Once again, the Directorate-General of Natural Environment (Regional Ministry of Rural Affairs, Fisheries and Food of the Government of Cantabria) with collaboration from inmates from the El Dueso Penitentiary of the NACAR (Nature and Prison) programme, carried out a volunteer activity within the LIFE+ Arcos project at the Berria Beach dune system (Municipality of Santoña).
The activity was carried out by one Technician and two Forest Technicians from the Nature Conservation Service on 11 September 2015. They focused on restoring dune systems on the Cantabrian coast.
The day started with an introduction to the Natural Protected Area, and to the dynamic and biological communities of dune system ecosystems on the Cantabrian coast. We used an educational sign located at the entrance of the beach, next to the car park.
After that explanation, we moved towards the frontal dune on Berria beach to collect specimens of plants uprooted by the tide. Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum) bulbs were found and transplanted to areas devoid of vegetation later that day.
On the way back we walked inside the dune system and collected a small amount of fringed pink (Dianthus hyssopifolius) and Virginia stock (Matthiola sinuata) to plant in the El Dueso Penitentiary Gardening Workshop nursery centre. The plants will be used in future activities within the NACAR project. The seeds and some cuts of crossworts (Cruccianella maritima) were given to the El Dueso Penitentiary Gardening Workshop instructor so they can practice with these species.
During the entire walk, we extracted and collected 60 litres of different types of waste.
The last activity was to manually and carefully extract specimens of the entire existing population of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in the tertiary dune area of Berria beach to prevent its creeping rhizome from re-growth. We also extracted around 15 very young specimens of another invasive species, the Adam’s needle (Yucca gloriosa)—its roots were extracted with hand shovels. A few specimens of horseweed (Coniza canadensis) were also extracted. A total of approximately 40 litres of invasive plants were extracted.
We eradicated invasive plants in two areas. The first was around 738 m2, where the vast majority of the common ragweed population is located and where all the Adam’s needles extracted in the tertiary dune area are located. The second area, located in a secondary dune, was around 64 m2. Only common ragweed was extracted from the second area.
The areas where we eradicated invasive plants were marked off with tape and wood posts to clear the area better and to eliminate 100% of the existing individuals. Since we also extracted common ragweed in this area during an activity on 12 June, this time we found just a few, small plants. This means the area is currently quite under control.
We met the goals of this dune system habitat restoration and environmental awareness day. Inmates expressed interest in participating in future volunteer days.
When the day ended, the inmates and educators from El Dueso Penitentiary, two interns and the Technician from the Nature Conservation Service of the Government of Cantabria posed for a photo to commemorate the magnificent day they spent conserving dune systems.