We receive recognition for our contribution to the socioeconomic development of Menorca

The Secretary of the Spanish Committee of the MAB Programme (Man and the Biosphere Programme launched by UNESCO in 1971), Jose Cantos, recently gave us a diploma awarded for GOB’s contribution to the Sustainable Socioeconomic Development of Menorca. It was recorded in the Reserve of the Biosphere Recognitions for Environmental Commitment granted by the Autonomous Agency of National Parks of the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

GOB has received this award “for its participation in multiple sustainable social and economic development projects, in which the Land Stewardship Scheme stands out”. The resolution highlights the large number of people associated with GOB (1,450 members), their participation in many conservation campaigns and in projects that focus on orienting the economy toward sustainability, as well as for the promotion of the Land Stewardship Scheme that includes 34 agricultural farms signed up to the agreement.

The selection of awards for environmental commitment in the Biosphere Reserves analysed 112 candidates and finally granted 17 distinctions. In the case of Menorca, under the heading of Promotion of Environmental Research and Education, the Institute of Menorcan Scientific Studies – OBSAM – was recognised as the driving force behind the declaration of the Reserve of the Biosphere in Menorca and for its scientific monitoring of sustainability indicators.

This recognition at a state level has been received 24 years after Menorca became a Reserve of the Biosphere, and adds to the international prize that GOB received in those first years. That award was given in 1997, by TUI International that wanted to honour the active contribution by GOB for making the Reserve of the Biosphere a reality and not just an honorific title.

New marine economy: conference 12 and 13 May

Algies, plankton or gluten free cereals produced by a marine plant are part of the sea garden promoted by Angel Leon, chef of the three star restaurant Aponiente in Cadiz. The biologist who advises him in the search and management of species, Juan Martin, will explain his expertise at the conference taking place on 12 and 13 May, with particularly interesting presentations. Continue reading New marine economy: conference 12 and 13 May

Monday 11 April, attend a Plenary Session of the Law of the Reserve

GOB invites you to attend an Extraordinary Plenary session on the Law of the Biosphere Reserve that will take place on Monday 11 April at 10.00 am at the Consell Insular (Local Governing Council) in Maó.

Despite the fact that the time does not suit those with working hours, GOB encourages everyone who can to be present during the discussion and for voting on this interesting proposal of a legislative text that can help to consolidate Menorca’s commitment to sustainability.

The proposed Law, which has come about after two years of procedures and public exposure, includes issues such as water resources, coastal marine waters, the possibility of limiting the influx of motor vehicles, the decarbonisation strategy of the island, the quality of the air, environmental criteria for public contracts, management of forestry and biodiversity, among other things.

With the approval of the Plenary Session, scheduled for this coming Monday, the Consell Insular exercises the capacity for legislative initiative for the second time. (The first time was for the Camí de Cavalls Law.) The proposal is then passed on to Parliament, where it will be discussed by certain parliamentary groups.

Protected coral and the Port of Mahon

Menorca has always been lucky in having a large natural port. It is six kilometres long, and is a result of the geological fault line between the north and south of the island.

It is evident that there are people who are insensitive to environmental issues, but these days the environment does not depend only on personal inclination. Now there are ample international regulations to ensure that the most threatened species are not lost. The law requires their conservation and sanctions are made against gratuitous attacks.

This is the case of the Mediterrean pillow coral, an endemic coral in our sea, which is protected by the International Agreement for the Protection of the Mediterranean. It is also a species included on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List, classified as an endangered species and it has state level protection Listed as a Wild Species under the Regime of Special Protection.

This natural treasure that we are lucky enough to have in the Port of Mahon, has been in the public eye because construction works are required in areas where there are colonies of the coral. Here is a brief explanation.

The Cala Corb walkway

One of the points is in Cala Corb, where a work was demanded by the Es Castell Ayuntamiento to connect to the walkway that starts in Calesfonts. The report of the construction project was opened to public scrutiny, and a tender was made for a wooden walkway in the Cala Corb area.

To the surprise of everyone, once the works had been awarded and started, the definition of part of Cala Corb was altered while work was in progress, and huge amounts of waste materials were thrown into it. The same day that GOB asked to see the file for the licence, the works stopped.

No one had authorised this alteration. As a consequence of the dumping of waste materials, several colonies of the protected coral was gravely affected. The opinion of the environmental authority of the Central Government has been expected since then.

The argument given by the technicians who were involved is that the rock does not demonstrate sufficient strength to support the walkway as initially planned. But, this directly contradicts the project for the works which included a geological study, incorporated in Annex 1, that confirmed the strength of the rock made by different examinations carried out along the area where the cantilevered walkway was to run.

Studies signed off by qualified technicians, have not been contradicted by any written documentation from the Port Authority, only by word of mouth.

This means that the case of Cala Corb includes substantial, unauthorised modification of the licenced works, with no consideration for the study submitted on the environmental effects with a consequent serious impact on the protected species all because of a version in complete contradiction to that on file.

Fixing the planned walkway is technically easy to resolve because there are sufficient methodologies on the market to guarantee its possibility. This is especially so when a technical study exists that details the solidity of each part of the rock that will support it.

In GOB’s opinion, it would be sensible to recoup the original project, remove the dumped waste and process a restitution to the environmental damage. This seems to be the clearest way to finish the project and respond to the municipal request for making a walkway to connect with the pedestrian path.

The Illa del Rei Dock

A few months after the Cala Corb case, interest was shown in tendering for an extension to the dock on the south side of the Illa del Rei, also with a gravity load system so that the dimensions would be little more than double the current size.

To avoid new irreversible effects, GOB asked the Port Authority that a survey of environmental values be made before carrying out the work, bearing in mind that the entire outer perimeter of the Illa del Rei is an ANEI (A Natural Area of Special Interest) High Level of Protection.

This was done and its was found that the area also had the same coral species present as in Cala Corb, so the work was held up waiting to know if the environmental Ministry would authorise moving the coral colonies to another

place.

The project, when opened to public scrutiny, did not justify a need for this extension. It should be remembered that the dock had already been enlarged in 2008 by 30% and an auxiliary work dock in 2010.

If it is shown that the activity is in the public interest then consideration should be given that there may be other systems, used in other ports of Menorca, that can be used for pontoons, rather than the gravity load system with the inevitable dramatic change to the entire seabed.

It must be borne in mind that the Illa del Rei is just three kilometres from the mouth of the Port. The enlargement of the dock proposed is to be made to the west, that is towards the inner part of the Port, sheltered by the existing gravity load dock. We understand that using infrastructure with less impact would serve to unblock the current holdup of the works.

But, if it is insisted in making a work dock, then there will have to be a further delay to that of the last two years, waiting for the Ministry authorization.

The Ports are areas that coexist closely with the individual problems of the towns. The Port of Mahon has seen a lot of waterside loss and changes to the sidewalks, especially in the last 50 years. Learning to use it without causing endless damage to the environment is a moral necessity and a legal obligation.

Tourism Decree-Law (2): avoid greenwashing and urban hazards

This is the second evaluation of the Decree-Law of last February on urgent measures for the sustainability and circularity of tourism in the Balearic Islands. The first evaluated the need and scope for a moratorium on new tourist places. Today we analyse the principal shortcomings and dangers found in the text that should be discussed like a Parliamentary law. Continue reading Tourism Decree-Law (2): avoid greenwashing and urban hazards

Conscientious Ecology