Menorca is beautiful but environmentally sensitive. The whole island has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as a site “recognized under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme which innovate[s] and demonstrate[s] approaches to conservation and sustainable development.” In fact Menorca is the only Mediterranean island to have this distinction.
Living and working in such a special place, we at Golf Son Parc Menorca think and act very carefully to protect our environment. We have identified four major areas of environmental focus:
- Land use
For many years, the use of water for irrigation of golf courses has been a very sensitive issue. In Menorca, the law makes the position very simple: it is illegal to water a golf course with fresh water whether it is taken from the water mains or from wells / boreholes. This may seem strange given that it is perfectly legal to use fresh water for numerous other purposes including water hotel gardens or roadside verges and cleaning vehicles or boats. But that’s the law and we, of course, obey it. Which means that all the water used on the course is either rainwater or recycled water from the local water treatment plant. A lot of such recycled water in coastal regions (including some parts of Menorca) is pumped out to sea but, by using it on the golf course; we allow it to flow back into the natural underground water reserves (aquifers).
In fact there are further water benefits from a golf course:
- The turf acts as a natural filter cleaning rain and other water on its way back into the aquifers.
- The ground conditions in Menorca and the type of rain we often receive (sudden heavy storms) are such that much of the rain that does fall runs straight off into streams and out to sea. By contract, well-maintained turf holds rainwater and returns a greater proportion of what falls to the aquifers.
- Even in very heavy storms, turf is a very effectively prevents erosion (up to 20 times better than farm crops).
Green plants produce oxygen and a well irrigated golf course produces a lot of it. A very conservative estimate is that we produce all the oxygen needed to sustain 1600 people!
Land and nature
A lot is said about the consumption of land for golf courses. In fact, our course occupies less than 1/10 of 1% of the land area of Menorca and around a third of that consists of natural woodland and other native plants. The course also provides a safe habitat for many types of wildlife. We are hoping to begin working soon with local nature groups on developing a conservation plan for the course and also to be able to provide more information on nature for golfers and other visitors.
It’s also worth noting that – while many courses rely on shiploads of sand and soil being imported, this golf course has been constructed entirely of local materials.
We take great care to minimise and, as far as possible eliminate, the risk of pollution. All our chemicals are managed in accordance with a certified SICTED quality management system. In fact, with some very minor exceptions for the treatment of particular turf related problems, all materials used on the course are bought from our local agricultural cooperatives and are the same as used by other farmers on the island. Furthermore, research shows that the lakes on a golf course act as cleaning agents reducing still further the run off of chemicals. In the 18 years we have been running Golf Son Parc, there has not been a single case of pollution in the surrounding area (and, most importantly the wetlands) resulting from treatment of the golf course.
Nevertheless, we are continually looking for better ways to manage our environment and are always happy to discuss these questions with golfers and with our neighbours on the island.
The course also provides a habitat for wildlife. Under half of a golf course is the playing area; the rest includes woodland, lakes, natural grasses and other native plants. Protecting these areas and supporting them as habitats makes good business sense for us. Golfers enjoy playing in attractive surroundings and the sight and smell of wildflowers, the call of a bird or the buzz of a dragonfly all contribute to an enjoyable experience. People here are, understandably, cynical about the protestations of golf course developers with regard to the protection of nature and we do not simply ask them to trust us. We have thought deeply about our strategy for Golf Son Parc and we believe that our interests are best served by offering a golf experience which aligns with the experience and image of the island as a whole. The sort of thing seen elsewhere where golf is played on narrow strips of green between villas and where players have to cross roads six or eight times during a round are not the right solution for Menorca’s golf course.
We welcome feedback on this and other issues. If you have any questions or concerns about environmental issues, please feel free to email them to email@example.com