Work has begun on eliminating the Baccharis halimifolia invasive plant and replanting work will be carried out in conjunction with Gipuzkoa Provincial Council during the winter.
After completion of the work on the Lea and Urdaibai estuaries, the Basque Government's Department for the Environment, Land Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries has embarked on the work to eliminate Baccharis halimifolia from the Bidasoa Islands (Irun). It is the last phase of the "Restoration of Habitats of Community Interest in Estuaries of the Basque Country" Life+ project started in 2010.
Baccharis halimifolia is considered to be one of the most dangerous invasive plants for estuaries and salt marshes. It was introduced as an ornamental plant and is currently to be found along the whole Basque coast. It is a laborious task to eliminate it, as each plant that can grow up to 4 metres has to be cut down and a herbicide then has to be applied using a brush to each stump. The fragility of the ecosystems where the work is being carried out requires strict safety measures to be taken for the environment and the workers.
The location and characteristics of the Bidasoa Islands further complicate the work of the operators. The group of workers and all the equipment have to be taken out to the islands by boat every day and the tide times are therefore a key factor. This plant can be found on all the dykes that surround the islands, which means there is an area of over 7 hectares to be cleared. It is calculated that it will take two months to complete this phase.
Once the Baccharis halimifolia has been cleared, the next stage will be the environmental recovery by means of planting native trees and shrubs from the Arizmendi nursery of the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council. All the species have already been gathered from the islands and other places in Gipuzkoa and are being cultivated at the Urnieta facilities.
Furthermore, the "Baccharis halimifolia: the Story of an Invasion” exhibition will be open to the public for two months at the Plaiaundi Eco-Park. The exhibition aims to provide information and raise awareness among the general public. The citizens will find information there on the provenance and characteristics of this invasive species, its impact on the coastal habitats and the objectives and actions of the Estuaries of the Basque Country Life+ Project.
The Estuaries of the Basque Country LIFE+ project is being run under the aegis of the Department for the Environment, Land Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government, as the coordinator beneficiary, and funded by the LIFE+ programme, the EU funding instrument for the European Commission. Ihobe, the Environmental Management Public Corporation, is involved in managing the project as an associate beneficiary.
31 July, 2012.