But some may not know that this island is more than a pretty face, so to speak. Since 1993, Menorca’s well-preserved and diverse environment has been recognised as a Biosphere Reserve – a designation that makes this singular island even more special.
What is a Biosphere Reserve?
A biosphere reserve is a title given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in order to protect and preserve ecosystems of outstanding biodiversity as well as promote solutions for their sustainable use. In this way, they are somewhat like ‘living laboratories’, says UNESCO. Today there are over 500 reserves in over 100 countries.
Why is Menorca a Biosphere Reserve?
A large part of the reason Menorca earned the designation is its wide variety of ecosystems and habitats. On this tiny island of just 271 square miles, you’ll find beaches, dunes, ravines, wetlands, ravines, caves, and isles – all of which support a stunning diversity of flora and fauna. From the lagoons of S’Albufera Natural Park to the rocky Algendar Gorge, local and migrant species abound and flourish.
What Does the Biosphere Do?
Unfortunately, such biodiversity can be highly fragile in places where tourism is so popular. The biosphere designation simultaneously recognises, celebrates, and protects Menorca’s vibrant plants, animals, and natural landscapes.
Specifically, the designation limits the development of high-rise buildings; imposes strict regulations on any new construction; protects certain areas of the island from farming and fishing; and sets aside two-thirds of the coastline as a protected zone for birds.
In 2004, Menorca’s biosphere reserve status was updated to include protection of prehistoric sites (such as those built by the Talaiotic peoples), heritage buildings, and military forts from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Looking ahead into the future, Menorca’s status as a reserve ensures that the island will remain as we know it now: vibrant, diverse, enchanting, and full of surprises.