Last volunteering day of the year

11 December 2016

This morning eight people came to the spot of Chelo to participate in the last volunteering day of the year. The objective was to eradicate the small-leaf spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) from the recreational area surroundings.

Photograph of the volunteersThe strength of this invasive exotic plant is its fragility. When uprooted, it easily breaks, which makes difficult its removal. Moreover, any small piece left can take root and recolonize the area. So, you have to be very methodical in its elimination and constant in the subsequent supervision of the area.

The volunteers filled a large sack with the foliage (approximately 1 m3). On top of that, they uprooted hydrangeas (Hydrangea sp.), since it is a species original from the Far East, and two sprouts of blackwood acacia (Acacia melanoxylon) which were already reaching a good size.

After having eliminated other four invasive species, next year we expect to be able to eradicate every exotic species on the banks of the River Mandeo, between the Chelo footbridge and the Teixeiro Bridge (obviously, except eucalyptus, since we would need the improbable permission of numerous owners).

This way we will be able to improve the habitat of a river section which, despite being very frequented by locals and visitors, holds endangered animals and plants on its riverbanks, such as the beetle Carabus galicianus, the narcissus Narcissus asturiensis, and in the water molluscs such as freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) or fish such as Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

Land stewardship before the Public Administration

18 November 2016

Invited by the AGCT (Land Stewardship Galician Association) and the Diputación de Lugo (Provincial Council of Lugo), we have taken part in the conference Land Stewardship and Public Administrations that took place at the Terras do Miño Interpretation Centre (Lugo) today.

During our intervention we have had the opportunity to present the project of Do Catorce amphibian reserve. The organizers were very interested in our explanations to a public mainly composed by Administration technical officers, about what the land stewardship agreement we signed with the Coirós Municipality is, how it binds both entities, and the potential of the direct implication of entities like ours in the use and management of natural areas.

The aim of the organizers was to bring knowledge about land stewardship practice to technical officers, civil servants and politicians who manage land belonging to public administrations and areas within fluvial and maritime-terrestrial public domains. Accordingly, they prepared an extensive program, which has had the intervention of Antonio Ruíz (FRECT), Marc Ordeix (Museu del Ter), Martiño Cabana (AGCT) and Ramsés Pérez (ADEGA). We hope that this outreach work eases the collaboration of the different Administrations with land stewardship entities.

Donation of a wood plot in Chelo

16 November 2016

This afternoon we signed the donation deed of a wood plot of 3,050 m2 bordering the River Mandeo. Ms. Maruxa López and her son Mr. Luisco Monteiro kindly ceded it to Fragas do Mandeo with the aim of preserving its natural values in perpetuity.

Photograph of the donorThis plot is near the spot of Chelo (Coirós), in a very accessible place. Located on a steep slope, the bottom forms part of the protected natural heritage site SAC Betanzos-Mandeo, and holds a riparian wood that is considered priority habitat. On the rest, the deciduous trees make up a slope wood frequented by local fauna, as evidenced by the numerous trails crossing it.

Fragas do Mandeo is deeply grateful to Ms. Maruxa and Mr. Luisco for this donation. Besides the intrinsic environmental value of this wood, this is the second donation we receive since our incorporation. We hope their gesture becomes an example and encourages other people to cede us plots that have a minor yield as logging exploitations.

Photograph of the wood plotDonating to Fragas do Mandeo has two advantages. First and most important, the satisfaction of actively engaging in the conservation of our region’s nature, with guaranteed perpetuity. Second, the tax benefits: a deduction up to 30% of the donated value in the income tax of individuals (in case of companies, 35% of the corporate income tax).

If you are also thinking about the possibility of supporting our biodiversity, you can find information in section Join us! or else contact us directly (in section Contact you will find the necessary information).

Remembering Luís Muíño

14 November 2016

Today we received the sad news of the passing away of Luís Muíño.

In the few times we saw him, Luís proved to be a discreet person, a character that matched his condition as a notary. Less conventional for his profession was his love for nature. In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to see his office decorated with flora and fauna photographs taken with his own camera.

In Fragas do Mandeo we are very grateful for his kind support just when it was most needed, at the time of the incorporation and starting up, when we were unknown and lacked resources. We send our warmest regards to his family and close friends.

A day in Ollo da Roda

22 October 2016

Although there was high participation in the previous volunteering day, only five people turned up at Ollo da Roda today. Certainly the weather’s threatening aspect was discouraging, but the truth is that the forecasts of no rains during the whole morning came true.

On one of the plots where we do land stewardship, there are several big eucalyptus trees in the middle of the native forest. Before eliminating them, we had to clear a bramble patch that would make the task difficult. One month ago, thanks to the kindness of the Distrito Forestal II, a tractor driver cleared the scrub, uncovering a pile of litter that had been hidden by the bramble. We had to remove this litter before cutting down the eucalyptus, or else they would stay buried under the felling left-overs.

Although there were only few volunteers, they managed to complete the work, filling a whole trailer with the litter they had removed. They even had spare time for drying new shoots of eucalyptus in other of the plots in which we do land stewardship. All that is left now is the logger to free the wood from those eucalyptus trees.

First phase of the amphibian reserve completed

12 October 2016

This morning, 25 people have been at Do Catorce amphibian reserve: the oldest volunteer is in his sixties and the youngest is… 18 months old! The objective was to finish the first phase of actions at the reserve. They managed it.

Despite the difficulty to organize the work for such a large and diverse group, everyone was able to find a task that he/she could deal with. Eucalyptus were cut down with a chainsaw and with Pulaski axes, trunks and foliage were piled up, litter was removed and taken to the waste disposal point, some bramble was cut, the biomass of a recovered pond was raked up, and gorse and sticks that obstructed the paths were uprooted and removed. Participants ended equally tired and happy with the work done.

So, after 99 days from the signature of the land stewardship agreement with the Coirós Council, with the help of 61 volunteers, who dedicated a total of 384 hours, plus one working day of a tractor driver thanks to the courtesy of Distrito Forestal II, the habitat improvements planned for the wet area are completed, just when the autumn rains are about to come.

Now it’s time for the second phase. We have to look for external funding to be able to hire professionals to cut down the eucalyptus that grow on the quarry walls by means of climbing procedures, to remove and process the roofs with contaminating asbestos, to fence off the abrupt slopes to prevent visitors from falling off by accident, to create information panels and to reform a couple of abandoned buildings, one of them for visitors to shelter in bad weather and the other as a shelter for bats and nocturnal birds.

Progress in the Do Catorce amphibian reserve

2 October 2016

This morning six volunteers were working hard at the reserve. They carried big stones to the border of one of the pools, so that they reinforced the water retention barrier and they improved the habitat conditions, since the stones can provide shelter for amphibians.

It’s been almost three months since the signature of the land stewardship agreement that allowed us to preserve this enclave, and the improvements are already remarkable: we created four new pools, we increased the size of another and we restored two that were filled, removing the excess of vegetation. During this time we also eliminated eucalyptus and invasive exotic vegetation, we piled up the foliage left out after the last felling, we removed litter, we cleared the excessive scrub and we cleared the paths of the vegetation that was blocking the way.

Only small actions are missing to complete the first phase of action. The haste to finish it is imperative because of the proximity of the autumn rains, that will flood all the wet area and will attract amphibians again, which would make difficult the tasks for the habitat improvement.

Anyone who has known the state of this enclave before the agreement will welcome the metamorphosis. For this we must thank 56 volunteers, who dedicated 304 hours of their leisure time, and to Distrito Forestal II, who lent us a tractor driver for one working day.

Biology students working at the reserve

15 September 2016

In spite of the threat of rain, 11 members of the Asociación Estudiantil Bota e Bata (Boot and Lab Coat Students Association) of the University of Santiago de Compostela, accompanied by two volunteers of Fragas do Mandeo, got to the Do Catorce amphibian reserve to work.

Before getting on with the job, these Biology students could see the progress of the first phase of improvement of the reserve habitat. After a long draught, it started to rain hard this week, so the pools are already flooded, both those that were just dug out and those restored because they were filled. So, we were able to verify that our intervention, for which we had the help of personnel and machinery of the Distrito Forestal II, has had the expected outcome.

Afterwards, the volunteers went on to uproot the excessive amount of bulrush that was completely taking up one of the pools, they dried up eucalyptus, they piled up sticks and removed the litter left visible after the clearing of scrub.

This day of environmental volunteering gave these future biologists the opportunity to know a practical case of environmental restoration of a degraded area, which requires weighting numerous parameters to reach success. They left happy with the experience and we are thankful for their collaboration.

The 5th Week of Land Stewardship is coming up already

6 September 2016

We are only a few days away from the fifth conference Week of Land Stewardship of As Mariñas, A Coruña and the River Mandeo Area. Everything is scheduled and ready to start on Saturday 17th.

This year’s program focuses on the recovery of natural areas, a task which needs combining a detailed knowledge of the areas of intervention with a deep knowledge of the currently available techniques. For this reason, these conference talks will be specifically devoted to this issue, and will be divided into two parts. The first will deal with the case of the woods that, having a naturalized aspect, can be greatly conditioned by their past. The second part will focus on the recovery possibilities of degraded areas, taking the opportunity to use as an example a nearby case: the progress in the creation of the Do Catorce amphibian reserve.

Image of the program of the 5th Week of Land Stewardship in As Mariñas of A Coruña and the River Mandeo AreaAs in previous editions, the environmental volunteering days will be centered on two types of action: the elimination of invasive exotic species and the removal of plastic waste along the coast and rivers of the area. The invasive plants are considered the second most important cause of biodiversity loss worldwide, according to the IUCN. On the other hand, the plastification of the sea causes the death of one million sea birds and one hundred thousand turtles and marine mammals every year. Although the planned actions are humble interventions in face of the seriousness of these problems, by taking local action we will be contributing our grain of sand to solve these two serious global problems.

Once again, the Week is being organized jointly by Association for Rural Development Mariñas-Betanzos and Fragas do Mandeo (ARDMB). Funding is fully provided by ARDMB, since we earmark 100% of the donations received for purchasing woodland plots of environmental interest, and therefore we do not have the economic means to fund this kind of events.

Please, download the program, the poster of the eco-regatta to share them among your personal circle and social networks, so that you help everyone interested to have the opportunity to participate.

To register for the activities, please contact the organization by phone 981 669 541 or send an e-mail to This way you will be covered for accident insurance and you will receive detailed instructions in advance.

Eco-regatta on the Betanzos estuary: The litter picked up from the marshland last year filled two industrial containers, making a total volume of 16 m3. Shall we reach that record this year? Let’s try, that is why we encourage every citizen to participate in this fun race, in which the rivalry will be for taking care of the estuary. The participants on the boats, supported by their teams on land, will strive to collect the biggest quantity and the oddest piece of garbage. The start and finish line will be in the port of Betanzos, where there will be some food, drinks, music and children’s activities. The collaborating entities are Amigos dos Ríos de Betanzos, Ría del Pedrido Association, Lar de Unta, Roxín Roxal and Casa Castillo Betanzos. Also collaborating are the Betanzos Council, Civil Protection, Casa Vidal restaurant and Comercial Vicente de la Fuente. Please contact us if you feel like participating, even if you don’t have a boat. Additional information can be found on the informative sheet.
Date: September 17th, from 4 to 8.30 p.m.
Place: Port of Betanzos.

Volunteering in Ponte do Porco: The second environmental volunteering day will focus on the elimination of invasive exotic flora which is threatening the biodiversity of the Alameda Beach. As usual, we are going remove all the litter we can. During the last five years we uprooted the ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), the Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), the golden buttons (Cotula coronopifolia) and the Canadian horseweed (Conyza canadensis). Apart from checking if any of these has reappeared, this year we will attack other invasive plants: the montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora), the annual saltmarsh aster (Aster squamatus) and the tall flatsedge (Cyperus eragrostis). As in previous occasions, we have the collaboration of the Miño Council. Please contact us in advance if you would like to participate. More information is found on the informative sheet.
Date: September 18th, from 9.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Place: Alameda Beach (Ponte do Porco, Miño).

Day on the recovery of natural areas: The main event of the Week is a group of talks titled Recovering natural areas through land stewardship. After the opening by the Mayor of Betanzos, Mr. Ramón García, and the President of the Association for Rural Development Mariñas-Betanzos, Mr. José Antonio Santiso, we will make a brief overview of the achievements of Fragas do Mandeo after six years of existence, throughout which we have worked hard on the recovery of our native woods.

Image of the poster of the 3rd Eco-regatta Ría de BetanzosThe first group of talks will deal with native forests and riparian woods. The first one will be given by Dr. José Guitián, researcher and permanent professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, who is going to explain the relationship of mutual dependence between native trees and fruitarian birds. Later on, Dr. Javier Amigo and Dr. Manuel Antonio Rodríguez Guitián, also researchers and professors of that University, will intervene. As experts on the local flora (they have just published a guide of the vegetation on the River Mandeo basin), they will explain the composition of our woods and how much it differs from what would be a totally natural estate. The second group of talks will start after the mid-morning break. Dr. Serafín González, researcher of the CSIC and president of the SGHN (Natural History Galician Society), will inform us on several cases of restoration of degraded habitats, both through natural causes and as a result of industrial activities. Finally, Mr. Juan Neira, secretary of the board of trustees of Fragas do Mandeo, will present a nearby example of recovery of a degraded area: the creation of the Do Catorce amphibian reserve, which we have undertaken only two months ago.
Date: September 24th, from 9.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Place: Blue Room at the Betanzos Liceo.

Simultaneous cleaning of rivers: For the fourth time we will be at the River Mendo to participate in the ninth simultaneous cleaning of Galician rivers coordinated by Proxecto Ríos. Although this year was postponed because of the elections, we have kept the initial date for organizational reasons. Last year 691 people belonging to 54 organizations, got together with us to collect more than 13 tons of garbage in 47 rivers. We will distribute the river stretches according to the number of registered people, with the aim of collecting all the garbage we can find between As Moas bridge and Taibo bridge. It is an 8 km-long beautiful route, a large stretch of it forming part of the protected natural heritage site SAC Betanzos-Mandeo. The path is not hard-going, but it is advisable to wear footwear and clothes suitable for walking in the woods, and to take gloves and a walking stick too. The Coirós Council will cooperate managing the transport and processing of all the litter we collect. We will go on in the afternoon collecting garbage from boats along the navigable stretch of the River Mandeo, with the collaboration of Amigos dos Ríos de Betanzos. Please contact us in advance in case you would like to participate. Additional information can be found in the informative sheet.
Date: September 25th, from 9.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Place: The meeting point will be the Outpatient Clinic of Betanzos.

The Week of Land Stewardship is more than just a local cultural event. Its aim is to provide an occasion for people concerned about the natural heritage of our area to act in a direct, effective and coordinated way for its conservation.

It’s time to act for our natural heritage: Do join us!

Photograph of volunteers in Alameda beach

Second day at the amphibian reserve

29 August 2016

Next Sunday, September 4th, we will go back to work at Do Catorce amphibian reserve (Coirós), for which a new volunteering day has been set.

The aim is to go on with the tasks started on August 20th, while the autumn rains do not come. There is no need to remove litter, since it has already been done, but there are some invasive plants to be eradicated, some foliage to be piled up and many eucalyptus trees to be cut down and dried. If the number of volunteers is similar to the previous day, we think that we will be able to complete the first phase of actions scheduled for the wet area.

Photograph of the volunteersAs usual, the meeting point will be at the Outpatient Clinic of Betanzos, where we will meet at 9.30 a.m. to share cars, and we plan to come back at 2 p.m. There may not be enough tools for everybody, so try to take an axe or a sickle. It is also advisable to take leather gloves and wear clothes and shoes suitable to work on the woods, and something to eat and drink for the midmorning break.

If you want to register for this day, please send us your data in advance (complete name, ID, birth date and mobile phone number) by e-mail (you can find our address in section Contact), saying if we must wait for you at the meeting point or if you are going directly. Thus, you will be covered by an accident insurance policy and you will be informed on last minute changes; moreover you will facilitate organization.

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