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THE ELECTRONIC LIVEIBIZA

Weekly Edition 060: Saturday 20th April 2002

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Island Ecology
by José P Ribas

 
GEN-GOB: Twenty Years of Ecological Action
 

The "Grup d'Estudi de sa Naturalesa" (GEN) has successfully survived for its twentieth anniversary (Congratulations!) which is a very long life, considering the extraordinary power of the opponents (Money, money, money, money...).

You must also consider the total absence of ecological and protective laws really effective for the local environment in those days.

And don't forget the amount of personal insults and other harder difficulties that the members of the group have had to face and overcome for its survival.

They always had the sympathy and support of a great majority of the people of the Pitiusas Islands, which helped guarantee its necessary survival. And - hopefully - it will keep on guaranteeing its existence for as long as the great of the capital continue to possess and exploit the entire Island as if it was their own casino.

The corrupted complicity of some of our politicians makes it necessary, for the preservation within the legality of our still beautiful natural values and our own cultural identity.   

But GEN is much more then just a hammer for guilty consciences and a brake for uncontrolled egoistic and destructive ambitions because it also has a much more pleasant side. This is the task that GEN has been doing all these years with the young people of the Islands: teaching them the little secrets and the values of Nature, helping the new generations to develop love and respect for the environment and self-respect for our culture.

In fact, if it weren’t for GEN, and later some other N.G.O., environmental education would be practically non-existent in our Islands. The people of Eivissa and Formentera know well the amount of work and effort that GEN's members do for free for our youngsters and for the ecological legality, therefore they are respected and supported by most.

GEN has been the embryo of relevant progressive politicians and the founders of the "Green" political party on the Balearics. It has also helped to form a new generation of botanical, biological, and environmental engineers, most of them members of the group at present, working in scientific ways on a new catalogue of our Flora and Fauna and collaborating to find the solutions for our chronic environmental problems.       

This local "Non-Governmental Organisation" (N.G.O.) has its roots in the beginning of the 1970s, when plans for building a macro-urbanisation in "Ses Salinas" of Eivissa, with hotels, apartments, shops, clubs, exclusive marina and private areas, were presented by the owners, "Salinera Española. S.A.", in Sant Josép's Town Hall, to which this unique and beautiful area belongs. Then a group of local people (botanicals, intellectuals, artists, architects, professors and some visionaries) got together to found a platform that in 1977 became officially "Comissio per la defense de Ses Salinas" under the slogan "Salvem Ses Salinas" (Let's save Ses Salinas).

It declared on local radio and in newspapers the extraordinary importance of "Ses Salinas" of Eivissa and Formentera, the necessity of keeping them as a natural reserve for the autochthonous Flora and Fauna, as a refuge for many kinds of emigration birds and for wildlife in general.

They pointed out that it was one of the most significant wet areas of the Occidental part of the Mediterranean Sea and reminded everyone of the enormous meaning of the salt flats industry in the Island's history. They highlighted the traditions, the historical rights of the Islanders and the joy for our future visitors.

From the very beginning, the motto "Let's save Ses Salinas" had a large popular acceptance. In 1978, the platform organised a rally with this motto and 4,000 (mostly young) people participated.

Then in 1982 a couple of dozen of these youngsters, fans of Nature, and some of the veterans from the platform, founded the group "GEN" (Group d'Estudis de sa Naturalesa), with the journalist Antonio Pedro Marí as the first president.

The objectives of the new-born group were basically the same as the old platform: to study and protect our Nature and History, to work against the natural destruction of the Islands, to develop new and more protective laws for the environment, for the ecological legality, and to start programmes for environmental education with the schools.

In 1983 GEN started its first protest campaign, in this case the "irregular" construction of two blocks of apartments, already being built, on the beach of "Es Codolar" (Sant Josép).

In 1984 GEN began a radio program "De la Terra i de la Mar" about Nature in the "Cadena Cope, Eivissa". It lasted until 1987.

The Tribunals proved GEN was right and the two blocks of "Es Codolar" were declared illegal. (The constructor knocked down the structures a few years later).

GEN started the second protest campaign against the building of five big villas on the small island of "Tagomago", Northeast of Eivissa. Finally, only one of the five was built.

In 1986 GEN published the studies done by the group about the actual environmental situation. They checked the amount of urbanisation of the Island's coast and the tremendous ecological impact and also presented a document "l'Opció GEN," plans and propositions in matters of ecology, culture and economy for the near future.

By 1987 GEN created the awards "Savina" and "Formigó". "Savina", the name of one of our most genuine trees, is the positive award, given for the first time to the local poet Mariá Villangomez. "Formigó" (concrete) is the negative one. The first concrete block was given as a "vitalise title" to Abel Matutes Juan.

1988 was not a good year for GEN. The protest over the construction of a big urbanisation in "Sal Rosa" (Sant Josép) was a fiasco and only 400 people assisted. The urbanisation was legally approved and built. Antoni Pedro Marí resigned as president and there was a serious risk of the group disappearing. The amount of letters send by the people to local papers and to the group, asking them to carry on with their magnificent and indispensable task, helped them to decide to continue.  Joan Lulls Ferrer was nominated as provisional president.

1989. GEN recovered new energies with new and enthusiastic people in its leadership, including Josép Ramón Balanzat, the speaker of the group, later one of the members of the "Govern Balear", Fanny Tur, the Counsellor of Environment in the "Consell Insular", Mariá Marí and Neus Marí, among others. Joan Lluís Ferrer is the only one left of the anterior directorship.

1990. GEN organised the first sailing trip around the Islands, with the restored sailing boat "Rafel Verdera", on which the young pupils had good fun and practical experiences in sailing, plus a better understanding of Nature. It also started a cycle of conferences, films, books and all kind of positive information in Eivissa about environmental matters, given by university professors and other relevant personalities for the ecology, such as Xavier Pastor, president of "Green Peace" in Spain.

1991. A new campaign started against the reform of the LEN (the Law about the protection of Natural Spaces). The political party P.P. wanted to change or reduce this law to be able to build more and in more areas, such as Ses Salinas and a new golf course in Cala d'Hort.

The reform of this Law was finally approved by the "Govern Balear", with this political party in control of all Town Halls on the Island, the "Consell Insular" and the "Govern Balear". A lot of new building licences, even in what were supposed to be legally protected areas, were given in those days. We still suffer the effects of it now.  Most of the new constructions at present were approved then; the situation was very critical. Josép Ramón Balanzat left the GEN to start his political career in the new local party "Es Verds". Mariá Marí was elected new president of the group.

1992 GEN and GOB (Grup Ornitologic Balear, already stabilised in Formentera) got together for a better profit of their task. Since then the group has been called GEN-GOB.

GEN-GOB started a new campaign against the construction of a new golf course and two urbanisations in Cala d'Hort. The campaign lasted until 1999 and was the hardest of them all, with a lot of manifestations, denouncements to tribunals, all kind of meetings, etc.

Neus Marí was the leader of the new platform "Golf No -Cala d'Hort Park Natural." There was a serious risk to her life as well for the people working by her side, as one could read in threatening paintings on walls, just by Sant Josép Town Hall, the police station and all over the district, together with all kinds of insults. Nobody stopped those paintings and they were left untouched for several months.

GEN created l'Equip de Natura, a new team formed by young naturalists, biologists and other students, Joan Carles Palerm, Oliver Martinez and Esteban Cardona, who joined GEN. A lot of scientific programs started with them, such as a new census for birds and plants (more then 10.000 birds of different kinds have been ringed by the group since then), walks and field works with school pupils, recycling campaigns, etc.

In 1995 Ses Salinas was declared "Reserva Natural" (Natural Reserve, protected area), this new law coming from the central government in Madrid, and against the will of our local P.P. government, who wanted to give licences for building in all the area.        

1996, Campaign against the construction of 1,000 new apartments to be built in "Ses Feixes de Talamanca" and "Es Pla de ses Monges". The entire area was finally declared as a "Protected Area".

Campaign against the construction of a big house on top of a hill in a "ANEI" by Santa Agnes, (protected area of special natural value), denouncements to tribunals were presented by GEN, though the villa was finally build. Five years later, the tribunals proved GEN right and the house was declared illegal and condemned to be demolished.           

1999, 22nd January, GEN organised the biggest manifestation ever in Eivissa, 11.000 people and the support of all political parties apart from P.P., the motto was "No more destruction".

The construction of the golf course and the urbanisation in Cala d'Hort started, three days later, the new "Govern Balear"- "Pacte de Progres"- (for the first time in our democracy, the government of the Balearic Islands is not for the conservative party, P.P.), stopped the constructions and started to prepare a new law to declare the area as Natural Park. The entire area was finally declared "Park Natural" in 2001. 

GEN also started to have representation in the local government and can vote about new land and building projects.

2,000, Mariá Marí, GEN's president started working with the schools in environmental education. The experience of this new environmental camp is a big success, increasing the number of pupils the following year. Joan Carles Palerm was nominated new president. 

2001, Tribunals agreed about the illegality of the house in Santa Agnes and the house was condemned to be demolished.

This is just a resume of the amount of activities that GEN did along those years. Yet as we can see there have been a lot of actions with very important results. But in my opinion the most important thing that GEN-GOB is still doing is the everyday work, the anonymous and quiet work, the task of all the members of the group, sacrificing their valuable time and energy for free, for the love they feel for Nature and for our Islands, for a better future for all.

I had a long list of names of people who have collaborated in or with GEN that I wanted to mention in this article, but it is a loooooong list and I'm sure that it is for me impossible to even know them all... And the article itself is probably too long.

So! To all of you: Thank you very much. Many Happy Returns!   

The Good News

On Saturday March 16th in Vila the local authorities officially presented the fifth volume of the "Nova Enciclopedi de les Illas Balears" (the New Encyclopaedia of the Balearic Islands), in which appears part of the botanical information collected by the local botanicals, already published this year by the "Societat d'Historia Natural de les Illes Balears" as well as in the British Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society (2001), 136: 313-322. This is a resume of the latest work done last year by this group of botanicals, some of them founders and active members, and all of them backers of GEN, Néstor Torres, Mario Stafforini, Guillem Puget, of the "Institut d'Estudis Eivissencs" Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the "GOB-Mallorca", Llorenç Saéz and Jordi Duñó, from the University and the Garden School in Barcelona. "Notes floristiques de les Illes Balears" 2001. (XIII). Boll. Soc. Hist. Nat. Balear. 44: 57-66. ISSN.  Palma de Mallorca.

Floristic Records from the Balearic Islands. Data about 48 vascular plants from Balearic Islands are presented. The following taxa are new records for the Balearic Islands: Abutilon teophrasti Medik. Bidens aurea (Aiton) Serff, Coriandrum sativum L., Launaea arborescente (Batt.) Murb, and Opopanax chironium   (L.) Koch. As a result of the revision of herbarium specimens, the following taxa are excluded: Aphyllanthes monspeliensis L., Piptatherum paradoxum (L.) Beauv. And Silene tridentata Desf. 

Keywords: Floristics, vascular flora, Balearic Islands.

This is the WebSite address http://www.gobmallorca.com for those people who want to contact the GEN-GOB here in the Baleares.

 
José P Ribas
josepribas@liveibiza.com
 

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