Staff Reporter THE ecological watchdog in the Islands, GOB (Balearic Ornithological Group), called on the central government Environment ministry yesterday to set up special measures to protect beaches bordered by sand dunes.

The group claim that if the dunes are eroded, they will be irreplaceable; and are at the same time criticising the fact that the new central Socialist government has still not appointed a head of the Coastline department.

GOB are giving a high profile to the need to take urgent action to protect the dunes in the face of ongoing deterioration due to passing traffic and walkers; the misguided placing of beach services such as bars and cafés, showers and sporting equipment huts; and inappropriate beach-cleaning machinery.

Similarly, the ecologists are sounding a warning note with regard to the clearing of areas of neptune grass, which, they claim, is being done “at an inopportune moment and with little selective forethought”. The destruction of the neptune grass meadows, say GOB, is coming dangerously near due to uncontrolled and widespread boat anchoring.

The conservationist group affirms that the Environment ministry in Madrid has, “for years”, had plans for preserving the delicate ecological balance of the dune system, but that it has failed to put any of them into action. It is for this reason that GOB is now pressing for their urgent introduction, and is putting special emphasis on protecting the natural areas in the Balearics, such as Es Trenc, sa Canova, Cala Mesquida and Cala Agulla.

Es Trenc, in the municipality of Campos is of symbolic importance to Island conservation, because it was in the 1980s that the Balearic Ornithological Group extended its activities to include the defence of natural land, and launched a successful campaign to “Save the Trenc”. The dunes behind the beach form a dynamic ecosystem with vegetation adapted to the excess of wind and salinity formed by plants such as sea thistle, bushes such as “Zamarrilla” and trees such as the pine and tamarind. The whole natural area is surrounded by farms and country houses, several of which have been converted into Agro Tourism establishments.