Manifesto of the scientific community in favour of Balearic’s NATURAL PROTECTED AREAS
1) The latest news in the press and social networks in relation to the natural protected areas of the Balearic Islands (NPA) and the actions of its politicians have filled of concern the scientific sector, regular user of NPA as areas of work and research, in this country.
2) The protected areas include habitats, ecosystems and wildlife that often can only be found, and therefore studied, in situ, forming a unique and particularly valuable experimental field and allowing the study of processes and species that could not be carried out in their absence.
3) The protected areas have commercial value, countable, through the innumerable environmental services they provide: a source of natural materials, extensive grazing support, water reserves, containment of erosion processes, etc. No less important are the intangible values treasured, increasingly needed in a society progressively more urban and distant from nature. They are essential not only for the animals and plants that inhabit it, but also for humans, who find relief either mental, physical and spiritual.
4) Conservation of NPA, contrary to what our government has repeatedly stated, is not expensive, especially when compared to certain public investments. No less true is that there is not a policy of protected areas based exclusively on the role of private owners, their interests are perfectly legitimate and prevail over the common good. The preservation of spaces is a discipline of conservation biology and territory planning, and requires a high level of technical and scientific preparation of the staff working in them.
5) We support a policy for NPA based in enough public investment and a genuine policy of territorial planning, because their benefits are and have to be public.
6) We express our great concern for the brutal reduction of budget and staff as well as the announced dissolution of the sate-owned Espais de Natura Balear, responsible up to now for managing the public system of NPA. This measure will involve the conversion of parks, already under-equipped, into parks testimonially equipped and without any investment capacity. Especially worrisome is the situation of Cabrera National Park, in decline since its transfer to the Autonomous Community, and the Natural Area/ Cultural Landscape World Heritage of Serra de Tramuntana, which almost saw disappear all of its technical staff.
7) We want to express our concern at the statements of the Minister responsible of the environmental conservation at the Balearic Islands, Mr. Company. To describe the experience of working in parks and reserves in such a dismissive way, comparing it to “live by one’s wits” tells very little indeed from someone who should, by sheer logic of responsibility, defend a budget and an active growth policy of the already rickety existing system of NPA. It is just the opposite of what it is been done while public millionaire subsidies are granted to the primary sector.
8) The scientific and research community of the Balearic Islands and also from other countries cannot remain impassive in front of this unwarranted attack to preserve the natural heritage of the Balearic Islands through their NPA, either social, cultural, hermeneutic, economic and intangible first class values, which contribute to the maintenance of natural and cultural value of the Balearic Islands and its social use and enjoyment, including ecotourism. A common good, an exceptional work and research area, staff with many years of effort on their backs are in danger. There is still time to stop this injustice.
9) Therefore we respectfully ask the Balearic Government to urgently reconsider the decisions taken in relation to the staff of Espais de Natura Balear. We also ask to provide the budget of the parks and reserves adequately, allowing at least the maintainance of conservation, research, public use, interpretation and surveillance programs at the levels existing in 2011.