Once again, the Directorate General of the Environment (Rural Affairs, Fisheries and Food Department of the Government of Cantabria) with the collaboration of inmates from the El Dueso Penitentiary Centre as part of the NACAR Programme (Nature and Prison), carried out a volunteering activity encompassed within the LIFE+ ARCOS programme on the Berria beach dune system (municipality of Santoña).
The activity carried out on 20th November 2015 led by an Expert from the Nature Conservation Service and a Forestry Expert from the same Service, focused on restoring the dune systems along the Cantabrian coast.
The day began with an introduction to the Natural Protected Space, in which participants were given an explanation of the dynamic of the dune systems, the importance of preserving native plant life in these ecosystems, and the significance of fighting against invasive species
Next, participants walked along the front of the existing dune system on Berria beach collecting rubbish, filling a 120-litre bin bag. During the walk along the dune front, numerous sea daffodil bulbs (Pancratium maritimum) were collected, which were found displaced, and inside the dune system seeds were collected from the same species, from carnations (Dianthus hyssopifolius), toadflax (Linaria supina subsp. maritima) and crosswort cuttings (Crucianella maritima) to be moved (bulbs, seeds and cuttings) to the nursery Gardening Workshop at the El Dueso Penitentiary Centre, where they will be nurtured in view of future activities within the NACAR Programme.
The major part of the day’s activity focused on removing the invasive Adam’s needle plant (Yucca gloriosa) manually using spades and trowels, resulting in the removal of six 120-litre bags full. In 2010, the Berria beach dune system had numerous adult flowering Yucca specimens that were removed, and with this activity they are being controlled and practically eliminated from the dunes. This activity took place in an area inside the dune system in the middle zone, spanning from the Juan de la Cosa Hotel to the El Brusco hill.
Some of the volunteers had previously carried out dune restoration work on the Berria beach with the Directorate General of the Environment, and they remembered some of the native dune species, the invasive species and the restoration tasks they had carried out on previous occasions. Specifically, the areas replanted with sea daffodil bulbs collected in March 2015 and transplanted back into the dune system were particularly visible.
At the end of the day and as a keepsake, the inmates along with the instructors from the El Dueso Penitentiary Centre, a trainee and the Expert from the Nature Conservation Service from the Government of Cantabria, posed for a photo to leave a record of the hard work that they had all done to conserve the dune systems.