Regional and local representatives during Wednesday's visit to the Río Vélez wetland area / SUR

Andalusian regional government earmarks four million euros for Axarquía rivers

The Junta is to invest 250,000 euros in the improvement of the wetland at the mouth of the Río Vélez, and has drawn up projects for the improvement of other rivers including the Chíllar in Nerja, Torrox and Algarrobo

Eugenio Cabezas / Jennie Rhodes

The delta at the mouth of the Río Vélez is one of the most important natural sites in the Axarquía, with a huge wetland inhabited by thousands of birds, both native and passing through. However, the area, between Torre del Mar and Almayate’s beaches, is under serious threat, which has led environmental and cultural groups to call for greater protection.

The Junta de Andalucía has announced that it is investing 250,000 euros in its environmental restoration, in works that began last year and will be completed in 2023.

At the same time, the regional government has drawn up projects for the improvement of other rivers in the Axarquía, including the Chíllar in Nerja, Torrox and Algarrobo, in which, together with the Río Vélez, it plans to invest four million euros from European funds. The announcement was made on Wednesday (15 June) during a visit to the mouth of the Río Vélez by the respresentative for the sustainable development department, Ana Corredera.

In the work carried out so far in the wetlands area of the Río Vélez, 43,000 cubic metres of sediment have been removed, which have been transferred to the surrounding beaches to regenerate them. In addition, invasive species have been removed and the area has been regenerated with native plants.

School visits

"The aim is that school visits can be organised, something that we have to promote together with the town hall and department for education,” said Corredera, who went on to say that the project would “contribute to the recovery of an environmental and landscape system".

Corredera highlighted the work done by Vélez-Málaga town hall to limit vehicle access to the site and maintaining irrigation to support the planting and said that the provincial government is providing the native plants for the right bank of the river.

The Sociedad Azucarera Larios S.L., owner of 210 hectares of agricultural land in the area, is contemplating the construction of 1,221 homes and 2,152 hotel rooms, in a project that is being processed by the town hall, pending the approval of the Junta de Andalucía.

However, environmental groups have raised concerns about the impact the development would have on the Río Vélez and the risk of flooding that building on a flood plain would bring. The town hall has said that as part of the project, Larios would have to look into building flood defences.