The Islands of Ibiza and Formentera have
been blessed by Mother Nature, providing them with a great
variety of life displayed in a wonderful scenery and almost
the best climatic conditions (we could do with a bit more
It offers both inhabitants and visitors
a real feeling of authentic quality of life, peace and harmony.
There is not another natural green spot
like these little islands in Southern Europe and all the Mediterranean.
Ask people who have been travelling in the same latitudes
in mainland Spain, the South of Italy, Turkey or the Greek
Islands. They know what we are talking about.
The Flora of the islands contains about
1,500 species of plants. Between 900 and 1,000 are autochthonous,
some are endemic and the rest have adapted in the last centuries.
This number is one of the largest percentages in the world,
just below that of the tropical jungles and over 45% of all
the species in the UK.
Botanical researchers from many countries
have been to the islands to study this phenomenal variety.
Some of these plants ("tangsi gargarea", "aloe
vera", among others) are now being exported to several
countries, including China and South Africa, to produce new
medicines and beauty products.
There is also a very good local team of
scientific advisers working on a new catalogue, the "Nova
Encyclopaedia de les Illes Balears."
In future editions I hope to pass on the
knowledge of these botanical experts to guide us through this
amazing world of plants.
The local Fauna seems to be in harmony with
the size of the islands.
There are no big autochthonous terrestrial
mammals or reptiles. In fact, all the earliest fossils found
on land are sea creatures. The first mammal fossil bones that
we know of belong to a type of marsupial bat that became endemic
for a few millions years. There are also remains of three
or four endemic species of rats and mice. Some saurian reptile
fossils (lizards and geckos) have also been classified. But
there is no evidence of Ophidians or terrestrial-turtles.
The largest fossil skeleton found belongs
to an eagle, larger then any living eagle nowadays in Europe
(it was shown in Sant Antonio last winter, together with other
bones of several birds also extinguished, in an exhibition
called a "Natural History of the Balearic Islands").
There are more species of birds then any
other kind of animal, apart from insects. Amateur naturalists
have classified some new specimens of insects in recent years,
and they say that there is a long job to do with quite a few
waiting to be classified. (If you find a new one, you can
call it after your own name or your best friend's or worst
enemy's, as you wish).
All the rapacious birds on the Islands are
now protected. There are about a dozen, as well as one type
of albatross, known locally as "Virot."
The last colony in the World of this autochthonous
bird ("Puphinus Mauretanicus") survives in Formentera
and the little islands around. We also have a lot of tourist
birds coming to visit us on their way to Africa, like flamingos,
starlings, thrushes and herons. Some, such as the blackbird,
have decided to stay with us all year round and have become
a real pest for the local farmers.
This spring, the leaders of the co-operatives
went to the local government for help, as it is forbidden
to kill them. They blame the blackbirds for eating all the
fresh fruit from the trees.
Personally I like their saxo-jazz melodies,
the way they sing, but I understand the farmers' point of
view. Perhaps we should recognise the big amount of insects
they also eat and of the amount of good the blackbirds do,
or can do. Even so, if there is a good solution for all, it
should be found. Any ideas are welcome.
Practically all the mammals of the islands
came with settlers, including rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs,
donkeys, genets, ferrets, martens, hedgehogs, dogs and cats.
There is a lot to say about them all, as
there is a lot to say about the birds and the Flora. We have
not mentioned yet the Fauna of the sea coast and closer waters.
We will be back on them all regularly.
I want to speak about Nature in general
and of the ecological problems. I cannot be - or even try
to be - too profound, but will try to answer all your questions
in the most honest and wise way I can. (And I can... with
a little help from my friends).
I especially want to inform readers of the
local ecology and today's problems. I will interview the experts
- and the politicians - to see and understand the Spanish
and local laws about the environment. Together we will discover
the different areas of Ibiza, the different ecosystems there
are, the amount of different grades of protection they have,
the present and the perspectives in short terms.
We have to speak about the water supply:
what are the true needs? What is the waste?
The increase of artificial beaches and the
damage that this extra amount of sand does to the seashore
Energy, consumerism, the cost of living,
traffic, pollution and the demands of tourism.
The alternatives. The new technologies.
The Eco-tax. Can we just keep building?
And any other problem or news that may come
The Good News
The good news is the opening last Sunday
(10th June 2001) of ECOLANDIA; a new centre dedicated to all
kinds of activities to do with Ecology.
In this large park, you can find a good
selection of natural, local products, marmalades, honey, wines
and liqueurs, bread, cheese, herbs, cakes, dry and fresh fruit,
perfumes etc., handmade artisan goods, clothes, silver. There
is a little snack bar with vegetarian food.
There's an information office where you
can find out anything to do with the local environment and
Nature in general. Visitors can bring their organic waste
from home to produce compost, which will be used in the park
gardens where there is plenty of room for children to play.
School children will visit the centre to
learn the first steps on natural disciplines and proper behaviour
towards the environment.
Ambitious plans of ecological work are almost
ready to be put into action.
Chris Dews is the director and the creator
of the Eco Park. He is one of the pioneers of the local ecological
groups. In 1990 he and a few friends founded "Amigos
de la Tierra-Ibiza" and became the first president of
the organisation. Since then, he has not stopped working for
the Nature of the island. I want to express my respects to
Chris, to all the team that works with him and to the Gaspar
family (the owners of the finca)
To all of you I say thank you for the great
job you are doing. Ibiza is in debt to you.
Ecolandia is on the Ibiza-Sant Antoni road,
Km. 8.500, finca "Can Gaspar de Sant Rafel"
There is a bus stop nearby and ample parking.
Good luck and long life to Ecolandia.
José P Ribas