry of Environment had allocated an investment of 301,000 euros for this work.
The PP has been asking in Las Cortes about the non-execution of these removal tasks and last week the lack of action was denounced by the PP deputy, Elisa Díaz, and the president of the PP of Orihuela, and Councillor for the Environment, Dámaso Aparicio.
“Trees and shrubs have accumulated because the Consell has not carried out the work that they promised would begin in October 2018,” said Díaz.
According to Díaz, the state of the Oriolana mountain range, with its accumulation of dead and unreforested biomass, has intensified the damage caused by DANA.
However the southern face of the Sierra de Orihuela still has hardly any trees three years after the forest mass was destroyed by pests and drought. The planting of shrub and sub-fuel species to reforest the Oriolana mountain range was to begin in September of this year, but yet again nothing has been done.