L’Olla del Rei: where nature makes its way in Castelldefels

  • This wet area of ​​a great ecological value, whose already iconic lagoon was created in 1998 in the then brand new Baix Llobregat Campus of the UPC, has become in just over 20 years a unique space in the region formed by lagoons, riparian forests and humid meadows

the environmentalist Ramon Sanahuja summarizes what has happened in the last 20 years in L’Olla del Rey in one sentence: “nature recovered what was hers”. Thus, almost like a miracle, in an area of ​​dunes -he crouches down and shows it taking the earth with his hand and letting it fall- a small group of orchids grow proudly, one of the (unknown) jewels of this key natural space for the biodiversity of Castelldefels. A wetland area of ​​great ecological value, whose lagoon was created in 1998 in the then brand-new Baix Llobregat Campus of the UPC and that quickly filled with plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

“The explosion of life has been brutal & rdquor ;, explains the activist, one of the most active members of the environmental and neighborhood platform Save the Pot of the King, which seeks to protect this area from riparian forests and interconnected lagoons, classified as Important Bird Area(IBA).

72 species

They say – ornithologists, this is not just gossip – that it is frequented by 72 species of birds, including 22 protected species such as the ‘blue’, platform icon. It is enough to walk around for a while to confirm that they are not exaggerating. Birdsong is easy to hear when the planes give up.

As soon as you start the walk through the riverside forest next to sanahuja, a rabbit crosses the scene, almost like in Alice and Wonderland. The activists are very clear about their objective: the modification ofthe PGM to shield the land and that they cease to be developable, preventing them from being built on now or ever. Their current battle is for the enclave to be declared ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds).

The first great victory of the group was precisely to prevent the construction of a large building that had already begun to be built: the expansion of the Institute of Photonic Sciences.

“We found out that they were going to build the machines when we lived here. There were about 50 people working, already. But we organized ourselves. We wrote emails in English to all the researchers at the center, where scientists of many nationalities work, explaining the ornithological values ​​of the space in which they intended to build and one day a good number of neighbors got together and occupied the works to denounce them. And, we don’t know how, but they took the machines and went back where they had come”, remembers Sanahuja with deserved epic.

In the place where they managed to stop the construction, the neighbors made a small raft with the intention of recovering the pippin frogs that they baptized as Bassa of the Pippin. A constructive way to celebrate your victory. On the sign they put up to signal it, a curiosity: “Did you know that the natterjack toad in extreme conditions can complete the metamorphosis in just 24 days?”.

The Castelldefels Town Hall asked in October 2018 to Doctor Joan Pino a report on the natural values ​​of wetlands that confirms everything defended by environmentalists. The enclave is a treasure (which the current climate crisis makes it more necessary to protect than ever). In addition to the birds, the Director of CREAF It also highlights the presence of “relevant plant species with roots in the water but aerial leaves” and the trees around the pond.

On the walk, the activist points out all the good things, which is a lot, and also the bad things (which they fight to change), such as the poor state of some areas “due to municipal negligence,” he stresses. They also go to the place young people to make bottles, as betrayed by broken glass, plastic bottles, bags of potatoes and empty tobacco boxes in one of the corners of the forest, which outrage environmentalists.

There’s also ruins for decades lying there, which greatly annoys the members of the platform, who regularly organize brigades to clean up the territory. “Once we carried all the waste collected to the town hall square and we set up an exhibition with them”, he recalls.

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Another of the platform battles is the fight against pond pollution in episodes of rain or breakdown. “Despite promises, sewage discharges continue to kill day after day. Wastewater discharges in L’Olla are an environmental crime and we demand responsibilities“, they underline in their manifesto.

From the Castelldefels City Council they point out that they are “in the phase of modifying the urban planning of the area, together with the competent institutions, such as Incasol and the General Directorate of Universities (Generalitat) and that they have created a Technical Commission for the development of the area, which follows the main guideline of preserve and protect L’Olla del Rei as a unique space, a job that is being done in collaboration with different professional associations”.

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