Menorca airport, in compliance with the requirements of the EMAS certification, has drawn up this Environmental declaration validated by AENOR, which it has made available to the public. This declaration, for 2014, is intended to inform interested parties clearly and unambiguously of the environmental impacts generated by airport activity and the improvement initiatives now in place. Through this voluntary initiative, Menorca Airport provides transparent and ongoing information on its environmental behaviour, creating an open channel for dialogue with all the parties involved in its activity.
Menorca airport, with annual traffic totalling around three million passengers, has a long history of caring for and respecting the environment. In all the activities undertaken in its facilities, special attention is paid to possible changes or effects which may arise during building work, aeronautical operations, and other activities which take place in and around the airport.
This is attested to by the introduction and certification of recognised management systems, such as ISO 14.001 and ISO 9001. Menorca Airport has held these environmental and quality certificates since the early 2000s, and was one of the first Spanish airports to do so in the Aena network. Partnerships with companies for controlling and preventing issues in such important areas as water treatment and purification, waste management, the reduction of energy consumption and gas emissions, preserving the environment, etc., have always been part of the daily work of the airport's professionals. In this regard, and in the privileged setting of the island of Menorca, recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve since 1933, the airport has always striven to keep pace with society, as it becomes more motivated and aware of the need to conserve and respect the most precious asset of this wonderful part of the Mediterranean: its natural environment. Visitors immediately notice the perfect balance of natural values, care for traditions and the landscape, and modern comforts.
All these efforts were recognised in 2012 by the recent award given the Balearic Council for the Environment and Territory of EMAS III certification, according to the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme's regulations. This EU system promotes the improvement of environmental behaviour among European organisations, and is verified by the Spanish Standardisation and Certification Association (Asociación Española de Normalización y Certificación, AENOR). As recognition of this year's efforts, we have had the great pleasure of becoming one of the winners in the public organisations category of the prestigious European EMAS AWARDS 2014, granted by the European Commission since 2005. This year the award's motto was "eco-innovation as a major driver of green growth". This year there were 29 other organisations from 14 European countries nominated for these awards, and Menorca has been the first European airport to receive it. To date, only three other organisations in Spain have received this award.
Menorca Airport is aware of the strategic importance of these airport installations for the island as a whole, given that tourism is the main driver of the island's economy and the airport is the main point of access for this sector. Because of this, we continue to seek ways to improve and become more efficient, adapting to the needs of customers and their concerns, with pride of place given to respect for the environment.
Aware that inside some airports there are natural treasures that have remained untouched by humans, Minorca Airport, together with Grup Ornitològic Balear (GOB), has carried out a classification of the plants in its environment, in order to find out the botanical communities existing within the airport grounds.
The two plant domains (plant communities that occupy landscape untouched by humans) that exist on the island have been found at Minorca Airport: the Balearic holm oak (Cyclamini-Quercetum ilicis typicum) and the Minorcan wild olive tree (Prasio-Oleetum), which develops in the areas where the holm oak cannot grow. On the lands that have less depth and are rockier, where oaks and wild olive trees cannot survive, there are different bush and herbaceous communities (clovers and grasses), with outstanding presence of bulbous plants, adapted to the strong summer drought.
In the 1970s, before the airport facilities were built, the land currently occupied by the airport grounds was an agricultural-farming area. We can still observe today that lands that have not been touched for security reasons have evolved in a manner similar to agricultural areas that have stopped being farmed.
The former agricultural-farming land is being gradually colonised by other plants, which find a favourable substrate for their development. The plant communities of the surrounding areas are always those that have more possibilities of occupying the available land. In this way, the former farmed fields are colonised by species that find it difficult to coexist with agricultural management.
The low bushy species are an earlier stage since, in a short time, they will be followed by the colonisation of larger sized wild olive trees and mastic trees. In this wild area, in addition to the dispersion of seeds caused by weather phenomena or by insects, certain fauna specialised in seed collection plays a part, such as the dormouse, Elyomis quercinus, or the different species of mice present in Minorca, which store the seeds to survive the winter and allow the remaining forgotten seeds to germinate.
In the sample that has been taken within the Minorcan airport grounds a total of 197 different plant species have been identified, over an area of 100 hectares, which are grouped in the following plant communities or associations: within the sclerophyllous woods we find the Mediterranean holm oak and Minorcan wild olive tree; and among thickets and former pasturelands we find the calcareaous garrigue, the sub-associationHydochoerido-Brachypodietum phoenicoidis, the association Urtico-Smyrnietum olusatri, the association Echio-Galactition tomentosae, the association Centrantho-Parietarion judaicae, the association Resedo-Chrysanthemum coronarii and the association Trifolio-Cynodontetum.
Environmental assessment of existing vegetation
The greatest interest of this study of Minorca airport vegetation lies in the fact that it acts as an environmental laboratory in which it is possible to observe the natural evolution undergone by the different plant domains, when agricultural practices are abandoned.
From a botanical standpoint, it is expected that wild olive trees end up occupying most of the abandoned lands, with the exception of the areas where there is not enough fertile soil to survive in summer. In the places where the wild olive trees do not have enough land, we will find the rosemary garrigue as the main community. Meadows dominate in the dryer areas, which are inhabited by herbivores such as rabbits or tortoises. Furthermore, it is highly likely that, with a reasonably favourable climate, some of the interesting patches of Balearic oak within the grounds will extend little by little.
Some species mentioned in this environmental study are of special interest as they are scarce or threatened natural values. In this respect, we would highlight orchids, which give some areas an outstanding botanical interest.
On the other hand, the general development of the untouched areas of vegetation at Minorca Airport towards a state of colonisation by wild species undoubtedly offers shelter to interesting fauna. The fact that they are areas without intense human presence helps certain species, capable of coexisting with airport activity, to become established.
In this regard, and always with appropriate security measures, both for airport operations and the fauna itself, there is the possibility of using part of the land as a reserved area for some threatened species, such as, for example, the tortoise (Testudo hermanni).