Water is precious
Let's face it: the Balearic Islands moan under the impact of tourism. 13.8 million people visited the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera in 2018. Unfortunately, almost all come at the same time, namely during the summer months. They want to take a shower, preferably 2 times a day, swim in the fresh water pool, rent a clean car, and play golf on a green lawn. It rarely rains, the water consumption is enormous. In the high summer months, the islands are supplied with water from tankers. It does not help much, if in the hotels the friendly note is designed to order fresh towels only if it is necessary.
That's why an important approach to relieving the islands is #betterinwinter. This campaign specifically promotes the visit of the islands in winter. I have been doing this for years, but for the sake of self-interest: I love Ibiza in winter, when the beaches are empty, the places radiate tranquility and nature breathes. When the scorching summer heat follows cool nights and fresh, sunny days in the most beautiful light.
Walks in the morning dew with all the wonderful smells of herbs, resins and conifers, bike rides through Es Amunts, feasting in small restaurants along the way now the guest especially welcome and welcome. Breathe the fresh gout in the bay of Benirras or read a book in the lee of the rocks in the Cala Xarraca. For me, there is nothing more relaxing than the Balearic Islands in autumn, winter or spring. #betterinwinter is exactly my thing. Incidentally, the campaign arrives particularly well at Germans, Icelanders and Dutch. They are environmentally aware and appreciate the mild temperatures, which in winter sometimes go up to 20 degrees, explains Carlos Bernús, the head of tourism of Formentera.
Ses Figueretes, a coastal strip for the citizens of Ibiza
Water shortage is also an issue in Ibiza and there are some good ways to protect resources. Thus, the island administration has renewed the infrastructure on the beach promenade of Ses Figueretes in Ibiza town, separating sewage and rainwater. The so-called "gray water", ie rainwater, is returned to the water cycle.
The area for pedestrians was enlarged, sports equipment and plantings were installed and everything was made easily accessible. On the tarmac there is a guide to the blind and a disabled access to the sea including swimming aid (amphibious wheelchair) for wheelchair users. The nice thing about it: Ses Figueretes is one of those neighborhoods in Ibiza Town where many locals live. Their quality of life was thus significantly improved.
Ibiza: new promenade for San Antonio
Less convincing, I think the planned expansion of the Bay of San Antonio for about 20 million euros. San Antonio is Ibiza's ballerina, the place to be celebrated until the doctor arrives, where drunken Englishmen plunge from the balcony into the pool, where barely a shop, a bar or a restaurant owner speaks Spanish.
Part of the bay is still made of natural stone today. This should now be converted to a promenade. If the money was not better invested in a waste separation plant or in a modern sewage treatment plant, I wonder. The old sewage treatment plant is in fact totally dilapidated, admits Elena López from the island council of Ibiza. After all, a new one is under construction, but when it is ready, one can not foresee.
Seagrass under protection: it produces oxygen and binds CO2
I think the project to protect the Posidonia Oceanica is great . Seagrass is one of the major sources of oxygen for coastal waters. It produces around 14 to 20 liters of oxygen per square meter every day in the Mediterranean. But that's not all: a Danish team of scientists has discovered that a one-hectare seagrass meadow is capable of storing the same amount of carbon dioxide as a 10-hectare wooded area. Overall, their CO2 storage capacity even exceeds that of mangrove forests.
For tourists, the seagrass is rather unpopular, especially if it drives to the beach. That's why it has been rigorously removed and disposed of in the last 60 years. This is now over, for a good reason: even if it is already brown and moldy on the beach, it still serves the ecosystem: in winter it keeps the strong surf in check and protects the beach from being worn away. With the law for the protection of the seagrass meadows it may be recently removed only local limited and controlled. Seagrass sites have been mapped and yachts are no longer allowed to anchor there. The law applies to all Balearic Islands.
I find quite impressive what Posidonia can do and will not pull a long face in the future when I see the brown decaying leaves on the beach. For me, the seagrass has undergone an image change: no more annoying accessories, but Klimaretter.
On Formentera, Carlos Bernús Blanch, Director of Tourism Promotion, puts a sticker in my hand "Save Posidonia Project". Seagrass, says Bernús, produces as much oxygen as it breathes on Ibiza and Formentera. Ask yourself only at what time of year, but in the summer much more breathed in the Balearic Islands.
Not only does Carlos talk lightning fast, he also likes quick decisions. And because Formentera is a small island, here are the decisions for which you wind down for years elsewhere. For example, the car fleet: by January 2020, it should consist of 100% electric cars or hybrid vehicles. The charging of energy for e-vehicles is free on Formentera. Tax exemption gives additional incentives to opt for electric mobility. Formentera has - one hears and marvels - Europe's largest density of electric charging stations. What? Can this be? Carlos winks. Yes, really true. Based on the number of inhabitants and the square meters. The island is 83 square meters small and has about 13,000 inhabitants.
The number of cars with internal combustion engine, which may come over by ferry, is now also limited. Electric cars are always allowed to drive. These are all good approaches on a small island. How to set signs, I think. Similar to Costa Rica , this small country in Central America, I am amazed how much alone the will to change can cause. Incidentally, Costa Rica is now CO2 neutral.
Who is the most sustainable in the country?
I think that this will to change is what really matters. Not everyone sees it that way. During a press conference on sustainability in Majorca, a German colleague abruptly interrupts the lecture on sustainability and asks with the charm of a Prussian general: Why only now? Why are you starting with the changes now? Embarrassing German, full on the ten, I think. And that with our own lousy carbon footprint. The CO2 footprint is almost twice as high as the average of the G20 countries. And let's face it: how far are we with electric mobility? No reason to play the wild man.
My conclusion is: sustainability is not everywhere where sustainability is on it. Neither in Germany nor in the Balearic Islands. The important thing is: something is moving. And every little step in the direction of nature and resource conservation, sustainability and environmental awareness is a great and long overdue step for all of us.