The first phase of the Besòs river renaturation project with the biodiversity refuge promoted by the Santa Coloma de Gramenet City Council has concluded, experts confirm that the fauna has recolonized the river and the river park two decades after the environmental restoration that It has become a great green infrastructure.
One of the privileges of an ecosystem like the lower channel of the Besòs, is that the river is also a great educational tool. The biodiversity refuge built is an environmental eco-classroom set with a 400-meter mural that allows the identification of the species that repopulate the river thanks to the process of recovering flora and fauna.
"It still has to be a more resilient area," pointed out the mayoress of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Núria Parlon, hopeful with the new impetus that European funds and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) will allow to start the second and third phase, which they will replicate the environmental actions of the lower basin, up to the border with Montcada i Reixac. “A very ambitious project”, defined Ramon Torra, manager of the AMB, “which has allowed the river to return to its original functions”. The set of actions has a budget of seven million euros.
Getting the blauet (kingfisher) to nest in the Besòs is one of the immediate objectives of the Colomense town hall, which, like the gray heron, the mallard, the stilt or the common night heron, have already colonized the riverbed. The blauet is a showy species of the coraciformes order, characterized by its fast, rectilinear flight and its sharp and powerful call.
El Besòs is now a great showcase for bird lovers, who enjoy the large number of species in the two artificial lagoons created next to the biodiversity refuge and on the banks of the river, facilities that delight schoolchildren. "It's a spectacle to see so many birds flutter around and that you can recognize them thanks to the didactic material provided by the City Council," admits Javier Martínez, a retiree who walks the bridge with binoculars hoping "for observation points to open up." Other neighbors, like Octavio, lament that incivility can damage "all this preciousness" and ask the municipal government for "more vigilance, with the loose dogs that get into the river and chase the birds", a practice prohibited in a nature reserve .
On the banks of the Besòs, numerous groups of schoolchildren gather to participate in educational sessions. The youngsters exultedly commented on having observed a kingfisher submerging to capture an American red crab –an invasive species–, a catfish or a mountain barbel in the educational lagoon, which is also part of a research project in collaboration with the University of Barcelona.
A separate case deserves the amphibians and mammals, which have also returned to Besòs thanks to the quality of its waters. Thus, the nocturnal cameras have already been able to confirm the presence of otters, well hidden among the Asian reeds –an invasive plant species– that populate the margins and, given the scarcity of trees, serve as a refuge for fauna species. Special attention is paid to the preservation of eels, a critically endangered species that has begun to frequent the shallows, thanks to interventions for their migration, such as the removal of artificial barriers. The southern little frog, which had been considered extinct from Catalan rivers, has also returned to Besòs.