The Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar (CHJ) have been covering rivers in the Valencian Community with black plastic to eradicate invasive Spanish canes – but does it harm more than it helps?
The river authority that looks after wetlands in the Valencian region (CHJ) has seen ‘success’ with a controversial method of covering up riverbeds with black plastic sheeting.
The CHJ employed the technique for one year on a river in Villamarxant, near Valencia, saying in social media posts it was ‘sufficient time’ to rid the area of Spanish cane.
The canes (Arundo donax) are classified on Spain’s catalogue of invasive species – it is illegal to bring specimens to the Canary Islands.
The canes also create problems during flash floods – a storm in 2007 in Ondara saw the river Girona block bridges and canals.
The CHJ employ a technique called ‘solarisation’, laying plastic groundcover for the summer sun to incinerate cane roots.
According to the CHJ, temperatures can reach 70°C in the sun during summer months.
Solarisation is taking places on sections of the Gorgos and Girona in the Marina Alta region of Alicante.
Canes deemed a fire-hazard and flood-risk in the Girona river have been cut-down and covered near Ondara since January 2020
The CHJ says it replants solarised areas with common wetland plants – but on sections of the Girona river near Benichembla no replanting has taken place, according to a local activist.
Zoë Sylvia Coadwell told BayRadio the CHJ left bits of ‘plastic’ and metal staples lying around, while cañas were ‘shooting up’ from the barren soil.
Zoë has been raising awareness since watching storm Gloria wash plastic covering half of the riverbank into the sea.
“While the clean up now by the CHJ is welcomed, I am concerned by the lack of a knowledge of the pollution that has already taken place. In addition, the installation of more plastic continues in other areas within the region. Who knows how widespread this problem is?”
Canas regrowth as planting of native species, as per the original plan, has not taken place.
plastic between benichembla and alcalali no clean up exactly same a previously .. only bit cleared is bit really visible to the bridge .. 2nd phase of planting no evidence at all .. canas already look like they are shooting up.