Controlling ice plant on the Helgueras beach (Noja)
NACAR Programme (Nature and Prison) and volunteering within the LIFE ARCOS Project
On 21st November, a new volunteering day was held in association with the NACAR Programme (Nature and Prison) to eliminate invasive flora within the activities of the LIFE ARCOS Project, coordinated in Cantabria by the Directorate General of the Environment of the Government of Cantabria Natural Environmental, Fisheries and Food Department.
Work was carried out on the Helgueras beach dunes (Noja) with the participation of inmates and workers from the El Dueso Penitentiary Centre, support from the Cantabrian Rural Development Network team, technical staff from the Government of Cantabria Directorate General of the Environment, and logistical support from the Noja Council.
Before starting, participants took a short walk from the Berria beach (Santoña), across the El Brusco mountain towards the Helgueras beach. This route was the ideal introduction to the day, revealing how dune systems work and how important they are, giving participants a first-hand insight into the dune restoration actions carried out on the Berria and Helgueras beaches within the LIFE ARCOS Project, some performed in collaboration with the NACAR programme.
The main part of the activity consisted in eliminating various patches of ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) found on the Helgueras dune system, a demanding job given that it is a particularly complex species to remove. In just a few hours of work, around 1500 kg of ice plant were removed, taken off the beach by teams from the Noja Council to be managed by the Cantabrian Rural Development Network.
Despite their work mainly focusing on the ice plant, both during the route between the beaches and throughout their activities, participants also collected a large amount of non-biodegradable waste, mainly plastics.
Once again, we greatly appreciate the collaboration of all those involved in the NACAR programme for their work within the LIFE ARCOS European Project, which has already been the architect of numerous activities to support the conservation of Protected Natural Spaces. We should keep in mind that these activities are undertaken on the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park dune systems, also protected as Special Conservation Areas; SCA Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes; Special Protection Areas for Birds; SPAB Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes; and Ajo Estuary and the Santoña Marshes Wetlands of International Importance.
During the activity, participants were visited by representatives from the Noja Council environment department, who via the Councillor for the Environment, Health and Spatial Planning, and the Environmental Officer, wished to thank participants for the work undertaken in the pursuit of conserving the dune system.
Finally, and with the hope that this programme may continue, the Directorate General of the Environment thanked the people and bodies that participated in the activity for their collaboration and the chance to keep working and learning together.