Round Table Discussion at the Ateneu on Menorca traffic

This Thursday, 9 February at 19.30 the second round table discussion will take place at the Ateneu of Mahon. It is part of the cycle called Menorca, 700 km2. Land traffic consumes 30% of the primary energy supply on the island and the sum of maritime and air transport another 30%. Also, we have problems with the excessive number of vehicles at certain times and places. The Island transport model needs to be revised and redefined.

The cycle of round table discussions that have been organised by GOB and the Ateneu of Maó, with de collaboration of Menorca Preservation,  seeks to explore the limits of Menorca both for now and in the future, at a time when problems of natural resources and overcrowding are prominent. Experts will give their points of view before giving the opportunity for debate with the attendees.

This Thursday, the participants will be Lucas Casasnovas, head of Urban Mobility in SEAT and CEO of SEAT Mó (Head of SEAT Urban Transport);  Antoni Masferrer, head of the car rental company, Autos Menorca; and Montse Morlà, the Councillor for transport of the Consell Insular de Menorca.

They will give their views from their different perspectives so that we can have more points for consideration on the necessity to transform the current model and on how to make transport in Menorca more efficient.

The two remaining round table debates will be on Thursdays 16 and 23 February, dealing with the need for nautical planning and Menorca’s capacity for receiving visiting boats.

Pupils from two schools will continue analysing the sand in Son Bou and Algaiarens

For the third year running, two schools will analyse the sand from two beaches in Menorca to determine the presence of micro and mesoplastics.

Thanks to the support of the Sa Nostra Caixa de Balears Foundation and Bankia, through their call for Environmental and Sustainable Development, with the three sections of GOB in Menorca, Mallorca and Ibiza, continuity has been given to the citizen science project that started in Menorca in 2021.

Microplastic Watchers is a citizens science marine project integrated with the Observadores del Mar platform, that collects data on the presence and quantity of micro and mesoplastics in the sand of the beach, in order to work on the diagnosis and make aware of this global problem. Taking advantage of the location, a series of activities are carried out focussed on showing the participants the natural values of the coastal ecosystems and the problems that are found with them.

This year, the Primary School, Margalida Florit, in Ciutadella will be in charge of analysing the sand at Algaiarens in la Vall, and the Primary School Verge del Carme of Maó will work on the beach of Son Bou, to the south of the Island.

From the start of the project in January 2021, samples of sand have been collected and analysed each month as we published in July 2022.

Looking at the collected data, interesting information can be drawn. For example, on the Son Bou beach, on the conservative side, the data indicates that there could be more than a million and a half plastics (micro and mesoplastics) and that on the Algaiarens beach we found an average of 171 fragments per square metre.

Therefore, the samples analysed on this course will help to give accurate information on the degree of contamination from plastics that our beaches suffer. At the same time, we hope the activity will help the pupils as well as their families to understand more about the coastal ecosystems and raise awareness on the huge problem of plastic waste in the marine environment.

Claiming water for the Albufera des Grau

The lack of control over freshwater is affecting the Albufera. The protest excursion that took place last Sunday, in the cold, wind and downpours of rain, was aimed to explain the problem.

The Albufera consists of a wide water basin (more than 50 square kilometres) and historically the water was supplied from different sources throughout the year. However, the drilling of wells did not consider leaving even a drop for the natural environment. What is called the ecological flow does not exist and this problem is being taken very seriously.

The largest lagoon of Menorca, the “Parque Natural” (Nature Preserve) of the island, the crown of the Reserve of the Biosphere, has a habitat that has been transformed because it is no longer supplied by freshwater, the lake has become saline and the bird populations are declining drastically.

It is therefore urgent to review the existing catchments in the environment. It is important to see if they are authorised, if they have meters that have been mandatory for many years, to check if readings are being made and if the data is being sent every year as established by current legislation.

The case of the Royal Irrigation Ditch should be legally analysed. It was documented as early as the XVI century that water is sent by turns to different farms ending up at the Albufera. For many years, this circulation has not been happening because water is removed at the head of the lagoon.

Finally, more short-term activities need to be looked at, such as analysing the possibility of using part of the purified water from the new treatment plant of the northern urbanisations to take to the most protected area of Menorca and help its recovery.

Cases such as this show clearly the urgency for changing the habitual inaction in the management of water in Menorca. We need ministries to act and not be inhibited by problems.

Water in Menorca, a debate on Thursday at the Ateneu

This evening, Thursday 2 February at 19.30 at the Maó Ateneu, the first of the round table debates of the cycle 700 Km2 will take place. They aim to explore the limits of Menorca for both the present and the future, at a time when serious problems of natural resources and overcrowding are evident. Experts will be participating giving their points of view and giving the opportunity to debate with those attending. These debates will take place every Thursday during the month of February at the Ateneu. The four debates will concentrate on water, transport, nautical saturation and the reception capacity of tourists to the island.

At this first round table, José Antonio Fayas will participate. He is an engineer who for many years has been following the problems of our aquifers and proposing solutions. Also, Agusti Rodriquez, hydrogeologist, who has taken part in different studies on Menorca’s aquifers and in the planning of the management of water by the island’s different town halls. Finally, Joana Maria Garau, Director General of Water Resources of the Balearic Government who is responsible for the management of bodies of fresh water, both surface and underground.

Fresh water is a grave problem for us and that has been talked about for a long time, without it ever being resolved. Quite the contrary, it seems to be getting worse. To be able to have first-hand information and to know what measures are being applied is important to be able to forecast how this resource can affect the wellbeing of the island’s population, its economy and the environment.

The cycle has been organised by GOB and the Maó Ateneu with the support of Menorca Preservation.

29 January, excursion, concerning unsustainability, Albufera des Grau

A new excursion for the campaign Menorca, InSOStenible (Unsustainable) will take place on Sunday 29 January. This time, the main subject will be the environmental effect resulting from the lowering of the water level and the lack of control over fresh water resources.

The Albufera des Grau is symbolic of Menorca’s nature. The largest wetlands area of the island suffered from repeated attempts for it to be urbanised, but the constant public response was to paralyse urban growth, the projected golf course and intentions to convert the lagoon into a nautical harbour.

In addition was the initiative of people who planted hundreds of plants and recovered the dunes area near the beach, and over the area that had been designated for a golf course and was nearly destroyed. Today, this area has completely recovered.

Nevertheless, the Albufera is dying. The progressive reduction of freshwater going into the lagoon means that it is becoming seriously saline. The impact is such that the bird populations are collapsing, which is not happening in other wetlands on the Island.

In 40 years, the Albufera has lost 90% of the usual bird population that was living there. Yes, it is a Natural Parkland, but, the uncontrolled taking of fresh water for other uses is killing off many of the natural values of this emblematic space.

The excursion, Menorca In-SOS-tenible, on Sunday will be to raise awareness of the problem, to understand the evolution of the place and consider possible solutions. People interested should meet at 10 am in the carpark of the Es Grau beach. It is estimated to end at 13.30.

It will be of low physical difficulty and there is no need for prior booking. It will not be cancelled even if the weather is bad. Please pass on this information to all your friends and, if possible, share a vehicle.

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

Es Castell is showing the exhibition of photographs called La Menorca que Estimam

The exhibition of the “The Menorca we Love” photographic competition can now be seen at the Public Library Angel Ruiz i Pablo in Es Castell. This competition was organised to commemorate the 45 years since GOB Menorca started. You can visit it on Mondays to Fridays from 9 – 14 h and 16 – 20 hours, until 28 February.

The competition was looking for photographs that impart the natural values that Menorca still conserves. 106 people participated. The exhibition is showing the 30 photographs selected by the judges. They capture emblematic species, landscapes and all the diversity of the island’s environment and show why it matters to keep working to preserve it.

GOB thanks the entities and everyone who made this competition possible. We would especially like to thank Joan Carrés, who coordinated and commissioned the competition and the exhibition with the help of Bep Taltavull, Jaume Franch and the Foto Club F/Llum in Ferreries, the Foto Club RevelArt of Es Castell and Damià Rotger. We would also like to give special thanks to the members of the committee of judges, Antoni Cladera, Fina Salord and Magda Seoane. Also, our thanks to the Library and the Town Hall of Es Castell for the use of the exhibition space.

Greetings from the President of GOB Menorca

I would like to share with you the satisfaction of seeing how our association, after 45 years of life, is continuing to grow stronger, full of ideas and projects working towards our objective of making human activity compatible with the environmental values of the island, so necessary for the welfare of its inhabitants. Our work is rigorous, consistent, and open to dialogue and is recognised and supported by an increasing number of people who have joined our association that this year has reached over 1500 members.

We have much work to do. We are confronted by complex situations that require the involvement of society as a whole. The climate emergency, the management of water and tourist overcrowding are huge problems that threaten not only the environment but also the welfare of people and the economy. In order to address these problems effectively, much dialogue, based on rigorously researched information, is necessary to come to a social consensus that must not be deferred. It is upsetting when we see, quite often, contrary views that animate outdated partisan and sterile disputes.

From GOB we try to contribute to social debate by providing thoroughly researched information, opinions and above all, alternatives. Often when arguments from a different point of view are contributed democratically, the reality is that the solution to grave problems is lost and public interest is superseded by private demands. However, not everyone acts in this way and the growing strength of the entity shows that more and more people understand and share our approach.

Time has proved us right. Our successful campaigns in our first years to protect many beaches and natural spaces from being urbanised are now profitable in being able to offer a sought after tourist destination that differs from other places enjoying our environment. GOB has spent thirty years talking about climate change, when few people considered it and some even denied it.  It is now a few decades since GOB started the Land Stewardship Scheme, seeking viability for the economy of the countryside while keeping the characteristic Menorcan landscape and its biodiversity. Recovering local varieties and its agriculture could be described as maintaining the Island´s traditional values. Currently, the economic potential of differing agricultural production linked to the local economy is well recognised, as is the sovereignty of food in its gastronomy included in the quality of tourism. 37 farms have signed the agreement with GOB to work together with these ideas.

The problem of water preoccupies us as always. We believe that the solution happens more efficiently by the improvement and reuse of water from treatment plants and the collection of rainwater. With this in mind, 25 years ago GOB started the Es Viver garden centre for Menorcan plants aiming for sustainable gardening using plants adapted to our climate and, furthermore, avoiding the enormous water consumption that is used for lawns and tropical plants. This practice is now being used more frequently in private gardens, tourist establishments and by gardening professionals, but there is still a long way to go.

Unfortunately, as private interest is commonly put ahead of that of the community, we need to have public ministries to look after our interests by making rules that guarantee the rights of individuals and collectives for society as a whole. The right to health, culture, housing, the environment, water, energy, employment…For this, GOB recognises the huge importance for a definitive approval of the new Land Planning regulations (PTI), the Law of the Reserve of the Biosphere of Menorca and the Welfare Law for Current and Future Generations, presented in the Balearic Government by popular legislative initiative.

In short, there is much to be done, and GOB continues to work with enthusiasm for the quality of life in Menorca. I wish to finish with giving special thanks to the many people who have made our work possible, those who form part of our organisation, the volunteers, the members, the Board Members, the collaborators, entities, institutions, the media…

VERY MANY THANKS and Season’s Greetings for a new year filled with health and happiness and wishes for a more just and healthy society.

Carlos Coll

President of GOB Menorca

Now we have grown to 1500

In the year that GOB Menorca celebrates 45 years of its existence, we now have 1500 members, having grown at a rate of practically one every four days. On Tuesday, GOB Menorca held an annual meeting where the work that has been done during the year and the forecast of the activities for the next year with the corresponding budget were approved. In addition, the Island Board of Directors and the interisland presidency were renewed.

During 2022, GOB has continued working at a good pace offering sustainability alternatives for Menorca, contributing to the wellbeing of its people. It has been a year of debate and mobilizations about tourist overcrowding, which will continue. The law of the Reserve of the Biosphere is pending in Parliament. Converting out of date hotels for current use worries us and, even more so, when we see that regulations and interests to maintain such a model, as in the case of the large hotels at Son Bou, to make the alterations they want, by our criteria, do not comply with the law. We have also shown how we are going ahead with the protection of the marine environment, despite lots of resistance and some backward steps.

The growth in the number of affiliated people has been accompanied by increased activity. 3700 people have participated in 92 public activities. 1857 students have taken part in the 101 environmental education activities. In six leisure activities such as camps and weekend outings, 103 young people have been involved. 155 people have an active agreement for volunteering. The Land Stewardship Scheme has been expanded with 37 estates signed up to the  agreement with GOB. The Centre for Recuperation for Wild Animals has taken in 1300 animals. The Es Viver garden centre has distributed 10,000 plants suitable for sustainable gardening, 20,000 ecological seedlings for the garden and more than 500 fruit trees of local varieties.

The assembly approved a budget for 2023 of 674,000 euros. Membership fees and donations represent 13% of the revenue, which guarantee total independence and allows us to finance so much work dedicated to environmental policies. The rest of the projects (environmental education, the Wildlife Recuperation Centre, etc.) require other sources of finance: 66% comes from the private sector (services, sales and sponsorships) and only 21% from various public ministries (town halls, the Island Government, The Balearic Islands Government, European Union…) that help with different GOB initiatives that are a clear benefit to the Island.

Bosco Febrer was re-elected as the president of the Interisland GOB, pending the results of the assemblies of Mallorca and Ibiza. The Island Board of Directors for Menorca was approved with Carlos Coll as President and another 25 people:  Bosco Febrer; Agustí Gómez; Xavi Camps; Cecilia Ligero; Jaume Obrador; Josep Mercadal; Santiago Udaeta; Tomeu Sánchez; Geroni Marqués; Aina Blanco; Ismael Peregrino; Marta Carreras; Vicky Bargiela; Granada del Río; Eduard Furró; Pepa Orfila; Jaume Franch; Magda Seoane; Xema Moya; Joan Carrés; Margalida Masferrer; Francesc Domènech; Isabel Pérez-Chuecos; Gemma Capdevilla; Giulia Massaro. Apart from being numerous, it is a board made up of people from diverse areas of experience and a large spectrum of ages.

2023 will be very challenging. In addition to the general uncertain situation, there is an opportunity to define a regulatory framework in response to the problems such as overcrowding and for the protection of water resources. The approval of the Island Land Planning and for the Reserve of the Biosphere Law are key regarding this and GOB will continue working to incorporate efficient measures for the sustainability of the Island.  We will continue working for the future of the Agriculture sector as a tool for improving the environment, the climate crisis, the protection of the marine environment, waste reduction, responsible consumption, the preservation of the landscape, sustainable transport… In all these fields and others, GOB hopes its work continues to add positively to the environmental sustainability of Menorca.

Happy Holidays!

300 views of the Menorca we love

Visit the exhibition of the photograph competition “La Menorca que estimam” (The Menorca we love) that has been organized on the occasion of 45 years of GOB in Menorca. It was inaugurated last Friday (25 November) with the prize giving to the winners of the three best photographs chosen by the judges. The exhibition can be seen in the Claustre del Carme until 20 December from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 10.00-13.00 and 18.00 to 21.00 hours. Continue reading 300 views of the Menorca we love

Conscientious Ecology