Menorca’s Biosphere: Celebrating 20 Years in 2013

How has two decades of Biosphere protection made a difference in Menorca?

What would you do to protect the home you love?
Can we do more than take a photo to perserve perfection in a lasting way?
What if the absence of development was the catalyst for prosperity?

This year marks the 20th Anniversary since Menorca was officially recognised as a biosphere reserve in 1993 by UNESCO. Two decades on we reflect on the significance for the island, as well as celebrate the different natural and cultural aspects that has earned Menorca this special title.

It is hard to imagine that some of Menorca’s most tranquil and picturesque natural landscapes were once considered for commercialization. Part of the charm of Menorca is the absence of overdevelopment and the separation of towns, tourist areas, untouched coast and countryside. But just a few short years before the title of ‘Biosphere Reserve’ was granted to the island, several development projects for popular natural areas were proposed. The Menorca we know and love was close to being lost forever.

The Proposed Urbanizations of Cala Macarella, Trebalúger and more…

25 years ago the national press in Spain reported on the proposed expansion for hotels and tourist urbanizations in Menorca. Most locals will remember the ‘Shangri-la’  project designated for the area of S’Albufera des Grau, or the estate of ‘El Perico’ that was projected to become the urbanization of Cala Macarella. Other areas considered for development were various farming estates on the island, in particular areas around the Barranc d’Aljandar behind Cala Galdana and Barranc de Trebalúger. Thankfully none of these projects went ahead and soon after Menorca became a Biosphere Reserve.  20 years later these areas remain in their natural state for everyone to enjoy year after year.

But the biosphere reserve status is not just a point of differation or a reason to visit the island, it also ensures the protection of natural ecosystems  and the preservation of culural hertiage which is exclusive to Menorca. The designation of marine and nature reserves has allowed native flora and fauna to prosper on the island, and restrictions on fishing and tourist seasons permits regeneration during the winter months of the year.

Pave paradise and put up a parking lot?

But sustainable growth in harmony with conservation is a ongoing issue affected by the evolution of Menorca’s industry and economy. The challenge in the future is to ensure that one does not exist at the cost of the other. To provide the best facilities and opportunitites within the towns and existing urbanizations, whilst continuing to preserve the traditions, architecture and unspoilt landscape that are unique to Menorca. Its important to remember that because of the biosphere status and the Menorcan people’s commitment enforcing it, this 20 year anniversary is a reason to celebrate and be proud of such an achievement! May there be many more decades to come!

Each month this year we are going to take a virtual tour to explore some of the special natural and cultural attributes of the Menorca’s Biosphere Reserve.
First stop next week will be the natural park of S’Albufera des Grau.

Here is a preview of a fantastic 30 minute program on ‘Menorca Reserve of Tranquility‘ from the series ‘Cities of the 21st Century‘ on TVE1 here in Spain.

Click on the link below to see the full program, no understanding of Spanish needed as the images speak for themselves. Highly recommended!
FULL SHOW HERE :  Menorca Reserva de La Tranquilidad

What do you think? Is it true that ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone?’ Leave your comment below and share your thoughts.

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