Menorca island

Menorca, biosphere reserve

UNESCO declared Menorca a biosphere reserve on the 7th of October, 1993, taking into account the high level of compatibility between the development of economic activities, the consumption of resources, and the conservation of heritage and landscapes that it had preserved, and still does today at an exceptional level. Menorca is an intensely humanized territory, with an extremely rich tradition of rural landscapes. It is home to a remarkable diversity of Mediterranean habitats, where there are plant and animal species exclusive to the Island, some of which are in danger of extinction.

Albufera des Grau

Menorca biosphere reserve basic data:

Biogeographic region:
Western Mediterranean

Autonomous Community:
Balearic Islands.

Alaior, es Castell, Ciutadella, Ferreries, Maó, es Mercadal, es Migjorn Gran, Sant Lluís

Governing body:
Consell Insular de Menorca (Island Council of Menorca).

Declaration date:
8th October 1993

Widening date:
29th October 2004

71.186 ha
Core zone:
7 %
Buffer zones:
38 %
Transition zones:
55 %
See zone map

Around the world, there are more than 400 biosphere reserves that experiment with the concept of sustainable development. They are places where human activity is carried out compatibly with the conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage. Menorca is part of the Spanish Network of Biosphere Reserves and is in constant contact with other biosphere reserves that make up UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program. The Biosphere Reserve of Menorca has as its sister reserve the one found in Lanzarote (Canary Islands).

With an approximate surface area of 700km2 and 200km of coastline, Menorca is divided into eight administrative municipalities and has a censused population of 94,875 from the year 2011. The prevalence of tourism, which in recent decades has become the island's primary economic resource, explains the pronounced seasonality of human pressure, as at times the island plays host to as many as 160,000 people.

Menorca is the most northern and eastern of the Balearic Islands. It is also the rainiest, with nearly 600mm of rain per year, and is often battered by persistent winds. With its elongated and and slightly rectangular shape, it spans nearly 53km from east to west and lacks any high elevation mountains. Its highest point is only 358m (el Toro).

The Consell Insular de Menorca, responsible governing body of the reserve, has opted for sustainability, so that future generations that reside on the island may continue to enjoy to the fullest the natural resources and beautiful landscapes that are present today. For this reason, any actions carried out within the territory must be well thought out, so as to preserve the quality of life and environmental values, which have allowed for its declaration as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, for many generations to come. These are our goals as a biosphere reserve:
  • Support the preservation of activities that maintain traditional landscapes and avoid those which may be to their detriment. The Pla Territorial Insular (Insular Territory Planning), or PTI, has been approved to this end. It classifies territories with hopes of safeguarding sustainability and regulates urban expansion. Proper agro-environmental practices are also encouraged through the Contracte Agrari de la Reserva de Biosfera (Agricultural Contract of the Biosphere Reserve).
  • To substantiate the preservation of natural ecosystems including their indigenous species of flora and fauna. To this end, campaigns have been developed for the eradication of invasive species of flora and for the active protection of threatened species as well as unique habitats, like temporary ponds, and projects for environmental restoration are carried out.
  • Increase the level of knowledge regarding natural and cultural resources. Research and investigation of natural and archeological heritage is done to this end.
  • Define strategies for sustainability at a local level. Each municipality has its own Agenda Local 21 (Local Agenda 21) and Pla d'Acció Ambiental (Plan for Environmental Activity).
  • Manage environmental issues related to the coastline and beaches, which are the foundation of tourist activity, especially through the protection of dune and marine ecosystems.
  • Minimize environmental impact caused by everyday human activity. Waste materials are separated and treated depending on their classification: organic, refuse, paper, glass, or packaging.
  • Develop an outdoor sustainability laboratory. Hence, the Observatori Socioambiental de Menorca (OBSAM, or Socioenvironmental Observatory of Menorca) has been created. It gathers and analyses information relevant to the biosphere reserve.
With the collaboration of Menorcan society, several NGOs, and other private companies from the island, we have sought out strategies to conserve the island's natural and cultural heritage. However, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done to fulfill our goals, and we especially need the support of visitors to the island, as only together can we create a form of development that truly respects the environment.

Agència Menorca Reserva de Biosfera - Departament de Medi Ambient i Reserva de Biosfera - Consell Insular de Menorca
Plaça Biosfera, 5 / 07703 Maó (Menorca) Illes Balears / Tel: 971 35 62 51
Reserva Biosfera