ORIHUELA’S Palmeral palm forest is the second-most important in Europe, after Elche’s.
Surprisingly, 3,000 of its 9,000 date palms are located on 30 privately-owned properties and only 40 per cent of the Palmeral, which has Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) status, is municipally-owned.
To ensure continued defence of the palm forest, city hall’s Environment department intends eventually to acquire these private plots and recover them for public use, Environment councillor Damaso Aparicio announced.
“Meanwhile we shall be exploring other avenues in our efforts to advance towards overall control,” the councillor said.
These include applying the Territory Protection clause included in Spain’s Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law, which also appears in Orihuela’s Date Palm bylaw.
This enables city hall to offer adequate maintenance when a property-owner is unable to provide this, the councillor said. Parallel to fines or situations where city hall takes action and then sends the bill to the owner, the local administration wished to collaborate “and not only oblige or sanction,” Aparicio stressed as he urged land-owners to take advantage of the offer.
City hall has already reached agreement with the owner of 30,777 square metres of abandoned land with 521 palm trees, the councillor revealed.