What are 'banquetes'?
La Banqueta (walkway), or les banquetes (walkways), is the name given to the tree-lined pathways along the embankments of canals, irrigation ditches or rivers. Since the Urgell Canal went into operation, thousands of trees have been planted in its main network and irrigation ditches for two main reasons: to contribute to the stabilisation of the watercourses and to make the most of the walkways by producing fruit, firewood or wood. At first almond, willow, poplar and ash trees were planted. At a later date London plane trees were also planted. However, starting in 1965, the General Irrigation Community of the Urgell Canal launched a programme to modernise the hydraulic infrastructure and work began with prefabricated reinforced concrete elements. This has led to the gradual disappearance of trees on the walkways, these being one of the most characteristic features of the local landscape. One of the remaining areas of the tree-lined walkways is the fourth irrigation ditch, which is mostly tree-lined, with the exception of a 500-metre section where
in 2013, some construction work was carried out that had a significant impact on the landscape. Some organisations, ours included, were in complete opposition to the works as we support only those works which show absolute respect for our natural and architectural heritage.
Fauna and flora of the walkways
Much of the current woodland in the fourth irrigation ditch is anthropic. However, ash trees, London plane trees, species such as the poplar, the elm, the false acacia, and shrub species that make up a lianoid and shrub stratum: brambles, hops, ivy, creeping cinquefoil, common madder and continental poplar groves come together to form the riverside woods.
The fourth irrigation ditch is home to many animals from the riverside forests and wetlands, as well as others from the irrigated agricultural landscape that find shelter, trees to nest in and abundant food.
Among the most frequent birds in the park we can highlight the blackbird, the Iberian green woodpecker, the summer hoopoe, the goldfinch, the serin, the greenfinch, the nightingale and the Anatidae (waterbirds): the moorhen and the common coot, the mallard and the wintering grey heron.
Reptiles include the viperine water snake or viperine snake (Natrix maura).
In the sections where the canal riverbed has not been covered, the southwestern water vole (Arvicola sapidus), a protected rodent classified as vulnerable by IUCN, is abundant in rivers and streams with abundant herbaceous vegetation and earth banks that allow it to excavate galleries where it breeds. It is a herbivorous species, which spends much of its time in the water and is a biological indicator of water quality.
The various architectural elements that surround it, such as waterfalls, squares, bridges and modules, are also noteworthy.