¿Whose competence is the removal of the camalote?
There are competencies between the Junta de Extremadura and the Guadiana Hydrographic Confederation in the management and control of certain invasive exotic species, as the Autonomous Community has competences in the conservation of nature and the wild biodiversity and the Confederations, in order to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive, have competence in those invasive exotic species that may endanger the right ecological status of the waters.
¿How could the camalote reach the Guadiana basin? Why isn't it in other basins?
None of the hypotheses that exist are proven, but the one that seems most likely, since this has also been the most common cause of spread in other parts of the world, is that it has been deposited in the river after being used as an ornamental species in Gardening.
It should be noted that the success of the expansion of an invasive species depends on a number of factors, such as the number of specimens and frequency of introductions, the invasive capacity of the species and the degradation conditions in which the receiving ecosystem is located. Unfortunately in the case of the Guadiana, the conditions for it to reach the current state have been met.
Actually, it can be said that in Europe, the Guadiana is the only case in which this plant exists in the middle stretch of a river (not near mouth) and also with such an aggressive variety.
¿What technical equipment does the GHC have in the fight against the camalote?
In the management of The Camalote (and otherIESs) has been working, for more than 15 years, a multidisciplinary team highly specialized in the fight against invasive exotic species. This team of professionals includes both civil servants, labor and external companies and/or collaborators, among them we have engineers from mountains, forestry, agriculture and roads, canals and ports, biologists, environmental educators, as well as managers, administrative, topography assistants, pawns, machinists, mechanics, etc.
¿Have the recommendations given by UEX been followed?
In 2005 an agreement was created with UEX for the conduct of a series of studies on camalote biology and possible techniques of control and eradication of the species.
All these recommendations have been followed, the work currently being carried out is based on the development of these recommendations and have been complemented by other subsequent studies and contacts carried out at the international level.
¿Can herbicides be used? What about that herbicide of which there has been so much talk?
According to national legislation there is no registered and authorized herbicide for use in the aquatic environment, so they cannot be used in the fight against camalote in the waters of the Guadiana River. As for the famous herbicide patented by The UEX, it would be a product that is not yet marketed and which the university itself has already indicated is NOT SUITABLE for The Camalote.
¿Does it have health risks for people, is it true that it smells a lot and that it promotes the proliferation of pests?
The study of insects and vectors, that appear in those places where the decomposition and fermentation of plants is occurring, concluded that they do not pose a health risk beyond the normal inconveniences that they produce to people.
¿Why are the remains piled up on the margins?
An average of 2000 tonnes per day is currently being withdrawn and the management of the extracted material is complex. Currently we have chosen to accumulate them on the banks of the river for different reasons, both environmental (since there would be a risk of contamination to other areas), and legal (since special permits are needed to transport an ISS from one place to another), road safety, and economic.
¿Why are no biological methods used?
The introduction or management of other species can involve serious risks to the balance of ecosystems, since in many cases, the kind of control itself, which is introduced, has ended up acting as an invasive species, causing significant Environmental damage.
¿Are the different initiatives of individuals and companies addressed?
From the outset, the GHC’s technical teams have been studying possible solutions for pest control and eradication, countless tests have been carried out with all kinds of techniques and machinery and professionals from other countries with more experience have been contacted. In parallel with this entire investigation process, each and every one of the citizen and institutional proposals that come to this administration has been addressed.
¿What about seeds?
The seeds of the camalote are a problem of difficult solution, that is why each plant can produce about 8,000 seeds, and in the Guadiana the percentage of fruiting is very high because the environmental conditions are optimal for its reproduction.
In addition, the fact that a seed can remain “asleep” for up to 15 years at the bottom of the river, and during that time can germinate if favourable conditions occur.
¿Does the camalote have any utility?
So far, most pilot experiences developed have proved unfeasible, due to inconveniences such as:
The low volume-to-weight ratio of the plant (95% of it is water), the risk posed by the dispersion of material in the middle, the irregular arrangement of the plant throughout the year, the difficult accessibility to it and the low value of the products that they get.
So, although it can be used with little efficiency in other parts of the world, its use has no interest in the Guadiana basin.
¿What have the EUR 35 million been spent on? ¿Did it work?
The investment has been mainly aimed at the contracting of means for the control of this species, means that have allowed during these fourteen years the withdrawal of almost 900,000 tons of plant. Had it not intervened, the economic and environmental damage would have led to multimillion-dollar losses.
¿Why is the population not informed?
Since the arrival and detection as a pest of this species, the CHG has developed a series of measures and actions for society to know first hand everything related to it, using for it different means of communication such as the website press releases, social networks like Twitter and YouTube, creating the APP “INVASORAS DEL GUADIANA”, to inform and record the presence of IESs. In parallel with this, since 2005, outreach and awareness-raising actions have been carried out through an Environmental Education Programme.
¿Will the camalote ever end?
It is the main objective of the GHC, so it is worked daily to have it controlled and to be able to eliminate it. For this purpose, different lines of action have been put in place, such as the 2018-2019 Crash Plan in which 350 people, 32 boats and 20 extraction equipment are working. But its eradication depends on various conditions, such as environmental factors, reducing the burden of pollutants from agriculture in the middle irrigated area of Guadiana and having sufficient economic means.