Problems because of a type of visitor

An impact of the pandemic was that people in Mallorca were increasingly attracted to natural spaces. They could be in the fresh air and maintain social distancing. A downside, as was reported in the Tramuntana Mountains, was that a new profile of visitor emerged, one that was less in tune with the ‘rules’ of the environment, even if these weren’t official rules.

The mountains weren’t alone in being impacted. Something similar happened in the Albufera Nature Park. The pandemic has passed, but the park continues to experience issues because of this changed profile.

On paper, Albufera has lost more than 5,000 visitors since 2020, but those responsible for managing the park know that the total number of visitors per year has risen – to around 100,000 per year. The park’s director, Maties Rebassa, says that over the first two years following the lockdown of the state of alarm in spring 2020, the park’s officials had to do “a lot of teaching”. “In general, people are now behaving well.”

It was the case that visitors would pass through the information centre, which allowed a statistical control of numbers and so therefore any possible impact on the environment. Visitors, in Rebassa’s words, were mainly people who loved nature and were very accustomed to the environment.

“But we have suffered the effects of ‘massification’, like everyone. There was a change in behaviour. There were increasing numbers of people who didn’t go through the information centre. Following lockdown, the behaviour was more typical of a town square. But little by little they have understood that they must be respectful, remain silent and stick to the itinerary.”

One of the management difficulties that the park poses is that there are various points for entering it. The official one is by the Pont dels Anglesos (the English Bridge) in Playa de Muro. From the entrance there is a walk of several minutes to the information and visitors centre. But Rebassa says that many people take a detour along internal routes before getting to the centre. He is pleased that the pandemic prompted a greater interest in natural spaces, but it is necessary “to teach respect for nature and for the values that make this protected area possible”.

Regulations for the park include staying on the authorised and signposted paths. Nothing can be taken from the park. Picking flowers, for instance, is prohibited. Bicycles have to be ridden at low speed. Silence must be maintained so as not to disturb the animals. Picnics are banned, as are dogs and activities such as running, fishing, horse riding and mountain biking. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in a fine.

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