You can't read, write, or even imagine Ibiza's
history without the salt.
The relationship between the process of
the crystallisation from the seawater, its yearly harvest
and the Island of Ibiza, can be compared with Venice and its
And now Ses Salines of Ibiza and Formentera
are going through a process of historic change.
For the first time in modern history, there
is a real chance and the firm will of the Autonomic Government,
to give the area the qualification of "Parque Natural
Autonomico" (Natural Park), under the control of a new
law and the protection of the Autonomic Government.
The total area of the "Reserva Natural
del Estado Español (Natural Reserve), under the total
control and responsibility of the Spanish Minister of Environment
Mr Jaume Matas from the Central Government in Madrid, is the
future Park - around 11,000 Hectares in both Islands, including
the salt pans, the dunes, the lands, hills and forest and
all the littoral, the waters, islands and seabed of the channel
between Ibiza and Formentera.
The importance of Ses Salines for both Islands,
the relevance of the salt trade with the rest of the World,
is so much and so deep that you can't take them apart.
The Ecological and Natural qualities of
the entire area, its flora, fauna and the splendid beauty
of it, are no less important than the historical factuality
of the Occidental Mediterranean Ecosystem.
Ses Salines have special international relevance
and is at the top of the list as a very important humid area
(Ramsar) which is included in the European Union Nature Ned
Its flora is unique and in part exclusive
to the humid areas with a high content of salt (Alofíla
Vegetation) "Arthrocnemum fruticosum" "Arthrocnemum
glaucum" and "Inula crithmoides." These plants
live exclusively by the salt pans and along the channels surrounding
them. There is also the endemic plant "Ginesta d'Eivissa"
(Gracias Néstor, Sr. Maestro).
By the dunes, there are "Lotus citisoides,"
"Cakile maritima," "Ammophila arenaria,"
"Pancratium maritimum," "Crucianella maritima,"
"Juniperus phoenica," "Crithnum maritimum"
and "Limonium caprariense" amongst others, some
exclusive to the dunes by the beach.
Ses Salines have also been classified as
"Zona de Especial Protección para las Aves"
(ZEPA), a special zone for the protection of birds.
Flamingos "Phenicopterus ruber",
Herons "Egretta garzetta" and "Ardea cinerea",
and Ducks "Anas penelope," "Anas clipeata"
and "Aythia ferina" are among more then two dozen
birds that use the area to feed themselves and rest on their
yearly emigration trip to the South.
Locally, there are three species of seagulls
and two types of albatross. Several rapacious birds live in
the forest and cliffs, including owls and falcons. Five of
the "Calidris" family, "C. Alpina," "Charadrius
alexandrinus," "Scolopax rusticola" and "Himantopus
himantopus" are among a long list of others.
UNESCO has declared the seabed prairies
of "Posidonia" (Sea Grass) as a World Heritage Site.
Ses Salines is also a "ANEI" (Area
Natural de Especial Interes) Natural Area of Special Interest,
for the beauty of its landscape and its ecological qualities.
Finally, in 1999 UNESCO accepted the candidature
from Ibiza: Eivissa, Culture and Bio-diversity, and also declared
Ses Salines as a World Heritage Site.
Each one of these well-deserved titles also
means a good income from all these organisations, for their
own preservation. How much money do they get? Where does it
go? It will be interesting to find out. I promise to let you
know as soon as I can find out.
So, as we can see, the entire area, its
flora and fauna, has all the qualifications and rights to
be protected and pampered like a new-born child, or the "Parisian
Versailles Gardens". At least on paper.
But, unfortunately, the everyday realities
- the facts - are miles away from the truth.
This is why the nationalist political party
E.N.E. (Entesa Nacionalista i Ecologista) and all the Ecological
Groups of the Islands are saying that what Madrid is really
giving us - the people of Ibiza, is only a "Paper Park"
- nothing but papers.
Ses Salines, instead of being conducted
as a Natural Reserve, is rather exploited as a "Theme
Park" without having to build a "Disneyland."
The park is already there without need of
any decoration and there are quite a few local performers,
What we really can find nowadays inside
the Natural Reserve (where there used to be a splendid forest)
is an enormous parking lot, thousands of cars all over the
place every day, plus an all day bus service. This is something
like drying up Venice's "Gran Cannalle" just to
be able to have more visitors by car.
Hundreds of boats come to shore and anchor
in the reserved waters daily.
Ses Salines is one of the most visited and
crowded area of Ibiza, considering that there are no hotels
or housing developments and everybody needs transport to get
there. This is very good for their business, though that also
means the real degradation of all this wonderful nature.
In the salt pans and the channels by, what
we can see most is plastic bags, carton boxes, empty bottles,
cans, and tetra bricks, papers and disco flyers.
Down the beach of Ses Salines, hundreds
of beach chairs compete with the pedal-boats or what-ever-boats
to occupy the seashore. There are not enough containers for
all the rubbish. It is left on the ground; the wind and the
animals do the rest, so it is soon all over the place. Cleaning
has to be done daily with heavy machinery and the ecological
impact of it all should be considered.
By the East, "Es Cavallet" is
one of the best, genuine and untouched beaches of Ibiza, with
crystal clear waters and white sands made of billions of shells,
the largest and best dunes system of the Island, with exuberant
and exclusive vegetation, forming an extraordinarily beautiful
natural garden. Even so, rubbish has begun to accumulate in
the woods behind the beach, because some people have no respect
for the unique environment that they are in.
At the vertex point of both beaches, "Sa
Punta de s'es Portas", there is the magnificent, solid
and aesthetically pleasing tower called by the same name.
Maybe the "Rainbow Flag" should be also on top of
it, to make it a little bit more obvious (if this is possible)
in which district of the Theme Park you are.
This is how I see Ses Salines nowadays,
a big, big business, exploited as a "Natural Theme Park"
signalled by - not Ibiza's - but the "Rainbow Flag".
The Good News
The local ecological group "Amics de
la Terra-Eivissa" - one of the branches of "Friends
of the Earth International" - is developing a campaign
for compostaje in the Island of Formentera.
Composting is, without doubt, the best solution
for all the organic rubbish, the only way to give back to
the earth all the nutritive ingredients that it needs in a
It is also the first step for the proper
selection of the rest of the waste, so, the paper and cartons,
glass, metals and plastic, can be collected apart, clean and
ready to be send out of the Island and used again.
This is the first time that such experience
is being used in the "Pitiusas" and is working out
Two hundred and ten families, over fifteen
per cent of Formentera residents, have started to compost
their organic waste in this first campaign, started only three
To do so, "Amics de la Terra"
with the collaboration of the Island Council and the Formentera
Town Hall, has provided a hundred special composting containers
that are given free to the families. Each receptacle can serve
three or four families.
The programme has been organised by the
team of "Amics de la Terra-Eivissa" as usual with
the leadership of Hazel Morgan, its president. Manel Font
is the ecological engineer, responsible for showing all the
families how to make proper compost.
The same experts in Calvia (Mallorca) and
in Catalonia have already proved the success of this experience.
Let's hope that we can see it happening soon in Ibiza, too.
Congratulations to the Friends of the Earth
team. Thank you for the lovely and positive job you are doing.
Keep on rowing.
José P Ribas