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What makes Menorca so different from other islands?
That Menorca is magical and highly attractive to many travelers who choose to come to discover it or return to enjoy it is a fact, and that 9 out of 10 people who explore its corners and discover its great historical and natural legacy end up falling in love with it, is a reality. But, how can this love at first sight happen? Menorca is as it is today due to a set of circumstances that have led it to maintain its essence and the personality that characterizes it. Whether by chance or not, what is undeniable is the effort and sensitivity of the entire society to preserve its roots.

Menorca is a protected island, and not by chance. Behind this reality, there is a great effort from professionals and a whole society that has known how to put things in their place. And although it could have been worse, Menorca continues to preserve its essence despite its transformation in the last 20 years. If you talk to any Menorcan, they will tell you that the island has changed a lot in a short time. Evolution is vital, but it can be lethal if not done orderly and coherently. Menorca is different from its sister islands, among other reasons, because it has known how to react in time to this uncontrolled evolution known as mass tourism.

Here in Menorca, tourism arrived almost two decades later, and it shows, being one of the main reasons why Menorca is still so different from the rest of the Mediterranean islands. Due to this great transformation in such a short time, measures and decisions were taken in Menorca so that today, these transformations in the territory, and consequently in a whole society and culture, are largely limited. The zoning of Menorca, both the marine and terrestrial areas, defines the zones that can be exploited and those that cannot, and a large part of the island is under some form of protection. But it was not always like this, Menorca was in the sights of builders and architects, there were major urban development projects around practically all the coast of the island. Projects that ultimately did not prosper (some did), thanks to the reaction and fight of the society and Menorcan organizations.

The fruits of this tireless fight are transcendental: in 1993 Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. This is not a protective figure but a recognition for the balance of how a society has evolved creating the least impact on its natural environment, in addition to how the vestiges of the different cultures that inhabited or left their mark on the island have been preserved, and especially how all this has given personality and character to a society that today remains authentic. Since this recognition, the island has been integrated into programs and laws have been created where it is protected, and from where territorial plans are focused for land management and urban delineation against the conservation of natural spaces.

The declaration of Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993, a figure around which the conservation of the identity of the Menorcan people revolves today, was the beginning. Then, the Natural Park of s’Albufera des Grau was declared in 1995, expanded in 2003 to include the marine area. Menorca was integrated into the European Natura 2000 network, a figure aimed at preserving natural spaces, flora, and fauna (ZECS and ZEPA networks), and in the same year, the Special Plan for Camí de Cavalls was approved, aimed at determining and consolidating the physical and essential characteristics of the path, a historical path that crosses the different spaces and natural landscapes of the island. In 2001, the Protected Oak Forests law was approved at the Balearic level, and in 1991, the law on ANEI spaces, Acronyms for Natural Spaces of Special Interest, was approved, working to preserve and manage fragile natural spaces within the Biosphere Reserve context.

This is on land, but since 1999 efforts have also been made to conserve the marine environment. The declaration of Marine Reserves aims to identify, protect, conserve, and regenerate the great biodiversity of the sea. The Northern Marine Reserve with more than 5,000 ha declared in 1999 or The Illa de l’Aire Marine Reserve of about 720 ha recognized during this year 2019, has made Menorca today the largest marine reserve in the Mediterranean. These are figures that protect the great natural heritage, both marine and terrestrial. Behind them are organizations and people who fought and fight every day because the conservation of Menorca is the main priority. One of the foundations of our discourse is to explore without disturbing, discover without altering, and raise awareness. When asked what makes Menorca so different from other islands, we explain how it was and could have been if not for the tireless fight of an entire society, and the importance of continuing to contribute to a cultural, natural, alternative, and sustainable model. Showing the importance of practicing responsible tourism, traveling ethically, in balance, and without endangering Menorca's heritage. Our guides get goosebumps every time we convey this message to the excursionists, and they themselves are moved when discovering the great work that an entire society has been doing for decades for its territory, its nature, and its culture.


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