Given the situations and scenarios described, the Department of Environment of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria had three options:
refrain from intervening in any way, and let the ecosystem continue to degrade
close the beaches and the Nature Reserve completely to the public
proceed to the environmental rehabilitation of the dune system and the Nature Reserve
The first of the options was discarded since the Department has a legal mandate for managing said ecosystem, both as a Nature Reserve and a Special Conservation Area (Natura 2000).
On the other hand, this ecosystem is the base of a powerful tourist industry that has been operating year-round for half a century. This means that it is an important niche for employment (social effect) and wealth (economic effect), which led us to discard the second of the alternatives, that of closing the beach and the Reserve, since these benefits would cease, aside from the administrative social and political problems that would be generated.
In any of the previous cases, the relief to the degradation process would very limited and would not provide solutions to the loss of sand.
Finally, the third option was chosen, that of proceeding with environmental rehabilitation through the drafting, agreement, processing, financing and execution of the MASDUNAS project.
The actions thus projected focus mainly on two fundamental aspects:
1. Stop the sand loss process of the dune system, by:
a. restocking of sand from Punta de la Bajeta to Playa del Inglés, contributing more than 60,000 m3 of sand from dredging in an emerged area of Punta de la Bajeta, with setback up to a maximum defined by the 1995 beach profile. The extracted sand is relocated to the dry beach area of Playa del Inglés, so that it is transported naturally by the wind to the coastal dune, characterized by the presence of balancones halophyte shrub pecimens (Traganum moquinii).
b. installing sand collectors with a design adapted to arid conditions and reintroduction of balancones specimens to favor the formation of dunes and regulate the advance of the sand towards the interior. Planting loose balancones specimens as well as associated plant types with different models of sand catchers in different plots of the Playa del Inglés beach, in order to objectively determine the best and most efficient solution for the environmental restoration of the dunes of Maspalomas
c. scientific monitoring to ensure the correct assessment of the measures implemented; evolution of the restocked sand and evaluation of the capacity of the different sand collectors and the balancones to create dunes and regulate the transport of sand inland
2. Improve the environmental quality of the dune system in order to recover its biodiversity and improve the management of the Reserve's public use, including the following actions:
a. restocking of balancones, introducing specimens obtained from germination or cuttings both from the northern area of Playa del Inglés and in the interdune troughs of Cañada de la Penca. The balancones stands are fenced off to prevent trampling and are watered during the first 9 months.
b.improvements in biodiversity, reducing the presence of exotic species, mainly plants, that are displacing the native biota. Improvements in floristic biodiversity consist of the elimination of species by means of approved methods that avoid their dispersion and possible sprouting, acting fundamentally on:
crimson fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum)
castor bean (Ricinus communis)
sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana)
prickly pear (Opuntia dillenii)
tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)
short-leaf bush (Maireana brevifolia)
shoreline purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum)
broadleaved pepper tree (Schinus terebenthifolius)
c.elimination of wooden and rock shelters located in the Reserve, both in the restricted use zone and in the exclusion zone. Since these shelters are usually built with dry branches extracted from the shrubs (Tamarix canariensis) of the Reserve, they represent, in addition to a distorting element of the landscape, a serious risk of fire.
d.Re-signaling/marking of trails – combining a responsible public use of the system with its conservation – acting on the 8 km of trails that pass through the Reserve, with more than 1,500 vertical bollards and information signs, especially around the exclusion zone to avoid deterioration of the site due to lack of knowledge of the rules.
In any case, in addition to these actions, it is necessary to raise awareness among the population and users about the Reserve and neighboring beaches to raise awarenss on the serious disturbance caused due to failure to observe the rules of use of the different zones in such a fragile ecosystem area, so as to avoid environmental degradation and to preserve and improve the dune system and the Maspalomas Nature Reserve.