TrailGazers heads to La Palma

TrailGazers: the first face-to-face steering committee meeting of the project since 2019 takes place on La Palma.

The Dirección General de Lucha contra el Cambio Climático y Medio Ambiente, of the Gobierno de Canarias prepared a memorable meeting with workshops and field trips.

Trailgazers team in La Palma recently. Pictured far left is Michael Carty, representing Sligo County Council.

After more than two years of online meetings, the project partners were finally able to meet again. This time, moreover, in a place that deserved the support of a European project such as TrailGazers. Last September, La Palma appeared on television screens all over the world due to the eruption of a volcano in the middle of the island. The support and work carried out by the General Directorate of the Government of the Canary Islands in this TrailGazers project is one more granite in the mountain of work that has been carried out in this area since then.

The National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente, the Town Hall of El Paso, the SMEs of the area that participated in the B2C strategy and the different people that have been part of the Ambassadors Programme, made possible an unforgettable stay and managed to transmit to the team with sensitivity the values of the territory and its people, and the urgency of the situation after the eruption.

Meetings and La Caldera

On Tuesday 2 May, the usual meeting to present the results of the project was held. Having postponed the March meeting until it could be held in person, there were several novelties to be presented, and the partners presented them. Some of the main ones, the finalisation of the surveys that will allow the analysis of the economic return of the trails and the presentation of the flora and fauna foldouts of the different project areas, among others.

Afterwards, the team went to visit the pilot trail of the project, the Los Brecitos-Zona de Acampada-Barranco de las Angustias route, in La Caldera de Taburiente National Park, accompanied by a guide from the Park. A trail that starts at the viewpoint that bears its name, continues towards the bottom of La Caldera until it reaches Roque Idafe, continues to Dos Aguas, and finally ends at the famous Barranco de las Angustias.

Launch of the Lost Stories app and the workshop

The next day, after a review of the status of the pending actions until September, the end of the project, a workshop was prepared and the people from La Palma participating in TrailGazers were invited.

Authorities from the Town Council of El Paso, the Cabildo of La Palma, as well as from the Heredamiento de las Haciendas de Argual and Tazacorte, spoke about the management of the volcanic eruption, its consequences and the potentialities that exist around the volcano as a geological and touristic resource; thus allowing to turn the volcanic eruption into a learning experience shared with the attendees.

In turn, the University of Algarve launched the Lost Stories app, developed within the framework of TrailGazers, for the enhancement of the points of interest and intangible heritage of the trails. It is a free application that allows the visitor to discover the secrets of the route with a mobile phone and, since many of these sites do not have internet connection, it can be downloaded beforehand for offline browsing:  

Field trips

Such a long-awaited meeting had to be taken advantage of. The TrailGazers team was taken to La Cumbrecita, south of La Caldera, to discover the Salto del Pastor, a unique activity in the Canary Islands that consists of moving through complicated terrain with the support of a spear. Traditionally, this technique was used for shepherding in steep areas and uneven terrain, characteristic of the Canary Islands.

The activities also included a visit to the -new- volcano, a guided tour that requires a special permit and will be open to the public who are interested in seeing it. The team also explored the famous salt mines of Fuencaliente, which provide local sea salt to the whole island, and visited the Llanos de Aridane and the Ermita de la Virgen del Pino, where the oldest Canary Island pine tree in the world has been found, with more than 800 years.

Finally (although the activity took place on the first evening), the members learned first hand why the sky of La Palma is protected. With a professional telescope and the help of one of the participating companies of the B2C, the members could see the moon 200 times bigger than it is visible on Earth, new stars, stars that might already be extinct, constellations and even the Andromeda and Sombrero Galaxies.

Thank you team. La Palma is totally worth it.