Land north of the eastern ring road. / ñito salas

Malaga plans to reforest its mountains in the next 28 years with Green Belt project

It will cost an estimated 56 million euros and will reduce pollution by raising levels of CO2 absorption

JESÚS HINOJOSA Malaga

Malaga council’s Urban Environment Observatory (OMAU) is planning to create a Green Belt around the city, as part of its ‘Alicia Malaga Climate Plan 2050’ to reduce pollution. This project includes reforesting all the hills and mountains around the city within the next 28 years, so that by 2050 the levels of CO2 absorption are much higher than they are now.

The Green Belt, which will cost an estimated 56.5 million euros, covers three areas: the east (to the north of the eastern ring road), the north (above the Hiperronda bypass) and the southwest (agricultural land around Churriana, the Guadalhorce river estuary and north of Los Ruices environmental complex). Altogether, this amounts to 7,619 hectares of land, which is 19.2 per cent of the total in Malaga.

The OMAU has carried out field work to ascertain the present state of these areas, a lot of which is scrubland. They plan four phases: sowing shrubs in areas with very little vegetation; planting more aromatic species and shrubs on grassland where some already exist; planting species such as small palms, mastic trees and myrtle in areas with more vegetation; and planting trees in the final phase. “We would start by planting small trees like wild olives, and then bigger ones such as carobs and holm oaks,” says the document.

CO2 absorption

According to the study, the vegetation in this area currently absorbs 1,426,289 tonnes of CO2 a year, and within 20 years of this project beginning that absorption would increase by 797,004 tonnes, by 1,288,820 tonnes in 25 years and, in 30 years, by 1,835,957 tonnes.

This plan for the Green Belt plan clashes with those of the mayor, Francisco de la Torre, to build around 500 homes on land north of the eastern bypass. That project was reflected in the draft Urban Plan of 2011, but it was put on hold when the Junta de Andalucía approved a wider-ranging metropolitan plan which protected the land that had been earmarked by the mayor.