Summer camps for 2023 now available

Summer is already here, the days are getting longer…and the GOB summer camps on the environment are coming. If you want to know more about life in Menorca and the nature that surrounds it…these summer camps are for you.

The Environmental Education area of GOB is continuing to prepare activities with the experience of previous years. For this year, we have three distinct events, depending on the age of the participants that will take place between the last week of June and the first half of July.

The team of monitors is prepared and keen to revive experiences but are excited, also, to carry out new activities and itineraries that we are designing for this summer.

Going out to live in nature is exciting and is something we never forget. The GOB Education project would like to share this experience with many children and young people of Menorca, conscious of the knowledge and awareness they will gain.

The activities that will be carried out are as follows:

  • Children’s camp: from 26 to 30 June. For children born between 2014 and 2016
  • Youth camp: from 3 to 8 July. For those born between 2010 and 2013
  • Itinerant camp: from 11 to 17 July. Young people born between 2008 and 2010

Registration will open for members on 27 March and for non-members from 11 April. Places are limited and once they are all taken, the registration period will end. For more information you can send an email to and you will be told everything you need to do.

This activity is organised by the Environmental Education area of GOB, and is helped by the Representative of the Reserve of the Biosphere of the Island Governing Council, the General Directorate of Waste and Environmental Education of the Balearic Government and the Town Councils of Maó and Es Mercadal.

Another protected bird wounded by shooting taken into the Recuperation Centre

A Scopoli’s shearwater has been taken into the Wildlife Centre for Recuperation, victim of a shotgun. It is the second case in a month when a protected species has been taken for the same reason. The last time it was a hawk, a peregrine falcon. This is not the permissible time for hunting and so it cannot have been shot in error. We have made official complaints to SEPRONA and to the environmental and hunting authorities, hoping that they can find the guilty person and solve this illegal practice.

The Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) is a marine bird that lives in the open sea. It goes to land only when it wants to breed. At this time of the year, groups begin to be seen near the coast. The injured shearwater was found a mile out to sea, with a recent wound in its wing. Once it was looked at, a break was seen caused by a shotgun cartridge. It is hard to imagine how this could have occurred.

The bird is now being cared for in the Centre to see if it can recover adequately. Shearwaters become really stressed when they are deprived of their liberty. We are worried how to give support for a long time at the Centre, enough required for mending the fracture. It is complicated in Centres of Recuperation because of the time needed to cure the fractures and they do not survive well in captivity.

The shearwater is a species of high level protection, catalogued as “vulnerable” in the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species by Royal Decree 139/2011. The penal code provides for prison and heavy fines for anyone who shoots at any of these species of high level protection.

You can watch commemorative video of the 45 years that GOB has been in Menorca.

Studies support the need to restore the protection of the Isla del Aire Marine Reserve

Scientific studies reinforce the need to reinstate the lost protection of the sea near the Illa de l’Aire. There are three times as many fish inside the protected area than outside it. GOB is asking the Balearic Government Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mae de la Concha, to reconsider urgently this loss of protection before a large part of the progress in conservation has disappeared.

Recently, the latest “report on the state of conservation of fish populations vulnerable to fishing in the marine reserve of the Illa de l’Aire” was published. This was carried out by the Jaume Ferrer Research Station of La Mola (The Balearic Oceanographic Centre, IEO-CSIC) and the Socio Environmental Observatory of Menorca (OBSAM-IME) and financed by Menorca Preservation.

If we compare the results of this report with a study produced in 2018, before the area was declared a marine reserve, we see how, in the area of maximum protection, the abundance and biomass of fish vulnerable to fishing has increased by 50% while unprotected areas have remained the same since 2018. The documentation also shows how the Special Diving Area (the most protected area of the reserve) has three times the amount of fish biomass as outside it.

With these data, the authors of the report conclude that after four years of tracking, the results confirm the potential of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire hosting an increased diversity, abundance and biomass as vulnerable to fishing.

However, it should be noted that after the fieldwork of this study was carried out, the Decree 38/2022 was published on 6 September 2022. This decree modified the decree for the creation of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire reducing 22% of the area of maximum protection. This new zoning left unprotected an area that has shown, in only three years, to have a great recovery potential. As the authors point out, the lack of protection in this area could affect the recovery and conservation potential of the Reserve towards rocky underground fish populations.

Thus it is again clear, as shown previously, the removal of protection in the Special Diving Area was not made with the support of any scientific criteria nor was it driven by a request from the Island Governing Council of Menorca, as has been shown by their latest reactions.

GOB again asks the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food of the Balearic Government to reinstate and recover the original zoning that the marine reserve of the Illa de l’Aire was enjoying before the modification made some months ago and for which no motives can be justified.

Look at the commemorative video of the 45 years that GOB has been in Menorca.


Thursday 9 March, Law of the Reserve of the Biosphere, debate in Ferreries

The opportunities, challenges, significant and insignificant advances in different topics covered by the recent Law of the Reserve of the Biosphere of Menorca, will be explored by GOB this Thursday at 20.00 hours in Cas Vesins, Ferreries.

Matter to be transferred or delegated will be analysed, as well as the distinguishing managements foreseen in different issues such as the landscape, tourist model, decarbonisation, water, the coastline, the marine environment, air and other subjects.

After the introduction, the debate will be open to attendees. The event is open to the public.

You may watch the commemorative video of 45 years of GOB here

Increased tourist inspection in Menorca

GOB welcomes the increase on the staff of tourist inspectors in Menorca. With the recent addition of two, there will be seven to carry out this work.

The emergence of digital platforms has led to the mass rental of houses to tourists, many of which are unauthorised. This problem is not exclusive to Menorca, but it has been estimated that there are between 6,000 to 7,000 houses that make undeclared rentals.

Apart from the short-term income that can be made by some property owners, the situation is causing two negative consequences at the collective level. The most evident is the overcrowding in summer. Last August there were some 35,000 people unknown where they slept. This number is estimated by discounting the registered population, the recognised tourist places and the margin of people that stay in houses of families or friends.

Having such a large volume of tourists occupying unplanned places is making the island suffer from evident overcrowding, when, in fact, a policy to contain the growth of new urbanizations has been made.

However, tourist rental is recognised as one of the main reasons for the lack of available housing for the resident population or for those who come to work seasonally.

In effect, there are about 28,000 places that are legalized for this mode, which is equivalent, according to official figures, to some 5,600 houses. If this is added to the number of 6,000 or 7,000, undeclared rental houses cited above, we come to spectacular figures.

In order to curb the negative consequences GOB has asked on several occasions to increase substantially the amount of work for controlling the situation. For this reason, reinforcing the tourist inspection service has been received very positively.

Overcrowding Menorca and leaving it without places to live is not a good way to go for the Island. As has been said on many occasions, the collective interest should prevail over the individual.

Look at the commemorative video of the 45 years that GOB has been in Menorca.

Land stewardship agreement with a solar park

Taking advantage of the conditions of low human presence in a solar park, GOB has signed a land stewardship agreement with the Parc del Camí de Sant Joan in order to promote maximum biodiversity.

The installation of a solar energy park will begin to be constructed in the next few months and will occupy about 10 hectares of very rocky land. It has obtained a favourable report from the Medi Ambient department and a municipal licence.

The idea is to carry out various activities at the points where there are no solar panels in order to help different fauna: make drinking troughs with safe access; warm refuges for insects; stone refuges for mammals; areas for sowing cereals; enhancement of wild flowers of different seasons, etc.

GOB has already produced some inventories of flora and fauna of the area in order to be able to monitor the changes as they occur.

The implementation of renewable energies in rural areas has quite exhaustive criteria relating to zoning, integration with the countryside and construction systems, aimed at avoiding the irreversible transformation of the land. With this agreement, the aim is to go further and try out activities that help fauna in a positive way.

We are confident that good results will follow and that the experience serves to increase the environmental benefits of renewable installations that are being implemented on the island.

Look here to see the commemorative video of 45 years of GOB in Menorca.

The dark swimming pools

The case of the illegal swimming pools in the Torre Vella agro tourism is not yet closed. There are still a few episodes to be resolved found in a dossier that is subject to a glaring lack of transparency. The town council has returned to denying GOB access for consulting the relevant documentation.

At this site near Alaior, they have started some interesting agricultural production. There are olives, grapes, aromatic herbs and beehives. They want to do the product processing on site or jointly with Santa Ponça farm also owned by them.

The argument surrounding Torre Vella is not agricultural but urban and environmental. It is worth remembering that this agro tourism hotel started its processing when all the agricultural buildings would be dedicated to tourist activities and they could increase their volumes.

The principal buildings are the farmhouse and a large cowshed. Extensions were planned for both cases. Another eight auxiliary buildings (stables, warehouses, barns, etc) were also included destined for tourism and enlargement. In total, 5500 cubic metres for tourism. A swimming pool was included.

Then, not having left anything for agricultural use, they put up new buildings occupying some 1,000 square metres adjoining the Cami de Cavalls.

Despite the fact The Island Council (Consell Insular) declared the project was declared of general interest and it passed an environmental impact assessment, the developers found time to talk to the media to say that they were finding many obstacles for their project. The activities they had completed indicated they had influenced the development in a very serious way.

The problem is that they decided to breach the conditions of the authorization for the entire operation. So, in addition to GOB’s notice to the Urban Planning Discipline Department in the autumn of 2019, regarding the appearance of seven swimming pools that had not been declared in the project, now there was the discovery of another list of irregularities. The Department inspectors saw platforms, sheds and thousands of square metres of cemented and other pavements.

When these breaches became known, the Government Department of Environment sent their Agents to carry out another inspection. In addition to the things already mentioned, they found landfills (of more than 2,000 square metres) and the opening of a new road expressly denied, as well as the paving of other roads.

Altogether, this is a culmination of breaches of great magnitude. The solution is complicated if they insist in not returning to the project that was approved. In this case, it is not enough just to comply with urban rules, but they must also comply with the environmental conditions that were applied yet have been completely ignored.

In other words, if the swimming pool had been for rainwater and wastewater containers, that were to save consumption from the well, they could not now be swimming pools. They cannot be legalized as such. If the opening of a road is denied, it cannot now be left open. If areas cannot be paved – in order to decrease rustic land – they cannot now remain paved. And so on.

This case is one to which a curious lack of transparency is added. When GOB learned some years ago that the developers had presented documents for legalize irregularities, the Alaior Town Council denied GOB access to the files. Despite the fact that it was a case in which GOB had appeared personally on repeated occasions and that they have obvious environmental relations, the Town Hall denied access alleging that the case did not have a final result.

Last November, the Town Hall was asked again, but gave the same negative reply.

Meanwhile the illegal swimming pools are working and promoted as though they have been legal for the last three to four years.

The obscurity of these cases has been denounced by GOB in front of the Council for Transparency. If there is no positive response, it has been agreed that administrative litigations will be applied.

For more information on this case, you can visit Santa Ponça and the indignant promoters,  Seven illegal swimming pools in an agro tourism.

The Land Stewardship Scheme reaches Lebanon

The Land Stewardship Scheme of Menorca generates interest in distant places. Recently there has been an exchange with Lebanon in an area that also has a declared Reserve of the Biosphere, which applies similar programmes with those of Menorca in order to invigorate agricultural management and environmental conservation.

Al-Shouf Cedar Society (ACS) is a non-profit organization that manages the land in the Reserve of the Biosphere of Shouf famous for its spectacular millennial cedars. The economic crisis and the conflicts surrounding the country led to land being abandoned, which now represents new opportunities.

Al-Shouf has a very interesting management of biomass from pruned branches and farm manure, which has involved different land agencies in the area, so waste becomes a resource. It also works to preserve its territorial mosaic providing functional and environmental values, as is the case with Menorca.

On a Lebanese initiative, a delegation came to Menorca last October to learn about our Land Stewardship Scheme at first hand to gain a better understanding of some of the strategies and activities that we carry out. Amongst other things, they were particularly interested in the monitoring of bio indicators on farms and the work carried out by volunteers.

Recently, a Menorcan delegation, with technicians from the Reserve of the Biosphere Agency and members of GOB visited Lebanon and it was possible to go to different conservation projects and see the recovery and beneficial exploitation of some of the areas. Explanations were given to the Lebanese on the alliance between farmers, owners and conservationists that is being promoted in Menorca.

The visit to Lebanon included an interview with the Spanish Ambassador who was very satisfied with the collaboration already established and offered his help in any way he could. The Deputy Chief of Mission attended the signing of an agreement for encouraging the sharing of successful experiences between the two places.

The Al-Shouf organisation and GOB are part of the Alliance for Nature and Mediterranean Culture that aims to work internationally in the search for solutions for providing healthy food, for the management of land sustainability and the recovery of biodiversity.

We hope that this new collaboration can bear fruit in joint projects and that, little by little, we can see the impact we make on each side of the Mediterranean.

Watch the video here commemorating the 45 years of GOB in Menorca.

Formal complaint made about the shooting of a peregrine falcon

We have made a formal complaint to SEPRONA and the Environmental Police of a peregrine falcon that was wounded by a shotgun. The Peregrine falcon is now in the Centre of Recuperation for Wild Animals. Falcons are a protected species, but this type of activity takes place repeatedly. We hope that this time the perpetrator can be found and that the sanctions defined by the law, among which are prison sentences, can be applied. It is inadmissible that this type of aggression can occur in Menorca.

The falcon was located at the beginning of the Mahon industrial estate, unable to fly. The x-ray confirmed that the bird had been shot by a hunting gun. It had three pellets lodged in it, one of which caused a fracture in the left wing that stopped if from flying. The animal is now having care in the Centre of Recuperation. We wait to see if the fracture will mend sufficiently to be able to set the falcon free. Falcons hunt in flight and require wings in a perfect state so that they can eat.

Taking in falcons that have been shot to the Recuperation Centre is, sadly, not exceptional. The last cases were in 2020. Given that the places of the activities vary, the chances of an injured animal being located and taken to GOB are low and we fear that this unjustifiable practice is too frequent in Menorca.

GOB has made a formal complaint and has asked for the maximum effort to have this practice cleared up totally. We would also ask if anyone has any information they should report it. It is incredible that an island that sells itself as an example of respect for nature can produce such contrary activities and we must not allow that a minority of people can throw this image away and over so many years.

Watch the video here commemorating the 45 years of GOB in Menorca.

Binigarba: the argument that was lost

In the Binigarba properties, near Ciutadella, there has been a battle of interests, involving influencers, fictions, and environmental aggression against those who have dedicated many hours of attention to the problems. It seems that the case has now been closed and that the area is at last protected.

The case started in 2004 when the project to take sand from the farm was opened for public scrutiny. It was promoted by Valeriano Allès Carnet, SL that already was exploiting the quarries of Son Sintes and Ses Arenetes. The project was presented as restoration but, in reality, it was a new one for sand extraction over 180,000 square metres. Eventually, it was denied.

Two years later, in 2006, the Binigarba Rural Society of Menorca (SRM) presented to the Ciutadella Town Council, a project agreed with Valeriano Allès, to recondition the land to improve agricultural tasks. It was planned to take place over 127,527 square metres and to remove 444,628 cubic metres of sand. The report explained that Valeriano Allès would make the investment for reconditioning the land in exchange for sand useful for building. It was the same as the previous project, which had been denied, but presented in a different way.

In 2007, a licence was granted for reconditioning the land for agricultural improvement. After some months, GOB advised that this was outside the authorised area and that rubble was being dumped from building works. The Director General of Industries sent a suspension order warning that he expressly denied the activity of sand extraction from this place. An urban disciplinary file was opened and the activity was stopped.

At the end of 2012, the developers presented a reformulated project and began works without a license. GOB advised that, once again, they were dumping materials coming from other works and, furthermore, at that time, the area was being incorporated into the network of protected nature spaces, Red Natura 2000.

It was the time when Ciutadella had left the Island Consortium of Urban Discipline. The Town Council allowed the comings and goings of lorries for two months until GOB put on pressure for the result of the disciplinary file that caused a new suspension of works because they were not licensed.

There were more attempts and the developers presented a project to legalise the work already done but continued moving the earth. They were required to have an environment evaluation, which took a long time to submit.

In 2018, the Environment Commission accepts the environment evaluation favourably with a series of conditions. One of them was that it was not permissible to dump extraneous materials on the area. Another one was that Minas, the mining authorities, had to give authorization for making use of sand that the developers wanted to extract.

The developers filed an appeal against the agreement with the environment department. The appeal was dismissed. They then presented a new project to the Town Hall, that did not comply with the environmental conditions laid down and it was rejected by the municipal body.

Finally, the necessary time passed and in the autumn of 2022, the licence petition was denied and an order to return the area to its original state within a two months. After that time, enforcement fines would be imposed if complete restoration had not been effected.

It seems, therefore, finally rationality has been imposed after 19 years of repeated attempts and that the area, which has formal protection, will become so in practice.

Furthermore, the developers, who have repeatedly failed to comply with the authorised conditions have to reinstate the area. Among the impacts caused, there has been significant dismantling, dumping of building materials from elsewhere, and the breaking up of nearly a kilometre of dry stone walling. (See photographs)

You can watch here the video commemorating 45 years of GOB in Menorca.

Conscientious Ecology