Tenerife is calling time on the Instagram-friendly stone towers that have cropped up across the island’s beaches.
For several years now, people have flocked to Playa Jardín near Puerto de la Cruz and El Beril near Adeje to build the towers of stacked stones. The cairn-like towers have become hugely popular on Instagram – as they are in many locations around the world – but they have a destructive effect on beach ecosystems. They don’t have the spiritual associations in the Canaries that they do in some cultures, and local conservationists are campaigning to have them banned.
A public awareness campaign launched by local organisations together with the Tenerife government will include posters warning of the threat the towers pose to the fragile environment. Pedro Luis Sánchez, a biologist at Teide National Park, made a video supporting the campaign called #PasaSinHuella (Leave No Trace), in which he explained: “the stones provide a home for living beings, such as plant organisms that are essential for the health of the soil and are needed for insects to thrive. They in turn provide food for reptiles who live under these rocks. When we pile up the rocks, we take away their home”.
A team of 150 volunteers met a week ago to dismantle each tower and had levelled the beach within just half an hour. But a day later, all the towers had been rebuilt. Jaime Coello, director of the Fundación Telesforo Bravo-Juan Coello backing the campaign, is demanding further action. “We need legislation to impose punitive measures on those who continue to build these towers,” Coello said to Tenerife newspaper El Dia.
David Hernandez, a local environmental spokesperson, explained that the posters will be put up urgently, and that the council is exploring the possibility of a legal ban on the stone towers.