The central Ministry of the Environment wanted to create a new 500 ha natural park for the massively endangered local tortuga mora, but Cuevas townhall appealed and local farmers who looked set to lose land objected viciously to the plans.
Some 130 landowners would have lost land under the plan, but the Ministry originally said that the land was unproductive and unsuitable to farming. This has lead many of the landowners to symbolically plow and seed their lands to try to prove that their lands are productive, and hey, even if they don’t make any money from the crops they might get a bit more money in compensation, eh? Some estimates say that 80,000 orange and lemon trees have appeared in the park since the plan was first mooted back in 2010.
The sanctuary was going to be in the low hills near where Cuevas meets Pulpí, where the toll road goes through. The Ministry had set aside 20 million euros to setup the park, which was deemed necessary in exchange for the massive destruction of their habitat by the toll road and the AVE.