Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca.

Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca. archive photo.

18-10-2021David Fuller

More than 12,000 hectares of public forests and mountains in the Balearic Islands are protected, either for the services they provide or the important environmental and social benefits they generate, such as recharging aquifers, their contribution to climate change, fixation of the soil, biodiversity, or provision of resources.

Mountains and forests which are declared a Public Utility are included in the Catalogue of Public Utility Mountains, which dates back to the 19th century. It was the result of the liberal process of confiscation to untie land owned by the clergy, the military and private owners.

Characteristics

In order to avoid the subsequent sale of the forests, which would just end up back in private hands, the State created the Catalogue of Public Utility Forests to include forests that should be preserved because of their unique characteristics. The cataloguing means that, legally, the mountains of Public Utility become: inalienable (cannot be sold), imprescriptible (public possession is indefinite) and unencumberable (no judge or authority can retain them).

The first forests in the Balearic Islands included in the Catalogue of Forests of Public Utility were confiscated from the Sanctuary of Lluc in 1897 and registered in the name of the State in 1901.

27 public utility forests have now been added to the Catalogue, including Menut, Binifaldó and the Galatzó Public Utility Forest Catalogue in Calvia. They are owned by the State, the Autonomous Community, Island Councils and Town Councils.

Almost 20,000 hectares of forest in the Balearic Islands are publicly owned, which is 9% of the total and more than 12,000 hectares are Public Utility Forests.

12,000 hectares of the 16,000 hectares of public forest in Mallorca are in the Serra de Tramuntana.

The vast majority of the other 91% of forest property is privately owned by small farmers: 60.6% of whom have less than one hectare of and 0.78% have more than 100 hectares.

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