Image of the Almanchares River near El Saltillo bridge / e. cabezas

Almanchares river “invaded” by subtropical plantation, say Axarquía environmentalists

The GENA-Ecologistas en Acción organisation has warned that natural slopes are being broken by terraces which they say are prone to erosion

Eugenio Cabezas
EUGENIO CABEZAS

Despite the persistent drought that is plaguing the Axarquía, where La Viñuela reservoir is on the verge of reaching the same levels as the historic low of October 2008, the rise in subtropical plantations continues.

The environmental group, Gabinete de Estudios de la Axarquía (GENA)-Ecologistas en Acción, has reported to the Junta de Andalucía the “invasion” of a subtropical fruit plantation near the Almanchares river in the village of Canillas de Aceituno.

According to the organisation’s spokesman, the biologist Rafael Yus, the complaint is part of a dynamic that has been occurring "with total impunity in the Axarquía area". He went on to say, "They are indiscriminately planting subtropical fruit trees in places such as the banks of the river.”

In his opinion, "the way in which work is being carried out on very steep terrain with serious erosion problems is worrying and the manual planting of this type of trees, interspersed with traditional dry land, was already inappropriate, this practice has been outdated for many years.”

Erosion and desertification

As a result of these practices, "slopes are being brutally broken by terraces on very unstable slopes, highly prone to be eroded by rainwater, resulting in the progressive destruction of these terraces and the excessive contribution of debris to the river beds," said Yus, adding that it is "increasing the already demonstrated high rates of erosion and desertification that the Axarquía has been suffering for centuries".

This latest complaint refers to plot number 252 in Canillas de Aceituno. According to Yus, the plot is located to the south of the Almanchares river, covering the areas of Hoya del Alcornocal and La Umbría.

For GENA-Ecologists in Action, "The facts have been confirmed as very serious, as the hillside has been removed with bulldozer-type machinery, making terraces of limited width, as the steep slope does not allow for anything else."

As a result, given the instability of the slope, "A large amount of debris from the excavation has accumulated in the riverbed itself, at two different points, seriously affecting all the hillside vegetation and the undergrowth, much of which has disappeared.”

Request to restore the land

The environmentalists say that they don't know whether these operations “have been carried out with the corresponding environmental impact studies and if they have the relevant permits from the owner of the property, especially in relation to the occupation of the public water system, as well as where the water flow for irrigation necessary for a subtropical plantation is obtained from".

GENA has requested that the owner of this plot “restores the land to its natural condition, and especially the riverbed to its previous dimensions and character, applying the sanctions and charges that are pertinent to this infraction”.

Aerial images of the plantation / SUR