Menorca, Biosphere Reserve

What does the declaration of the island’s land and maritime territory as a Biosphere Reserve imply? A guarantee for the balance and harmony between human beings and the environment to guide Menorca’s future.

Sustainability is a concept that could be synonymous with Menorca. The relationship between man and nature has been a constant in the history of the island. Despite being quite limited in size and having always been highly humanized, it stands out for being fairly well preserved at the same time.

This model of sustainable development is based on an exemplary balance between human beings and the biosphere. It preserves the harmony of the environment with socio-economic development and the historical, artistic and cultural heritage.

UNESCO recognized that in 1993: the entire terrestrial territory of the island was declared as a Biosphere Reserve, with different degrees of protection. Likewise, the marine waters that surround Menorca up to twelve nautical miles from the coast were also designated as a Biosphere Reserve by the international body, according to the latest extension dating from 2019.

Les tradicionals casetes de vorera són exemple de patrimoni cultural i històric de Menorca.
Traditional ‘casetes de vorera’ are example of Menorca’s cultural and historic heritage.

The Reserve’s ground zero

The Biosphere Reserve as a protection figure includes a three levels scale to designate the island’s various geographical areas. The maximum preservation corresponds to the core areas, which would be a kind of Reserve’s ground zero.

From a land point of view, the core area is delimited by the boundaries of the Parc Natural de S’Albufera des Grau. From the maritime perspective, the core areas correspond to the Reserva Marina de la Costa Nord (between Cap Gros and Punta des Morter) and with the coast that precisely laps the natural park (between Punta de Sa Galera and Illes d’Addaia).

Within these geographic spaces, the highest priority is preserving biological diversity and ecosystems. Thus, only activities related to research and some exploitation that are traditional and in symbiosis with the environment can be carried out.

Albufera des Grau.
Albufera des Grau.

Buffer zones and transition areas

Beyond the core areas, Menorca places a good part of its land territory under an intermediate degree of protection. Known as a buffer zone, it overlaps Natural Areas of Special Interest, the Natura 2000 Network and other natural protection elements. This figure also includes the rest of the marine waters that surround the island, with the only exceptions of Maó and Ciutadella ports. In all these areas, compatibility is established between use and conservation.

Most of the human activity is confined to the transition areas, which are home to urbanized centers, certain agricultural spaces and areas of port influence.

El senderisme és una activitat alineada amb els valors de la Reserva de Biosfera i contribueixen a protegir els senders ancestrals (Foto: Jordi Saragossa).
Hiking is an activitiy aligned with the Biosphere Reserve principles and it helps to protect ancestral paths (Photo: Jordi Saragossa).

Far beyond protection

The declaration recognizes how respectful Menorcans are of the island and of its landscapes preservation, and it is a guarantee of sustainable development. Under the protection of the Biosphere Reserve, Menorca has followed a path committed to these values ​​and has launched a large number of initiatives.

With sustainability and responsibility as the backbone, the Menorca Biosphere Reserve agency works in five main areas: environment, social welfare, tourism, culture and economy. Depending on each of these pillars, there are numerous projects that make the island walk in the desired direction.

Menant ses vaques.
Leading the cattle through Menorcan landscapes, which are well preserved despite being highly humanized.

Menorca 360º, aligned with the Reserve

With Menorca 360º, we fully identify with the idea of ​​the island’s sustainable development and its values ​​that the Biosphere Reserve promulgates. Ours is a project that is defined as respectful of the environment and with the traditional activities of land use, as well as with its rich historical and cultural heritage.

Through Menorca 360º programs, participants can tour the island by walking, biking or paddling at their own pace, and experience first-hand this harmony between man and the ecosystems, without altering its natural course. To get to know the most authentic Menorca up close.

Mapa de zonificació de la Reserva de Biosfera, amb les zones nucli (vermell i blau fosc), zones de transició (verd i blau marí) i zones d'amortiment (gris i blau cel).
Zonation map of the Biosphere Reserve, with the core areas (red and dark blue), buffer zones (green and medium blue) and transition areas (grey and light blue) (Photo: IDE Menorca).
El típic paisatge de mosaic caracteritza la Menorca rural d'interior.
Mosaic landscape, typical for inland rural Menorca.