Tag Archives: Sustainability

Positive Tourism (8) – Posidonia on the beaches

This is the latest announcement as part of the campaign for Positive Tourism that we have been publishing in the last few weeks on some parts of tourism that need to be managed in a different way.

On this occasion, the chosen theme is the presence of posidonia on beaches. It is of great value but even so is removed from the parts of the coastline with the most tourists.

This peculiar plant, that is colonising the sea, that makes flowers and can live thousands of years, is intrinsically linked with the formation of the beaches on our islands. Scientific studies estimate that most of the sand is made from organisms that reproduce in the posidonia meadows.

The debris that reaches the seashore helps to capture the sand moved with the wind to form dune systems. They are also important for curbing the effects of winter storms.

Posidonia captures large quantities of CO2, holding the carbon in its stems and releasing oxygen. It constitutes one of the richest ecosystems at animal level in our marine environment.

Scientific publications suggest that posidonia could be the longest living species of the biosphere. Samples taken from the waters of Formentera show them to be more than 100,000 years old.

However, it grows very slowly, so that it is vulnerable to human aggressive activity. In our environment, the indiscriminate anchoring of many boats, the discharge of poorly purified emissions, brine returned to the sea from desalination plants, and the disturbance of mud that clouds the waters caused by aggressive use of motorboat engines, are some of the causes of degradation that are being observed.

In the last few years, legal protection has progressed for this species that forms a habitat considered a priority at a European level. It is no longer removed from most of the natural beaches and now there are surveillance boats to stop anchoring over the posidonia meadows.

Yet, how surprising that the tourist industry still calls for its removal from urbanized beaches. With the knowledge we have of the outstanding contribution made by this marine plant, its presence should be valued. Posidonia is not dirt.

What is dirt is the massive presence of plastics that are a consequence of a production system generating an enormous quantity of non-biodegradable rubbish, which is left uncontrolled in the environment. Going to the root of this global problem by stopping buying from providers that do not evolve into using biodegradable materials ought to be a universal commitment and a general request should be heard from tourist spokespersons given that they represent the most powerful economic activity in the archipelago.

You can see other announcements for the tourism campaign by clicking here Positive tourism

Vegetables and fruit with the best ecological footprint

Fruit and vegetables produced on the Land Stewardship Farms have an ecological footprint of 66% less than the average of farms at state level. This fact is important because we all eat several times a day. Food is one of the principal activities taking up land at a global level. It is also a major emitter of greenhouse gases. Continue reading Vegetables and fruit with the best ecological footprint

Positive Tourism (4) – Tourist Rental Licence

Today’s announcement concerns the problem of housing for tourist rental.

Menorca has authorized 28,000 tourist rental places that occupy about 5,500 houses. The zoning approved by the island permits only the rental of homes to tourists that have a tourist licence and where the house is in an urbanization. They are not permitted in traditional nuclei nor in rustic areas (though this does not apply to homes with previously obtained licences.)

In any case, now all the Balearic Islands have approved a tourist moratorium that does not allow tourist growth in places for about another three and a half years. Therefore, new tourist rentals cannot be registered regardless of where the house is.

The reality is, when we consider the increase in quantity of people here in the summer, about 35,000 people are found staying in houses undeclared for tourists. This is equivalent to 7,000 more houses, which added to the 5,500 legalized houses, means 12.500 houses used by tourists.

That is why illegal tourist rental is very much linked to the tourist overcrowding that Menorca has been suffering in the last few years, and also with the lack of available housing for residents. When all housing is made available to tourists, or the equivalent holiday prices are demanded for residential rental all the year round, a problem is generated which becomes very significant.

This year, there has been an increase in the tourist inspection body, with the objective of imposing fines against this new phenomenon. It is also being managed at a European level so that digital platforms that offer unlicensed tourist apartments can be pursued on legal grounds.

In the simile of the tourist campaign that GOB has been making in the last few weeks, it has shown up other problems that, in our opinion, should be made known to tourists to help reverse them. Now, when looking for accommodation, tourists should ask if it is available with a tourist licence.

A new farm incorporated into the Land Stewardship Scheme

Parella Vella is the latest farm that has committed to the sustainable development of its agricultural and livestock activities respecting the natural environment to be incorporated into the network of farms within the Land Stewardship Scheme.

Located to the south of Ciutadella, the farm of about 12 hectares in area is managed by the brothers Dani and Isaac for a varied produce with ecological certification. Producing organic vegetables and fruit is the main activity but not the only one. It also has extensive cattle farming that includes 6 Menorcan cows. This allows for the rotation of the land and its fertilization, and being able to offer the resulting meat for sale. Seeding is done for the cattle to forage.

The countryside is at the mercy of the weather and Parella Vella was one of the estates affected by the heavy rains of August and September in 2022. During this period of storms nearly all the cultivated produce and various infrastructures, such as the greenhouses that allow time for some products to have a longer season, were lost.

After this disaster, it was necessary to reorganise and relaunch all the produce, which is not an easy task but important to maintain the activity. Being part of the Land Stewardship Scheme they gained support and encouragement for the recovery of the farm and establishing lines of work, such as, for example, enlarging areas of flowers favoured by pollinators so increasing the farm productivity.

The commercialisation of its produce is made by direct selling such as the weekly delivery of baskets to private buyers of produce made together with two other farms, or at the Ciutadella Farmers Market with another farm. Their products can be found in some shops or used by school canteens in Ciutadella.

The programme of the Land Stewardship Scheme contributes to the economic viability of agriculture and the conservation of the natural values of the Menorcan landscape. With the addition of Parella Vella to the network, there are now 37 professional farms committed to sustainable farming practices.

For an overview of the Land Stewardship Scheme, watch this short video. This others videos show in more detail the activities carried out as a result of the Scheme.

An unfavourable report on the reduction of marine protection of the Isla del Aire

The Balearic Ministry for Environment and Land has requested the General Directorate of Fisheries and Marine Environment that they recover, with urgency, the original area of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire.

GOB has obtained access to various documents that are evidence of the adverse reactions and discomfort of different bodies and administrations relating to the removal of the 22% protection imposed by the Balearic Ministry of Fisheries and Food.

At the beginning of this month, a scientific study was published in which it was clear the enormous potential for the recovery of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire, and showed how some areas with the best signs of regeneration had been those that are now unprotected. This provoked the Island Governing Council to show its disapproval and ask that the law be rectified.

We now know that the Planning Service of the Natural Environment, a service over seeing the management of the LICs (Places of Special Interest) and ZEPAs (Areas of special conservation) of the Nature Network 2000, sent an UNFAVOURABLE report on the lack of protection, showing how the modification to the law affects 87 hectares of Habitats of General Interest. The report from this body, which depends on the Balearic Ministry for Environment and Land, ends up by proposing that the said decree is rectified urgently so that the zoning of the reserve is recovered to its original state.

GOB reminds us that the objectives set by the European Union and the United Nations are aimed at ensuring that by 2030 10% of the marine surface will be strictly protected and, on this subject, Menorca fails with only 0.31% or 0.35% after the protection was reduced in the Special Diving Area of the Illa de l’Aire.

For these reasons, it is requested, publicly, that the Ministry of Fisheries and Food of the Balearic Government amends the decree and returns to protect the area of the Illa de l’Aire that it unprotected some months ago without the support of any technical report.

The Law of Rights for future generations approved

For the first time, the Balearic Islands Parliament has approved a law as the result of popular demand and with a pioneering proposal: to guarantee the welfare of current and future generations.

Last week a new landmark was reached for the environmental claims of the Islands. The Parliament passed a law, proposed by an associative network, that must take care of the welfare of present and future generations. That is to say, a law that guarantees policies made today will take into account how they can affect the welfare of generations to come.

A legislative text was generated through the mechanism of the People’s Legislative Initiative, which is one that is presented from outside Parliament because of a public initiative. A campaign, led by GOB but in which many associations and individuals participated, received prior support from 12,000 signatures and the concurrence of organizations throughout the Islands and the State.

The new law provides for the creation of a Commission that will be appointed by Parliament and include experts from many fields: education; investigation and innovation; agro ecology and food sovereignty; environment and biodiversity; mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis; social justice; economy model; urbanisation; territory and countryside; water and energy resources; equality and gender politics; immigration; infants and youth; and public health.

The functions of the Commission are, in part, to issue evaluation resolutions on the intergenerational impact assessment reports prepared by public institutions on the procedures for drafting regulations, budget laws, territorial and sectorial plans, projects over 5 million euros or those declared of special interest. Other functions are to advise and train public bodies that ask for help on evaluating the long-term impact of their actions.

This approach to intergenerational justice is a pioneer for Spain and gives new hope for improving sustainability in reality, not just theoretical, in public politics. It is expected to be a new useful resource making life central, at a moment when our societies confront growing inequalities and environmental risks without precedent.

GOB is grateful for the collaboration of people and companies that have shown a broad support for this popular legislative initiative, which is also the first to be approved in the Islands democratically in the 40 years under the Statute of Autonomy.

Thanks are also given for the availability found within the progressive parliamentary majority, the Ministry of the Presidency and the Legal Profession of the Autonomous Community that have allowed us to work together on the amendments presented to improve the law. On the 28 March, favourable votes were made by the PSOE, Unidas Podem, Mes for Mallorca and Mes for Menorca. The rest of Parliament voted against.