the state of the Guadalhorce

Readers will know that I have been very critical of Medio Ambiente - the environmental people - on more than one occasion, and I shall continue to be so.

First, as visitors are aware, very little has been done in the past two years to manage the reserve to maintain a variety of habitats and that there is a continual progression and development of vegetation and any work done has been minimal. Basically, I think that the problem is that the brains (if any) in the office don't appear to understand that this occurs and nor do they understand the difference, which is not a subtle one, between management and maintenance.

I am sure that they will - and indeed have in reply to a critical article in the local newspaper Málaga Hoy- classify any work done as management.

The widening of the tracks with a cutter in September and the current replacement of new posts and fencing on the access from the beach to the laguna Grande and the removal of the old posts and blinds by the hides (you can see what they were like in mid September on the left here) with new, very well cemented posts which will stand up to winter gales and awaiting new sheeting as I write (right), will undoubtedly be classified by them as management, when to me it is maintenance, unless my knowledge of English has suffered a sudden decline.

For thse who are uncertain, let me explain. Here is a photo taken from the seawatch mirador, looking east. This is one of the principal breeding areas for Kentish Plovers along the Málaga coast (185 kms) and two years ago there were 50 pairs, last year 25, this year I doubt if there were 15 and probably less although Medio Ambiente claimed that there was no fall in numbers. Here is where management comes into play. Look at the photo inside the wire (click on it to enlarge) and you can see a vast qanity of small, very dead branches and lumps of wood and quite a lot of encroaching vegetation. Kentish Plovers like lots of open, sandy ground with little cover. Here there is too much cover which can and will harbour rodents and reptiles (both snakes and ocellated lizards) which will happily predate a clutch of eggs, chicks and even a sitting female before devouring the rest. Good management would indicate a large scale vegetation and dead wood clearance. This process could be easly carried out at two other sites within the reserve and is called - wait for it - management!

It remains to be seen what, if anything, they intend to do about snail collectors and hordes of cyclists, none of the latter appearing to know what a bell is to warn of their presence even though some means of warning pedestrians of their presence is a legal requirement. If any of you ever do get hit by a cyclist, get details and denounce to the police - preferably Guardia Civil Seprona on 062 - along with a medical report on the damage to yourself from an Andalucian Health Service (Servicio Andaluz de Salud) clinic. As there are no signs warning cyclists and no effort to control the speeds, a lawyer friend informs me that Medio Ambiente would have subsidiary responsibility for lack of signalling.

What the reserve sorely needs is habitat management and back in the spring I wrote a six page letter to the then provincial director of Medio Ambiente in Málaga, señora Remedios Martel Gómez, and got no reply, which was no surprise. I tried again in September as a result of no reply, copying my previous letter to the new provincial director, señor Francisco Fernández España, and copied everything to Sevilla to the general director señora Rocio Espinosa de la Torre.

To date, one month later, there are no replies, but that simply reflects the arrogance and ill-manners of the administration (and not just Spanish but also British, French, German and so on) who forget that they work for and are accountable to you and me, the tax-payers, and that they are not untouchable. I shall possibly be asking for your cooperation in the course of time.

My Spanish blog will be getting the letters put up in the next two weeks and when I have the time I shall translate the basic points and put them in another Englsh blog and invite you to cooperate and write with your complaints. Please post any relatively civilised comments to the blog, not to me personally, in order that all may see. I shall not post comments saying that Torquemada should be brought back and all this lot should be put up against a wall and receive fast moving lumps of lead.

Am I p******d off? Yes, I b****y well am!

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