Rivers that have lost all life

Rivers that have lost all life

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GOB has sent a written protest to the Minister of the Environment of the Balearic Government concerning the way in which work is being carried out to ensure the circulation of water along the riverbeds of Menorca. To the enormous destruction of biodiversity must be added a very large loss of fertile land, achieved in direct contravention of current regulations.

The latest activities carried out in Ferreries and Alaior show, as has happened on previous occasions, a complete loss of the internal vegetation of the riverbed canals, of the associated animal life, as well as almost all the vegetation along the banks.

The argument is generally lost by simplistic reduction that considers the riverbeds only as water channels clogged up with vegetation. That is not the issue under discussion. The riverbeds ought to allow the circulation of water. These are areas that host valuable fauna and flora, many of which are clearly protected.

The current regulations state that, generally, riverbank vegetation should not be affected and the use of machinery on riverbeds must be limited. In Menorca, the normal practice of the Department of Water Resources, the organisation responsible for making or authorising activities, continues to put excavators on the riverbeds, destroying all existing natural life. The photographs show this very clearly.

There are acceptable alternatives. The central passageway of the riverbeds could be left free, so as not to lose the fauna and flora communities that grow along the riverbanks. There should be minimal cutting back of the vegetation growing along the sides, to allow for machinery access.

There are two main purposes for leaving this vegetation. First, it supports the wildlife. In the Menorcan rivers are water turtles, eels, birds and a great deal of other fauna making use of these areas which, in Menorca, are regarded as linear wetlands. Second, vegetation is very important in order to hold the fertile soil on the banks. Soil loss is much greater without it.

GOB has asked the Balearic Minister of Environment not to have Water Resources recognised as a separate department since their activities do not take into account any of the expected sustainability criteria. They have little environmental sensitivity and are hardly deserving of being part of a ministry that should work to make human activities compatible with environmental conservation.