Environmental Volunteering On The Island Of Ibiza, Spain

The island of Ibiza lies in the Mediterranean Ocean, around fifty miles off the south east coast of Spain, and although it is one of the largest islands in the Balearic Islands, it is experiencing problems that are harming the environment of the island. While most people who think of volunteering projects tend to look to Africa or Asia, there are plenty of things that can be done in the developed world to help safeguard the future. From damage caused to the region by tourism to the limited amount of fresh water available on the island, there are plenty of ways in which volunteers will be able to help improve the environmental surroundings on this beautiful island.

The arid landscape of Ibiza means that water has to be used as sparingly as possible, and farming techniques are vital in order to deliver a sustainable lifestyle on the island.  Attribution: Sonja Pieper

 

Environmental Challenges In Ibiza

There are several issues that are causing environmental concerns in Ibiza, but there is no doubt that the largest issue of concern is the huge number of tourists visiting the island every year, with around two million people arriving on this beautiful island for a vacation annually. This dramatic increase over recent decades has seen the population shift from being one mainly employed by agriculture to a population that is mainly present to serve tourists in the area. 

Water is one of the biggest concerns on the island, as there were only a limited number of fresh water sources on the island to begin with, and the demands of the tourism industry have seen a growing number of sources either run dry or become polluted. Desalination plants are present in four locations on the island, but these have their own pollution issues causing problems in the seas around the island. Along with water, the large increase in energy usage and the amount of waste produced also causes major issues, as does the loss of habitat for the species that are endemic to the island.

 

Recycling Water In Ibiza

Historically, the traditional buildings on the island would have had water retention facilities to help recycle water, but the modern hotels have seen these resources being lost, but there are projects on the island that are aimed to help preserve and recycle water as much as possible. Some of the volunteer projects on the island will involve work to help raise awareness among locals and visitors about the problem, and explain how dealing with water leaks and using water sensibly can make a huge difference.

Half of the water that is used in Ibiza is actually used in gardens, so educating locals and visitors alike on gardening for the Mediterranean climate and using plants that do not require frequent watering is another important role. Rio de Santa Eulalia was the last river on the island, and there has been very little water on the river bed there for several years.

The beautiful coastline of Ibiza helps to draw over two million visitors to the island every year.  Attribution: Ronald Saunders

 

Promoting Environmental Education And Green Practices

There are several organizations in Ibiza that are involved in promoting environmental practices and helping local people, businesses and visitors learn how to make the island sustainable for the future. When it comes to educating people about living and working in an environmentally sound way, there are often presentations and talks that are held across the island which you may be supporting, or you can also be working on one of the environmental centers on the island. These interesting centers are where the best practices are employed and where many of the activities that you undertake during your volunteering will happen.

 

Typical Work In This Type Of Volunteering

Depending on your previous experience and the type of things that you have done before going to the island, there are a variety of different things you may be doing, but if you aren't already aware of the farming methods in the region, learning about permaculture farming and sustainable irrigation will often be one of the first things you will do. These centers often produce their own food and provide fresh organic meals for those coming to the center to learn, so cooking can also be a part of the work.

There is also plenty of work that goes into farming in a way that produces zero carbon emissions, and you may even finding yourself traveling around the island helping others to install alternative energy systems. Because of the tourist industry, many of the volunteer organizations on the island also take part in beach clean ups and other activities to help combat the waste of the tourist industry. 

The tourism industry in Ibiza has proved to be a huge drain on its natural resources, with huge numbers of hotels that no longer retain the water retention architectural features that once were common on the island. Attribution: Andrea Puggioni

 

Life And Socializing In Ibiza

Although Ibiza may be famous for its night life, the dramatic effect it has on the environment will mean that many people will look to avoid supporting that particular industry during their stay on the island. The volunteering program will usually provide the accommodation as a part of the fee for the project, and meals are generally eaten communally in a very friendly atmosphere. However, there is plenty to do once your daily tasks are over, with the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of the island making for a stunning place to explore.

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24 June 2017
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