The first silk floss tree was lifted on Thursday and transported to a new location. Moreno
Complex rescue operation to save silk floss trees begins due to metro works in Malaga city centre

Complex rescue operation to save silk floss trees begins due to metro works in Malaga city centre

This week, the large and iconic trees on the central reservation are being relocated to local gardens to ensure their survival

Ignacio Lillo


Friday, 7 June 2024, 15:39

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Have you ever seen a tree fly? If not, you can watch the show between today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) on Calle Hilera in Malaga city centre. And it is free of charge. On Thursday afternoon the first silk floss tree was extracted from the central reservation to make way for the works on the metro tunnel. The tree, weighing some 30 tonnes, was originally planted in front of the Gloria Fuertes nursery school and was removed from the ground in the presence of many local residents with their mobile phones at hand, in an operation that lasted over two hours.

The works to build a metro tunnel to the Hospital Civil affect 36 medium and large trees, but they will not disappear. After commissioning a specific study of the trees along the route, mainly in the Calle Hilera central reservation, Santa Elena and in the grounds of the Pablo Ruiz Picasso school, the regional ministry of public works, with the collaboration of the construction company Sando-Kerkros, has already began to transplant many of these trees in nearby green spaces.

The most important phrase of the operation is between Thursday and today (Friday), which involves the removal of silk floss trees (also known as kapok trees) up to 20 metres high. The transplanting of these trees, which are currently planted in the Calle Hilera central reservation, takes into account each one's characteristics.

Treeplatform system

These relocations are being carried out under the technical supervision of the company Doctor Árbol, managed by Gerard Passola, a biologist and internationally renowned expert in arboriculture, and in collaboration with Malaga city hall's parks and gardens department.

Due to the size, weight, travel distance and conditions of the specimen, these transfers require special machinery, tools and treatment. The technique used to transplant huge trees with large crowns is called the Treeplatform system. This consists of using a wide platform to pick up the tree by its root ball, which remains intact. This usually causes no problems - as has been the case with the first silk floss tree - during the uprooting, transfer and replanting processes.

Operation under way

In the early hours of Thursday morning this specimen was scheduled to be moved to a garden area in the Plaza de la Solidaridad, next to Callejones del Perchel. For this short transfer along several main roads (Hilera-Armengual de la Mota- Plaza Albert Camus-Avda de la Aurora-Calle Gabriel Celaya-Callejones del Perchel-Plaza de la Solidaridad) they needed to move a traffic light on Calle Gabriel Celaya.

This Friday, the silk floss tree located on the Calle Hilera central reservation (in front of the Vértice building) will be transferred to a nearby flower garden on Calle Peso de la Harina. The species, native to South America, stands out for its thick trunk, which serves as a water reservoir during periods of drought, as well as for its irregularly distributed stingers or thorns. It is a deciduous tree, which sheds all of its leaves during the dry season. In fact, there are three species of silk floss trees in Malaga city that grow flowers of different colours.

Successfully relocated

So far, twelve Livistona palms and five carob trees, among other specimens, have been successfully transplanted in nearby landscaped areas, such as the one that is being created following the restoration of the access ramp to the tunnel in Callejones del Perchel. Other trees have been replanted on Avenida de Andalucía in front of El Corte Inglés, and in the Jardines de Picasso on the same road.

For smaller specimens, the traditional technique is used, which consists of extracting the root ball by fixing it with a metal mesh and moving it to nearby green spaces. After relocation, these trees require special treatment, with planned watering, especially on the driest days of the year. In any case, many of their new locations already have drip irrigation systems, which facilitate their survival.

After the transfer of the silk floss trees this week, two specimens of pepper trees and a large ficus, located in the Pablo Ruiz Picasso school, will remain to be moved. These interventions, planned by the regional ministry of public works and Malaga city hall's parks and gardens department, aim to minimise the effect of the works on the landscaped areas, although some diseased specimens have had to be removed.

Once the tunnel works are completed and the affected area is resurfaced, the council aims to plant trees of the same species, which will one day end up as large as the previous ones.

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