Tuesday, 31 January 2023
The Junta de Andalucía has issued a report which will lead to the permanent closure of the Ojén Eco Reserve, near Marbella. The report considers that the irregularities detected in the inspection that caused its closure to the public in February last year have not been resolved.
The Ojén Eco Reserve is located on public forest land and was granted a permit in May 2016. Since then, the owners have been allowed to develop the space as long as the conditions established by the regional government were fulfilled. However, the Junta’s report considers that the animals’ enclosures do not meet requirements, meaning that they could come into contact with both workers and visitors. In addition, many of the infrastructures have been made by the managers of the Eco Reserve and while they are functional, they are not approved by the Junta.
The report also states that "the facility is not registered as a producer of hazardous waste and its environmental authorisation does not permit the generation of such waste". The main concern is related to the feeding of wild animals. Antonio Calvo, the head of the Eco Reserve explains that in order to keep the animals during the year that the area has been closed and without income, they have had the help of different organisations, the main one being El Corte Inglés supermarket, which has delivered a pallet of fresh fruit and vegetables every day.
According to Calvo, what the Junta considers hazardous waste is the plastic and cardboard packaging in which the food comes. The containers have been disposed of in normal containers, but the Junta specifies that they must be disposed of correctly and have a corresponding permit.
At the moment the process to revoke the permit is in the open to objections, but when this period is over and there are no changes, the manager of the Eco Reserve will have one month to vacate the space and remove all those installations that have not been declared valid by the Junta de Andalucía.
Another point in the report is the relocation of the animals. Most of the animals on the land are native species and the Junta is obliged to take care of them until a solution can be found. However, there are some animals that are not correctly identified according to the regional government’s criteria. As such, these animals must be relocated in compliance with health regulations to facilities authorised in the Register of Livestock Farms such as zoos or zoological parks.
Calvo explains that he sometimes receives calls from local residents reporting injured animals and that if he can go to help them, he does. "I can't leave them in that situation, I am an animal lover", he says, adding that although he is aware of the procedures they have to go through to be rescued, his way it is quicker.
Despite being closed for a year, the Eco Reserve has managed to keep going with donations from organisations and individuals and Calvo’s dedication. For a time he had the help a number of volunteers, after the 10 members of staff that had worked there while the place had permit had to be let go. However, the Junta de Andalucía prohibited the access of volunteers after the summer for security reasons.
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