Forces of nature - trees ...
It was nature week in Majorca - and it wasn't positive. The major ongoing story was (and will be for some time, one suspects) the xylella fastidiosa bacteria affecting different types of trees. Last Sunday, it was reported that the spread of "olive ebola" was wider than had been thought. By Thursday, there was confirmation that cases had been detected in various parts of Majorca - from Alaro across to Sant Llorenç and south to Llucmajor. The environment and agriculture ministry announced that its policy will be one of containment - cutting down and incinerating trees found to be infected - rather than of elimination of all trees within a 100-metre radius, which is what the European Union calls for.
We learned that EU inspectors won't be coming to Majorca to check on the situation until June, which sounded somewhat odd, but at least the ministry was receiving political backing: all parties backed the containment policy.
... Wind, potatoes and fishermen ...
The high winds of last weekend caused a fair amount of damage. There were some 300 emergency incidents, many to do with fallen trees. An additional victim of the wind was the early potato crop in Sa Pobla that had survived the floods. The wind was such that farmers had to declare that the whole crop was ruined, setting their exports back by weeks. They are others who will have to wait for external visitors. Insurance assessors are so busy on the mainland, they haven't yet been able to get to Majorca.
The bad weather of December and January didn't affect only farmers. Fishermen also suffered. Losses of up to half a million euros were estimated to have been incurred. Trawlers were unable to go out for up to eight days, while fishermen had to stay in port for fifteen days. To make matters worse, the state of the sea was such that the seasonal jonquillo catch was limited.
... Torrents and debris
One reason why this catch was harmed was the amount of water that had entered the sea from the torrents. This led to a loss of salinity. And the action of the torrents was evident in a different way. In Soller, hoteliers were complaining about all the reed debris that had accumulated on beaches and which hadn't been cleaned up: it had been brought by the water from torrent. Soller's hoteliers weren't the first to have complained. Muro town hall had demanded that the environment ministry clean up its beaches because of debris dumped on them by the torrents.
Goat cull outrage
Unrelated to the weather was the case of the goat cull on the Galatzo finca in Calvia. This had been requested by the town hall and had been carried out by a foundation which falls under the environment and agriculture ministry. One hundred, "invasive" wild goats were shot, and the public was unaware of the fact until an opposition Partido Popular councillor raised the matter at a council meeting. The town hall defended the cull on biodiversity grounds, but PSOE in particular was accused of having violated a declaration in favour of animal welfare to which it was a party. Legal action is now being planned, a lawyer saying that there was a lack of transparency about the cull. There should have been a public notice of the proposal to have a cull, but there wasn't.
Holiday rentals, the continuing story
Away from matters of nature, the holiday rentals' story kept rumbling along. Registrations of rental accommodation (not apartments) doubled last year. This was thought to have been because of concerns about the upcoming legislation. Meanwhile, the national federation of municipalities and provinces, the current president of which is Palma's mayor, José Hila, called on the secretary of state for tourism to facilitate state-wide legislation. Not for the first time, though, the wider benefits of holiday rentals were being publicised - supermarket business is expected to grow by 20% this year because of holiday rentals.
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