GOB matters is a section of Roqueta, a monthly magazine in English, written by Chita Laurie.
GOB, or Grupo Balear d’Ornitologia y Defensa de la Naturalesa, is the Balearic organisation which is concerned with the care of the environment, and gives voice to those who wish to support its principles in matters of public interest. To that end, participation in public outcries against the unnecessary roundabouts taking up so much land, against the petroleum prospecting causing damage to the ecology and to tourism, against illegal building, and much more helps to keep Minorca as part of the Reserve of the Biosphere, a UNESCO honorific awarded in 1993.
GOB researches and provides viable alternatives to threats to the countryside trying to keep a balance between human needs and the natural environment on which we depend. Caring for nature is important for our health, our economy our well being. We depend on the ecosystems (the biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment) for our food, for our water and the air we breathe, and we damage them at our peril. We are responsible for managing the environment not only for now but also for future generations.
One of the problems Minorca has is while depending economically on tourism, too much of it can damage the very reasons tourists are attracted to the island. A recent example has been the overcrowding of its most famous beaches, Macarella, Macarelleta and Turqueta, during the high season. At Turqueta this was provoked by the unauthorised opening of a second car park which the last Island Council allowed in 2013, against the environmental planning for that area, and without a licence. Not only was the high density of people on the beaches from cars parking in the woods as well as in this car park, causing environmental damage but also gave grave security problems in cases of emergency. The Ciutadella Town Council legislated that this car park be closed, but nothing was done about it and it was shocking that the rules and legal reports could be ignored.
GOB has on many occasions raised the problems of overcrowding on the beaches south of Ciutadella. People want to visit them because they are famous for their natural beauty and it is inexcusable to allow their degradation by excessive numbers of people visiting them. These are spaces declared Natural Areas of Special Interest, and a Zone of Special Conservation for birds as to be expected in a Reserve of the Biosphere. They are beaches which were saved from urbanisation by public pressure and now need to be conserved by good management.
Since people arrive on foot to the beaches of Macarella, Macarelleta and Turqueta, from Cala Galdana as well as from enlarged car parking sites, GOB has suggested studying the possibility of closing access to private vehicles and providing public transport from Ciutadella so reducing the pressure of people on the beaches.
It is a victory for GOB that on 12 August, the car park that had opened without authority at Turqueta was closed, its closure ordered by the newly elected Island Council. This is the first step towards restoring the charm of one of the most famous and symbolic beaches of the island.
It is farming which is one of the principal shapers of the landscape of Minorca. Farmers and proprietors who subscribe to Sustainable Agricultural Practices contribute daily to the maintenace of the flora and fauna of the island’s countryside. The farms which have signed up to the Land Stewardship Scheme with GOB promote their high quality ecological products from sustainable farming methods.
The Agrotienda (or farm shop) is an initiative to put consumers wanting guaranteed high quality food stuffs in touch direct with farmers concerned with the environment. Direct selling eliminates the costs of intermediaries. There is a list of the farmers who are part of this scheme on the GOB webiste amd it shows the products obtainable from each farm. They include meat, cheese, wine. wwwgobmemorca.com/agrobotiga. Or, you can go to the GOB office, at the Molino del Rey, 53 Cami des Castell, Mahon, on Mondays to Fridays from 9 am until 3 pm, and, after 11 September, on Mondays and Thursdays from 5.30 until 8 pm. Help maintain these farming practices by buying good food direct.
The Roadworks between Mahon and Ciutadella
According the the Diario de Menorca of 14 August, Maite Salord, the President of the newly elected Island Council (Consell Insular), has again said that they are putting great efforts to replanning the road works, especially of the contentious roundabouts. Road works going on slowly at the moment are at a “summer rhythm” while the Council waits for external judicial reports. Tractors are removing the materials extracted from making the Alaior roundabout to the Argentina and Rafal Rubi partly built constructions.
The Editor of Roqueta often places a notice saying “Keep Menorca Tidy” on its pages. GOB warns that it is necessary to change our mentality on the question of rubbish not only on land but that which gets thrown into the sea. In August, a turtle was saved at Biniguas from the nylon and plastic which engulfed it and was then released back into the sea. Turtles often eat plastic mistaking it for food such as medusas and there are many sea animals found with stomachs full of plastic. For GOB it is a problem causing concern as it is being seen much more often in recent times as the sea is converted into an uncontrolled rubbish dump all over the world, not just in the Mediterranean.
Miquel Camps, GOB Policy Officer
The Menorca Es Diari – newspaper