Tag Archives: Sustainability

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.

New alliances for a productive countryside

GOB has signed an agreement with the Aland Foundation and the Association AIVelAL with the aim of giving support to the Land Stewardship Scheme and creating synergies with the action model of Landscape 4 Returns that is being promoted in various parts of the south east of the peninsula.

The three entities are agreed on the reading we make of the problems and the solutions we work on. We understand that both globally and locally we confront a grave problem of loss of soil fertility with its effects on agriculture. This situation feeds into other factors such as the need to adapt to climate change, the imperative to reduce greenhouse gases and to create a better coexistence with biodiversity.

The three entities also share a vision of agriculture as part of the solution. This means regenerative agriculture where the care of the soil is central, spaces for biodiversity are essential and where short chains of commercialization are promoted that revitalise the local economy.

The Land Stewardship Scheme will form part of the network of Landscape 4 Returns, an approach that seeks to restore agricultural management through four ways of action, or “returns” to use its terminology. The Natural Return that improves the soil, biodiversity and water management. The Economic Return that creates employment, professional networks and generates benefits. The Social Return that creates a better quality of life and welfare. The Inspiration Return that creates a reference community for other places with similar problems.

The Aland Foundation has been working since 2021 with the aim of catalysing initiatives for land regeneration through the model of Land 4 Returns. Their vision is of Iberian territory on which economy and ecology are aligned with regenerated countryside landscapes resilient to climate change. They want to promote a more energetic, active and professional world valued by an aware society and has the capacity to inspire others. The Foundation will help to find funding for the programme.

The AlVelAl Association was the first to become part of this network. Since 2015 it has been working in the regions of the Granada Plateau, Los Velez, Alto Almanzora, the north east of Murcia and Guadix all in the southeast of Spain. It is a local initiative that brings together agricultural and cattle farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers and people from different sectors of the population with the aim of restoring the country landscape of this area that is threatened by desertification, depopulation and lack of opportunities. The Association is committed to regenerative agriculture, the restoration of ecosystems and the creation of businesses that add value to local products and generate sustainable employment.

We at GOB celebrate the new collaboration that will improve aspects of advice, viability and knowledge of successful experiences in new farming networks. The Land Stewardship Scheme continues to enlarge its effectiveness and more and more producers and consumers are joining in.

To know more about the Land Stewardship Scheme we invite you to watch different videos that we have on our Youtube Channel

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.