La Resinera, the place where the fire that has put Sierra Bermeja in check again, was already affected last year and is a farm with history in Malaga. In its day, it was owned by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. As a result of the riots in Libya, which ended up causing his fall from power and his execution, the project was blocked. The European Union imposed sanctions on the regime that prevented the use of its assets abroad. The land, formally controlled by the Libyan Arab Foreign Bankcurrently serves as a private hunting ground.
The terral subsides and allows “some improvement” in the Sierra Bermeja fire
Gaddafi aspired to build a luxury residential complex in La Resinera in the middle of a Mediterranean forest of high ecological value, where cork oaks, pines and oaks grow. According to the work carried out by environmentalists Paco Puche and Juan Terroba, the estate passed into the hands of the dictator in 1991, thanks to the foreclosure of an unpaid mortgage.
The macroproject commissioned by the Libyan regime was signed by Estudio Seguí, a regular in Malaga for public works and large projects, such as the port skyscraper. He received the name of Resin Village, and it consisted of urbanizing some 500 of the 6,780 hectares of the estate. On them, 1,200 chalets would be built with their corresponding services and equipment, 77,500 square meters of hotels and tourist accommodation and a golf course.
It was presented to the Benahavís city council and aspired to its declaration of tourist interest by the Junta de Andalucía (then governed by the PSOE and IU). It was even exposed to public information a year after Gaddafi’s assassination, when the Libyan Foreign Bank wanted to reactivate the project. However, it was never executed.
Asbestos in Sierra Bermeja
“La Resinera Village is a textbook case of urbanism and combustible housing. The project itself that is submitted for approval recognizes that, for the purposes of fire risks, “the municipality of Benahavís is classified as an Extreme Danger Zone” (according to the project’s own environmental sustainability report), Puche and Terroba wrote in 2012 , in an article Posted in The Observer.
In that work, the authors warned of another danger, especially for the workers who would undertake the urbanization: asbestos. Puche was a prominent environmentalist from Malaga, owner of the Proteo bookstore and known outside the province for his fight against asbestos.
The text recalls that La Resinera (like Sierra Bermeja) sits on peridotite, an igneous rock that is more than 25 million years old. They are formed by olivines generated by recrystallization, and these give rise to serpentines. “These are asbestos minerals, that is, they are made up of long fibers that can be broken down into micron-long fibrils, which are very toxic and indestructible” in case of inhalation or ingestion.
The authors recapitulated historical sources that accounted for the presence of asbestos in Sierra Bermeja, including Pascual Madoz’s Dictionary of Spain: “In many places in Sierra Bermeja asbestos is found on the ground,” says this text from 1845. And they concluded that the need to avoid the dispersion of dust from the works and to protect the workers in contact with asbestos, together with the conditions of the terrain (with an average slope of 22%) made the execution of the project impossible.
The area is home to a remarkable natural wealth. In 2014, when the project had not yet been scrapped, a biologist discovered specimens of friar fish in the Guadalmansa River, protected by the Natura 2000 Network and located next to the area where urbanization was planned, according to picked up Malaga Today. The freshwater friar or blenny fish (Salaria fluviatilis) is one of the most endangered vertebrates in Andalusia. Its presence has only been located in four points: in the Verde and Guadaiza rivers (also in the Sierra Bermeja complex), the Hozgarganta river, in Cádiz, and in the Zújar river, between Córdoba and Badajoz.
Finally, Gaddafi’s aspiration fell into oblivion, weighed down by the power vacuum that opened up in Libya. Since then, it has served as a private hunting ground. During last year’s fire, many animals fleeing from the Sierra Bermeja fire desperately sought refuge there. The environmentalists denounced then that the hunting fences had caused many avoidable deaths.