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In the valley of Tirajana, in the village of Hoya Grande, my family has a farm where we usually spend the holidays as a family, all gathered and celebrating our bond.

A few years ago, my grandfather died, he was the creator of this farm, built up from the ground. Since then, the connection and attraction to the estate, the south and that side of my roots became much stronger. The estate is the most vivid memory we have of him and his legacy.

My grandfather was passionate about agriculture, he used to go up every weekend to take care of his land, even in his last years of life, he would go up there with some of his children, take the pruning shears and spend the whole morning taking care of the field. There were times, if no one was available to take him, he’d even take the local bus to be able to spend the day in his farm.

Among all these anecdotes, my family has a memory of my grandfather, in which for a long time, he tried to get rid of some eucalyptus trees that bordered with one of the terrains of the farm, he said that their roots spoiled the land. He was never able to get rid of them.

The Eucalyptus is not a native species of Gran Canaria, in fact, it was brought from Australia initially for medicinal purposes, then for reforestation purposes and finally, because of the tourism and construction boom (Marrero Rodríguez 2016). This species of trees is characterized by its rapid growth and straight trunks, however, this tree prevents or hinders the regeneration of native species while modifying the chemical and physical qualities of the soil, intensely altering the habitats they occupy (Suárez Rodríguez 2018).

Eucalyptus is one of the many species that have been introduced in the Canary Islands by human action, voluntary or involuntary. These species are considered invasive exotic plants (Suárez Rodríguez 2018).

The exotic flora, is established and extends along these natural environments, competing against the native flora, to see who has the best weapons to survive in that land, thus deteriorating the native flora.

All this foreign flora that has been introduced to the island, has profoundly changed the landscape of Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands, taking away space and resources from the native flora. The use that our insular community have given them has also favoured its expansion and the drastic transformation of the natural habitats in which these species are found and of the ecological processes that keep them alive.

We distinguish a series of main invasive exotic species in the south of the island; the Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus and E. camaldulensis), of which we have already spoken; the Common Reed (Arundo donax), forms impenetrable tapestries mainly in the valleys, almost completely absorbing the soil of the native flora; the Tunera Común (Opuntia maxima), this species has spread so much, that it's total erradication has been considered imposible (Suárez Rodríguez 2018); and finally, the Pitera (Agave americana), which competes for space against numerous threatened species, due to its high biomass and foliar structure. This last species has introduced itself in several protected natural areas, including National Parks (García Gallo, Wildpret de la Torre & Martín Rodríguez 2008).

‘Invasive alien species are today considered the second cause of biodiversity loss, after the direct destruction of natural habitats, causing a serious environmental, as well as economic and social impact.'

(García Gallo, Wildpret de la Torre & Martín Rodríguez 2008).

Our archipelago, is a hotspot of biodiversity, in it we are able to find a total of 1893 species of wild plants, being approximately 30% of them, endemic to the islands. This is due to its location in the Macaronesian region, its volcanic character, its proximity to Africa, its climate and its insularity.

Another 37% of this diversity consists of introduced and feral plant species. As we have already seen, the introduction of exotic species can considerably damage the ecosystem into which it is introduced.

It is crucial that we maintain and enhance the prevention and eradication efforts that the public entities of Gran Canaria and Spain, as these invasive alien species are transforming, degrading and homogenizing the landscape of our islands.

Islands that practically live on its image cannot afford to distort it.

Therefore, in this project, we will highlight this disfigurement and see how the invasive flora affects the landscape of Gran Canaria.





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