In recent weeks, the indiscriminate felling of trees in Orihuela’s palm grove, the second largest in Europe, has caused the astonishment and indignation of many residents. However, the images of stumps and trunks piled up in several municipal plots, is in respect of a minor contract for the felling of no less than one hundred municipally owned palm trees.

The order is signed by the Environment al Department and, dates back to March 20, when the previous PSOE-Ciudadanos coalition was still at the helm.

In its technical report, the council writes of the need to carry out the felling of these 100 palm trees, explaining that, “due to structural failures that pose a risk to people and property, as well as those that are seriously affected by a pest or disease.”

The total work amounts to 17,847 euros, or about 147.50 euros per palm tree. This includes felling, chopping, collection, transportation and disposal to an authorised transfer plant, extraction of the stump and its roots and compaction with the addition of soil, as well as the treatment of the remains and adjacent specimens.

The current government emphasises that these actions are necessary to control the spread of pests such as the weevil, an insect that also proliferates in privately owned Palmeral plots and whose owners, however, ignore municipal warnings to keep their land tidy.

The loss of palm trees has been a recurring problem, especially since the appearance of the weevil. In the 2020 catalogue giving details of the Palm Grove Master Plan, there were 8,973 palm trees registered, of which 6,044 were municipal. In the 1960s the area was home to some 30,000 palm trees, that is, in sixty years a loss of about two-thirds of its specimens.

Currently the City Council has a nursery to make up for these losses, although the palm trees that are replaced are younger and do not have as much value, height or age as those that are lost.