Category: Environment

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Mogán town council assumes direct management of services on Playa de Mogán

The Mogán Local Council on Friday installed new sun beds and umbrellas on Playa de Mogán, beginning direct management of seasonal services of this popular beach, along with the other six beaches for which it now holds corresponding authorisations: Las Marañuelas, Costa Alegre, Taurito, El Cura, Aquamarina and Patalavaca. Since last summer they have also been in control of direct exploitation of  Puerto Rico and El Perchel beaches.  The majority of these coastal tourism enclaves were managed by private companies who held the concessions, some of which had been in place for decades. 

#WeCrossMountains

The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 27-29 January 2023

Tenteniguada Almond Blossom Festival
It’s the last weekend of January and exactly two weeks to go until the 2023 Carnival season starts on Gran Canaria. This weekend will most probably be enjoyed with a drop of wet weather, Sunday being forecast as the rainiest. The southern tourist enclaves look to also see a bit of cloud cover and even a small chance of seeing a few drops of rain. However you look at it, it may be handy to have umbrellas and raincoats around during the days to come. There is even the possibility of some snow on the mountains as we head into next week.

More than half of all Canary Islands properties sold last year were bought by foreigners, more than half of those non-residents

While we still await final figures for the last quarter of 2022, the latest official data from The Canary Islands has shown foreigners are buying more homes in the Canary Islands than ever before. The number of real estate acquisitions by non-residents in the Canary Islands has risen 52% compared to the same period in 2021, and is already 16% higher than the highest ever record set in 2017.

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Works on the new Soria-Chira hydroelectric project expand to the Soria Dam

The new Salto de Chira hydroelectric power station project broke ground this year, after nearly 2 decades of planning, with works now being prepared on the primary wall of the Soria dam (the largest in The Canary Islands) and its surroundings, where a spillway will be constructed to facilitate access via a service road to install elements such as water intake, the hydraulic circuit along with a secondary tunnel which will be installed.

Gran Canaria’s Southern tourism heartlands have only one Blue Flag beach, with none in Mogán for 5 years now

The Canary Islands have been awarded 54 Blue Flag beaches and four awards for marinas, distinguishing those facilities that meet criteria of excellence, in terms of the quality of bathing water,  environmental regulations, and health and safety infrastructure.  While Maspalomas and San Agustín have not achieved the honour this year, Playa del Inglés is the sole remaining Blue Flag beach on the south of the island.  Mogán’s beaches have not achieved any blue flags since at least 2017.

The Canary Islands Ministry of Health have reported that 58 Blue Flags  were awarded for the 2022 edition. 54 beaches and four marinas. On the Canary Islands, the Blue Flags initiative is managed with the collaboration of the Regional Ministry of Health, working through the Canary Islands Health Service General Directorate of Public Health.
Blue Flags are an annual award and environmental quality certification system developed by the Federation of Environmental Education (FEE). In Spain, this initiative is coordinated by the Association for Environmental and Consumer Education (ADEAC).
These awards distinguish those beaches and marinas that meet the criteria of excellence in bathing water quality, compliance with environmental regulations and that have sufficient health and safety infrastructure to guarantee safety for their users.

Opinion: “The main tourist areas of Mogán and Maspalomas received only 1 Blue Flag beach this year, namely El Inglés beach in San Bartolomé de Tirajana. However both the privately operated sports marinas of Puerto de Mogán, and Pasito Blanco were awarded a Blue Flag each, suggesting this is about more than just water quality.
Municipalities wanting this recognition for their beaches need only apply to get it; and Mogán, which includes Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, Tauro and Amadores, among others, has not done so for years. Something in the water has perhaps prevented this town hall from dipping their toes in…?“
While there may have been a lack of focus on such things during the pandemic, despite significant work to protect the dunes, areas like Maspalomas are fully expected to regain their Blue Flags by next year, or there maybe questions…
Beaches with Blue Flag in the Canary Islands: 54
GRAN CANARIA: 12Agaete: Las Nieves.Agüimes: Arinaga.Arucas: El Puertillo, Los Charcones.Gáldar: Sardina.Ingenio: El Burrero.Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Las Canteras.San Bartolomé de Tirajana: El Inglés.Telde: Hoya del Pozo, La Garita, Melenara, Salinetas.
FUERTEVENTURA: 12Antigua: Castillo*.La Oliva: Corralejo Viejo, Grandes Playas, La Concha.Pájara: Butihondo, Costa Calma, El Matorral, Morro Jable.Puerto del Rosario; Blanca, Los Pozos, Puerto Lajas.Tuineje: Gran Tarajal.
LANZAROTE: 7
Arrecife: El Reducto.Teguise: Las Cucharas.Tías: Grande (Blanca), Matagorda, Pila de la Barrilla, Pocillos.Yaiza: Blanca.
LA GOMERA: 3Alajeró: Santiago.San Sebastián de la Gomera: La Cueva, San Sebastián de la Gomera.
EL HIERRO: 2Pinar del Hierro: La Restinga.Valverde: Timijaraque.
LA PALMA: 6Breña Alta: Bajamar.Breña Baja: Los Cancajos.Los Llanos de Aridane: Charco Verde, Puerto Naos.Santa Cruz de la Palma: Santa Cruz de la PalmaTazacorte: El Puerto de Tazacorte.
TENERIFE: 12Adeje: El Duque, Torviscas.Arona: El Camisón, Las Vistas.Garachico: El Muelle, Piscinas Naturales de El Caletón.Guía de Isora: Playa de la Jaquita.Icod de los Vinos: San Marcos.Los Realejos: Socorro.San Cristóbal de La Laguna: Piscinas Naturales de Bajamar, Piscina Natural del Arenisco.Tacoronte: La Arena (Mesa del Mar).
The Blue Flag Program strives to promote the sustainable development of coastal areas through the demand for high standards in the quality of bathing water, safety, environmental management, sustainability information and education, criteria all taken into account when granting Blue Flags to the award-winning beaches of the Canary Islands.
Ports with Blue Flag in the Canary Islands: 4
GRAN CANARIA:P.D. of Mogán.P.S. Pasito Blanco (San Bartolomé de Tirajana).
LANZAROTE:Marina Puerto Calero (Yaiza).
TENERIFE:RCN of Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
The criteria that a marina with a Blue Flag must meet are divided into three large blocks: Information and Environmental Education, environmental management, and Security and services.

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Measuring the effects of a nuclear blast in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria

What would happen if a nuclear blast went off in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria?
Anti-nuclear war campaigners, Outrider.org, have produced a simulation system that allows you to choose any town or place to see what the immediate effects would likely be were they unlucky enough to be hit by a nuclear strike.

Though this is at first a little shocking, it is designed to make you think, more locally, about how terrible these weapons really are.  In the face of the current situation in Ukraine, with posturing from both sides suggesting that nuclear weapons could be a factor, Outrider.org are continuing with their longstanding work to try to prevent any such possibility from ever occurring, through education and information.
The organisation, set up to educate the public on the dangers of nuclear war, offers insight into the numbers likely to die and get injured in such a blast, and allows the user to not only choose the target, but also compare different sized weapons, but in a ground strike, and air burst scenario, asking “What would happen if a nuclear weapon went off in my backyard?”
Their focus is to end the threat of nuclear war and reverse the course of global climate change.
Outrider.org envision a world where people live without fear of nuclear annihilation or climate-induced catastrophe. “We can” they say “make the world safer and more secure if we work together.”
Outrider uses digital media to provide accessible information about how we can build a brighter future together. Everything they do is designed to help build deeper understanding and to inspire action.
Outriders

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66 specimens of the Yemen chameleon located on Gran Canaria since 2017

The Canary Islands Ministry of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning, through the Canary Islands Early Warning Network for the Detection and Intervention in cases of Invasive Alien Species (RedEXOS) working the public company Gesplan, have, since 2017, located a total of 66 specimens of  Yemen chameleon on Gran Canaria, mainly in the municipality of Arucas.

This invasive species on the islands can pose serious danger to some animals and plants endemic to the Canary Islands and even just possessing them, as with the Californian Kingsnake, among other examples, is illegal throughout the Archipelago, only possible under special license.
These arboreal reptiles being on Gran Canaria is largely due to human actions, and citizen collaboration is essential for their detection and removal from the natural environment. For this reason, RedEXOS has a web portal and a mobile application through which sightings of any species considered invasive can be reported, in addition to calling 646 601 457 or emailing redexos@gobiernodecanarias.org.
This species is native to southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where it inhabits plateaus of mountainous regions above 2,800 meters, forests and low-lying agricultural fields. About a third of the specimens located on Gran Canaria were female. Their reproductive capacity allows them to lay from 12 to 80 eggs in each clutch, which can be repeated several times a year.

The Yemen chameleon is included in the list of invasive alien species of concern for the outermost region of the Canary Islands by Royal Decree 216/2019, of March 29.

Red de Alerta Temprana/ Early Warning Network
The Network for the Detection and Intervention of Invasive Alien Species in the Canary Islands (RedEXOS) emerged in 2017 as a pilot project of the Government of the Canary Islands with the aim of locating, identifying, analysing, controlling or eradicating new arrivals or populations of invasive alien species (IAS) or with invasive potential, thus preventing their establishment or expansion.
Recently, and as established in art. 14 of Royal Decree 630/2013, of August 2, which regulates the Spanish Catalogue of Invasive Alien Species, officially designates the Canary Islands as the focal point of the State Alert Network, thus creating the Canary Islands Early Alert Network ( Decree 117/2020, of November 19, which deals with the State Alert Network for surveillance of invasive alien species, creates and regulates the Early Warning Network of the Canary Islands for the detection and intervention of invasive alien species).
The management of the platform and interventions by the network’s resources are articulated around citizen participation, encouraging warnings of the presence of any invasive exotic species. Both the web portal and the mobile application use the collaboration of citizens as a key factor to detect any need for action, in such a way that it contributes to raising awareness about the need to preserve our biodiversity. This allows the recording information on the territorial distribution of species and their evolution and monitoring over time.

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More than 3 million square meters of Güi-Güí is now publicly owned by Gran Canaria

The Cabildo de Gran Canaria island government has acquired, through auction from the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT), a total of 2,852,630 square meters, in two plots, at the centre of the Güigüí Grande and Chico ravines, for €2,876,000. These lands join the ​​225,340 m2 purchased via the same procedure last January, for a total of 3,071,000 square meters, making the land public property.

In the two purchase projects the institution spent a total of €3.1 million, representing just 7.5% of the price requested at the time by the former owners, and one and a half million euros less than the appraisal that was carried out 13 years ago  commissioned by the Cabildo. Between the Cabildo owned land and local government municipal property, the majority of the accesible areas of the Güi-Güí Special Natural Reserve now becomes publicly owned, leaving several inaccessible areas and cliffs in private hands.
The president of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, explained in a visit this week, accompanied by technicians, representatives of the Tax Agency and journalists, just off shore from this spectacular wild part of Gran Canaria’s West Coast, that “Güi-Güí is part of our identity, as a landscape, as a symbol of the island, as [our] cultural and natural heritage” and the purchase of these plots is now a historical fact that brings to a close “a long struggle to guarantee protection for one of the places with the greatest natural and historical wealth on the island, which becomes everyone’s on Gran Canaria”.
The purchase was part of a strategic policy from the Cabildo de Gran Canaria to acquire land of special ecological and patrimonial value as a way to guarantee its conservation and protection. This operation will allow the organising of how the areas is used within the reserve, since the farmlands are located in the ‘heart’ of Güi-Güí, and used often by the Canarian population, in the surroundings of the natural beaches and old farming areas.
Güi-Güí, has three ecosystems in the same area, from pine forest, to thermophilic forest to the south and one of the most important cardonal-tabaibal enclaves in the world. Its environmental value exceeds the other national parks around the islands in the number of endemic species of flora, insects, reptiles, birds and marine fauna.
The “Montaña de los Cedros” is home to the only wild specimens of Canarian cedar on Gran Canaria, a population that has gone from just about 50 known specimens in 2003 to around 1,000 today, thanks to the Life Güi-Güí program that the Cabildo has been running since 2013, with funding from the European Union. The cedars are the last of the original forests that once populated this area, which were depleted by logging, and can now be regenerated in a natural way.
For all these reasons, Güi-Güí is a Special Natural Reserve, one of the largest existing protection categories, as well as a Special Conservation Area within ​​the Natura 2000 network. It is also part of the nucleus of the Bisofera Reserve of Gran Canaria and its coast conserves one of Gran Canaria’s two major sebadales, natural seagrass meadows, declared a Marine Reserve and Natural Eco System of National Interest.
Archaeological Teams have cataloged 18 sites within the Güi-Güí massif, including mines (one of them the largest obsidian quarry on the island) and/or sanctuaries like the Hogarzales mountain and Los Cedros. In addition, the area, due to its isolation, has meant little of the land has been in use and few people have settled there. Güi-Güí is inaccessible to road traffic, which is unusual on an island so densely populated,  offering a landscape very similar to how the island would have looked several centuries ago.
 

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Seaplane heroes of 43 Group carry out Gran Canaria exercises ahead of the summer heat

Beach users, bathers and holidaymakers, those few, for now, on Gran Canaria’s favourite Maspalomas beach, were treated to an unusual surprise on Monday. Delighted sun seekers unexpectedly witnessed some of the preparatory exercises currently being carried out by the Spanish Air Force heroes who fly the big yellow seaplane of the UME 43 group. These guys became instantly famous, most recently, on the island back in summer 2019, and briefly during February 2020, when they were deployed to help decisively deal with the forest fires we suffered up at the summits of the island. Their training exercises, to make ready for the summer ahead, are flying out of Gando air base, right beside the main commercial airport, until May 20 every morning and afternoon this week.

The exercises themselves are training crews, known as the “corsairs of 43 Group” to better recognise various areas most likely to be endangered by forest fires, as well as the location of resources in the area, as the temperatures start to climb towards our annual summertime highs. For this the crews need to be carry out various tasks including filling the water tanks from the nearest water sources, and understanding the local sea conditions that would allow them to land when necessary. According to the Spanish Air Force, this practice depends very much of the state of the sea, as it can present a lot of added difficulties when compared with reservoirs, lakes and rivers.  As Gran Canaria has relatively few choices for being able to quickly scoop water at speed, these exercises provide vital knowledge and confidence for live deployment situations.
 
This Canadair CL-215T from the 43rd Air Force Group is currently based at Gando, preparing for the summer campaign ahead. Essential in the fight against mountain forest fires, every year they intensify their preparations as we head into the main season for vigilance.
Between October 1 and June 15, two of these planes, with their crews, are kept active and ready for immediate takeoff from the Torrejón air base, near Madrid in central mainland Spain, where the unit’s main base of operations is located. However, in the so-called summer campaign, between June 15 and September 30, the unit tries to focus their best efforts on maintaining a minimum of 70% of the available aircraft, with their crews, ready to act in any of risk areas of the peninsula and the islands.
The Spanish Air Force #43Group celebrated 50 years since the arrival of the very first CL215s in Spain last February. The first two Canadair landed at Getafe air base on February 8, 1971, having flown from Montreal, on a flight that took 23 hours and 20 minutes in total. Over this aircraft’s 50 years of service to Spain, they have performed almost 185,000 flight hours, of which more than 86,000 correspond to real missions, mainly extinguishing forest fires in Spain and abroad, in support of other nations including Portugal, France, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Israel among others.

These iconic airplanes used by this specialist unit could not have carried out such an important range of missions were it not for all the personnel, aircrews and maintenance and support, who have left their mark over this half century trying to ensure that the dangers of the heat and the natural environment do not rage out of control or endanger the population. Heroes every one they are responsible for what is now 43 Group. While the celebrations were marked earlier this year some time was also taken to remember the 15 members of the Spanish Air Force who have given their lives in that time fulfilling this mission. The greatest respect and admiration is due to these rockstars of the skies.
With luck this year will pass without serious incident or the need to call on these majestic seaplanes, who have come to our aid many times over the years on Gran Canaria most notably playing a defining role in putting to an end the devastating fire of August 2019 that destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of wild virgin pine forest and led to almost 10,000 evacuees having to be moved at short notice off the mountains of Gran Canaria.

No todo son aviones ✈️
Detrás de cada vuelo existe un nutrido grupo de magníficos profesionales trabajando #24siete por la defensa de nuestro espacio aéreo y la seguridad de los españoles .
Como nuestros #aviadores del #43grupo, nuestros admirados #corsarios ☠️?. pic.twitter.com/Wjp661sup6
— Ejército del Aire (@EjercitoAire) May 12, 2021

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Gran Canaria Cabildo to plant 8000 trees across several zones, recovering forest, and creating green fire-resistant areas

The Cabildo de Gran Canaria are allocating more than €400,000 to plant 8,000 laurel trees, and thermophilic forest containing species resistant to fire, at the eight of the largest island farmlands on the north of Gran Canaria.

Each year, 2000 specimens are to be planted at these Farms; Osorio located in Teror, La Cazuela in Firgas, El Brezal in Santa Maria de Guía, Los Chorros, Los Tilos and Peñón in the municipality of Moya, and San José del Álamo and Montaña de San Gregorio in the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
These farmlands are within Forest Fire High Risk Areas (Known in Spanish as ZARI – Zonas de Alto Riesgo de Incendios), so the project also includes the clearing of 25 hectares of bush and brambles, each year, to clear away the potential vegetative fuel that accumulates in these areas.
The repopulation will fundamentally extend the laurel populations with fayas, paloblancos, laurels, aceviños and viñátigos, as well as thermophilic (fire-resistant) species including the endemic dragon trees, wild olive trees, junipers and palm trees, in San José del Álamo and Montaña de San Gregorio.
The project will include the technical environmental management to establish the annual schedule of clearing, which will be carried out before summer, which is, the time of greatest risk, and repopulation, which is carried out after the summer period to take advantage of the rains, as well as well as the monitoring of what has been planted, always in coordination with the Cabildo’s Environmental team.
The expense is to be distributed with the first €50,000 for 2021, slightly more than €100,000 for the annual budgets from 2022 to 2024, and another 50,000 for the first half of 2025.
This initiative is a further aspect of the Cabildo’s continued work in favour of biodiversity, that includes action such as the pioneering Life Nieblas Project (testing technology like innovative fog collectors, aiming to mitigate various impacts and effects caused by climate change in areas of southern Europe and outermost regions, through mimicking natural water collection systems), to repopulate more than 30 hectares, that were burned and are now at a high risk of desertification, with 20,000 laurel trees by 2024, in the Barranco de la Virgen and also contribute to the regeneration of aquifers, to recovery of the Doramas Forest, to produce a great green, humid fire-fighting shield for Gran Canaria.

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Coastal Authority file complaint for Tauro Beach environmental pollution from desalination outlet pipe buried under the sand, Anfi Group claim ignorance, the fences will stay up for now

Five years after the Tauro bay was closed officially to the public, due to a hastily green-lighted project to import sand from Western Sahara, as part of an Anfi Group tourism development, followed by a legal dispute with the company and the constructors of the artificial beach, Santana Cazorla; the Demarcation of Coasts of Las Palmas (coastal authority) say they have found a buried pipeline, under Tauro beach, that is pouring brine environmental pollution into the sand. This extremely concentrated seawater, a by-product of desalination, that causes detrimental environmental impacts due to its high salinity and the presence of various contaminants, is coming from a desalination plant that supplies Anfi Tauro, according to reports this morning in Spanish language daily La Provincia. An official complaint has been made to the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment to take action on the matter. The brief was apparently sent back on February 20.

The pipeline was located deep under the sand, about three meters deep, and right now a large sinkhole has been produced on the beach, due to the digging to check what is happening with this spillage. The head of Costas (coastal authority), Rafael López Orive, has explained that this forces the entire area to remain fenced off due to the danger it may pose were the beach to open. Additionally the environmental pollution caused from the brine, “spill is producing a suction effect, like a swamp, because it is making all the sand move a lot,” adds the head of the Demarcation.

Rafael Lopez Orive head of the Costas testifies in case against his predecessor  Image: ALEJANDRO RAMOS

The discovery occurred during bathymetric studies, to analyse coastal depths and sand depth commissioned by the Costas, were carried out by the Costera y Oceanographic Engineering company (Elittoral) to find out what the state of the beach is following the placement of sand, and to decide, precisely, whether it could finally be reopened to bathers. Tauro was originally a pebble beach, and in 2016 the Anfi group deposited some 70,000+ cubic meters of arid desert sand, extracted from the disputed territory of Western Sahara in exchange for the concession to exploit the business of hammocks, beach umbrellas and other businesses that were planned for the area.
That plan was annulled last month, having failed to provide the necessary paperwork, ironically including a vital report from the Costas that would have allowed the work to go ahead.  Several companies within the Santana Cazorla Group were also forced in to bankruptcy in a wholly separate legal action.
According to the data available to the Ministry for Ecological Transition, the brine comes from the Anfi group desalination plant, located near the beach, and as there is no outlet to take it out to sea, the environmental pollution spill remains in that same sand. The Ministry has contacted the company, who just so happen to also be the one that was granted the concession for the exploitation of beach services, despite this plan having been later annulled for not complying with the conditions of that authorisation. The Ministry report that Anfi has simply responded by saying that “they do not know anything” about this pipeline.
Environmental pollution lurks hidden under the pristine sands of Tauro Beach
This timeshare and tourism group said yesterday that they do not own the desalination plant and therefore “are not responsible for it.” They have limited themselves to simply declaring that the desalination plant belongs to a third party, and that all they have is a contract for the supply of water.
In spite of everything, the Costas, who are in the processing of transferring the responsibilities in this matter to the autonomous Executive, also made clear that this same brine pollution complaint made to the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment, takes note of a resolution dated October 18, 2007 from the Canary Islands Government Deputy Ministry of the Environment, declaring the expiration of a procedure initiated, at the request of the commercial entity Anfi Tauro SA, specifically for authorisation to pump sea water from the desalination plant using reverse osmosis.
At the same time, the Costas, whose intention is that the beach can be opened to the public once these issues are resolved, announced yesterday that they will proceed to remove the entire embankment and breakwater that Anfi Group and Santana Cazorla placed in front of the old packaging warehouses that are located on the beach, as this space was never part of the 12,000 meters agreed in the concession. Although there is likely to be serious fines issued by the Ministry of Coastal Demarcation,  Anfi indicated yesterday that “they are not going to remove the rubble” because they are awaiting a ruling on the contentious issues remaining, and what the courts dictate regarding the annulment of the concession and the actions that must follow.

Mogán mayor Bueno inspecting Tauro after the sands were laid
A detailed report on the state of the beach was sent yesterday by the Costas, by ordinary mail, to the Mogán Town Council, who were quick to support the project at the beginning of their administration in 2015, before distancing themselves from it claiming no responsibility whatsoever for the developments, and then subsequently expressing their desire to profit from the exploitation revenues from this beach, among others, will in any case now have to take care of security and surveillance from here on in, while this whole fiasco is resolved.

Executive director of the Canary Islands Natural Environment Protection Agency (ACPMN), Ángel Fariña has been silent
Journalists have tried to contact the executive director of the Canary Islands Natural Environment Protection Agency (ACPMN), Ángel Fariña, for his comments on the suspected environmental pollution and have so far not managed to get any response on matter, either from him or his department.

Bulo in Paradise: The Tauro Beach Saga

The Ballad of Tauro Beach:...Posted by The Canary News on Thursday, April 8, 2021

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The Canary News, Views & Sunshine - Est. 2009

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