Minorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by U.N.E.S.C.O. in 1993, a distinction awarded to the islanders for their strong passion in preserving the islands natural facets, culture, fauna, wildlife and promoting a controlled and sustainable industrial and urban development.
Minorca witholds the last natural paradises best preserved in the whole Mediterranean.The island is a unique corner of natural environment due to the fact that the Minorcan inhabitants have learnt to keep, from the beginning, a balance of harmony with its natural surroundings. Thanks to this good relationship with its natural environment, Minorca was declared Reserve of the Biosphere in 1993 by the U.N.E.S.C.O. The island has a natural park, five natural Reserves, a marine reserve and nineteen ANEI zones (Natural Areas of Special Interest). The Reserve of the Biosphere is comprehended in three zones.
Its nucleus id the l’Albufera Natural Park at Es Grau, the d’en Colom island and Cape Favaritx as well as their area of influence.
The second zone is called the cushioning and is formed by the Natural Areas of Special Interest spreading roughly over a 40% of the island’s territory. These natural areas are the following:North coast of Ciutadella, La Vall, from Ets Alocs to Fornells, La Mola and s’Albufera of Fornells, Bellavista, from Addaia to s’Albufera, s’Albufera d’es Grau, from s’Albufera de La Mola, Cala Sant Esteve-Caló d’en rafalet, from Biniparratx to Llucalari, Son Bou and the Sa Vall Gorge, from Binigaus to Cala Mitjana, south coast of Ciutadella, Son Olivares, Camí de Baix (Degollador), Santa Agueda-s’Enclusa, El Toro and Peynes d’Egipte.
The third area is called the transition part and covers the rest of the island’s territory.
NATURAL PARK OF S’ALBUFERA
The Albufera Natural Park at Es Grau is the most interesting water-marsh area in Minorca. The lagoon is about 67,7 hectares full of spring water and nucleus of the Reserve of the Biosphere, separated from the sea by a sand barrier. This feature turns its aspect into an original landscape; its depth, an average 1,5 metres, and the earth coloured hills that surround it make it resemble more a lake than a coast line lagoon.
The west side offers the scene of Minorcan bred cows calmly grazing among an extension of floodable land called Es Prat. To the north-east, a dune formation, along which flows the canal which links the sea.
The Es Grau Albufera is an authentic paradise of those who love ornithology, as the winter season has reached the figure of over eleven thousand water birds and over a hundred different species. The most common are the Common Coot, the Royal Duck, the Common “Porron” and the Whistling Duck. It is also an important nesting area for the locally known “Zampullin Chico”, Water “Polla” and the activity of birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon, the vulture, the footed eagle and the kite.
These species share a natural habitat of wide variety, where we can come across different vegetation communities within the water areas. The banks of the lagoon grow plants rooted into the sediments, whilst their stems and leaves are above water level. The daily sinking sediment also grows thick bushes and magnificent tamarisk forests.
NORTHEN MARINE RESERVE
The Minorcan Northern Marine Reserve is a sea space with a great life diversity. The Reserve was created in 1999 with the aim of guaranteeing the preservation of marine species and the sustainable development of the area.
The Minorcan Northern Marine Reserve is a sea space with a great life diversity. The Reserve was created in 1999 with the aim of guaranteeing the preservation of marine species and the sustainable development of the area. The reserve reaches an extension of 5199 hectares of sea, the largest amongst the Balearic Islands; stretching from Fornells bay until Cape Gros including the Punta de Morter and the Porros island, where surprisingly goats live and survive there.
The area is very well preserved and outstands for the enormous natural interest and the beautiful landscapes. There is a special protected area between Cala Barril and Pta. De Mar. This area, of about forty metres deep, is of high biological importance for the reproduction and preservation of sea species such as the lobster or the sea bass.
The reserve often offers the nice surprise of witnessing the cormorants swimming, as well as fish species such as the hammer shark.
It is worth mentioning the reef barrier of posidonia at Sa nitja and the extending rocky areas where species like the red coral, shellfish and other crustaceous live.
On the other hand, the impressive Fornells bay offers a series of particular ecological characteristics, due to the important presence of marine phanerogamous communities, as well as sea weeds with rhizoid systems.
Recent studies have reached the count of 628 species of sea weed, fish and shellfish, as well as 35 different biological communities.