THE Balearic government is today putting the finishing touches to its application to UNESCO to have the Tramuntana mountain range listed as a world Biosphere Reserve.

Regional Environment Minister, Miquel Angel Grimalt, said yesterday that separately from the UNESCO application, the Balearic government has already established its own bylaws for the conservation of the Tramuntana and has been working to reactivate traditional crafts and businesses in a location that is a favourite recreational destination for both Balearic residents and visitors. If the Islands succeed in securing the listing by UNESCO, nothing is going to change.

However, what the term “Biosphere Reserve,” does imply said Grimalt, is that local government will be committed to sustainable development combining landscape conservation with modern economic activity.

The area under consideration is a total of 85'174 hectares of which 76'304 are land-based spanning 20 municipalities, and the remainder, marine. All of the municipalities involved are in agreement with the proposal. Grimalt explained that the application documentation prepared yesterday does not in fact go direct to UNESCO. It first has to go to Spain's “Man and Biosphere” Committee which will check to see that the Tramuntana meets all the pre-requisites. He said that if the Balearics is successful in have the mountain range listed by UNESCO, it won't have to worry about financial resources for maintaining the territory. The title “Biosphere Reserve” added Grimalt, will add to the tourist attraction of the island. At a time when diversification of tourism is important in the face of still competition from other holiday destinations, offering visitors an alternative to sun, sea and sand is of major importance, he said.

It is not the first time that the government has dealt with UNESCO on matters of territory protection - the whole of the island of Minorca is already catalogued as such.