Lanzarote was awarded the UNESCO status of Biosphere Reserve back in 1993; a conferment that recognises both the islands’ unique environmental values and a level of achievement in sustainable development. The Man and Biosphere programme champions forward-thinking and responsible relationships between people and their locality.
Lanzarote, in part due to the extraordinary vision and energy of César Manrique was able to reveal the island’s unique beauty, seen in the Centros de Arte and protected landscapes, whilst engendering a sense of pride and respect that helped channel tourist development amongst far more judicious paths.
With a view to sharing this vision with visitors, the Biosphere Reserve office has prepared some guidelines on how to be an excellent tourist in Lanzarote, covering sports, leisure and simply moving around the island that provides some gentle reminders about the world around us…
A respectful attitude when visiting your chosen holiday destination contributes towards local conservation. If you plan to come to Lanzarote, the Biosphere Reserve office has set out some simple guidelines to help make your experience both satisfying and consistent with UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme. Lanzarote is home to countless treasures and we all have a part to play in ensuring that the island is treated with care and consideration.
- – Public transport is the most ideal way to get around the island.
- – If you wish to use private transport, choose hybrid or electric vehicles. You can also choose to share with others and reduce exhaust emissions, promoting human contact with fellow travellers.
- – The most ecological option for travelling short distances is to go on foot or by bike.
- – Excursions using off-road cars, motorbikes or quads may erode the soil and generate noise pollution which can affect the environment.
- – Try not to leave the engine running if you aren’t moving; this way you can save fuel.
- – Comfort and safety are optimised if you drive at a regular speed without too many stops and starts. The most efficient way to reduce fuel use and emissions is to drive in a high gear with low revs.
Please respect all regulations covering visitor access to protected natural areas. Read the information boards carefully and if possible, try and find out more about their particular features before your visit.
- – If spending a day outside or on the beach, carry your picnic in a basket or a rucksack. Pack food in reusable containers, avoiding plastic and take drinks in flasks or aluminium bottles.
- – Plastic bags and bottles have an enormous impact on the environment. Please take home any packaging and pick up any non-biodegradable waste you see littering the area as it could end up being ingested by animals, causing them a great deal of harm.
- – Don’t have a negative impact on the environment; be careful with your rubbish, depositing it in the correct containers.
- – If you eat out in a restaurant, choose one that serves local products; order water in a glass bottle and drinks that have been produced locally. Lanzarote offers some marvellous wines, beers and liqueurs, some of which are ecological.
Water is an increasingly scarce resource. On an island like Lanzarote, obtaining water is very expensive and is produced by burning oil for which reason we should optimise its use and most of all, avoid wasting it.
- – Don’t leave taps running and make sure that detergents don’t end up in the sea.
With just one drop of water lost every second due to dripping taps or faulty plumbing, 30 litres of drinking water can be wasted each day.
5. Cigarette butts
If you smoke, never discard cigarette ends on to the floor or into the sea. If you can’t find any bins, take the cigarette end with you until you come across one. They are extremely toxic for the environment and difficult to collect from volcanic ash.
- – Lanzarote’s natural wildlife survives in a delicate equilibrium that can be destroyed by the slightest modification, particularly in the case of vulnerable species.
- – It is advisable not to touch birds’ nests; not to feed animals; not to raise your voice or generate loud noises such as car engines or music, especially in sensitive areas.
- – Please don’t take volcanic rocks home; the souvenir should stay in your memory, not disappear into your bag. It is better to take a photograph rather than destroy the landscape for future visitors.
Birdwatchers, whether the expert seeking rare sightings, a nature- lover, an eco-tourist or a birding enthusiast from any town or city, can all follow good, basic guidelines so that the experience is positive for the watcher, for the birds and their environment; minimising impact. A good ethical code is essential to be able to take pleasure in this activity with causing damage.
- – The birds’ well-being is paramount. Whether a nature photographer, a scientist or simply a birdwatcher, the birds’ welfare ALWAYS comes first.
- – Protect the habitat. The birds’ habitat is vital to their well-being, meaning that our activities need to respect this and not cause any harm. We should leave everything exactly as we find it, taking care where we walk and staying on the pathways.
- – We shouldn’t alter the birds’ behaviour in any way. Birds’ tolerance to human disturbances varies between species and the time of the year; particularly at nesting time where we would risk the hatchlings’ survival or during autumn and spring migration periods.
- – If you come across a bird or animal in danger or requiring assistance, report this to the authorities who are better equipped to help. The contact number is: 696-73-31-77 (included in emergency police protocols). The service is covered from Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 22:00.
- – Don’t harass rare species. It is important not to disturb them; observe with caution and be careful how you divulge this information, since attracting large numbers of people can have negative consequences.
- – Respect landowners’ rights. Don’t access private areas without prior permission and be careful not to endanger conservation by wandering off the permitted pathways.
- – Respect other visitors in the observation area.
- – Share your information with local birdwatchers. Much of what we know today is a result of the collective data shared voluntarily between birdwatchers.
- – Behave as you would wish others to behave in your area. Birdwatchers then become conservation ambassadors for local birdlife and its habitats.
Lanzarote is considered to have some of the most unique and best preserved diving grounds in the Canarian archipelago. To help with their conservation and make the most of each of your dives, please read the following best practice guidelines as they have universal applications for this fascinating sport.
- – Control your flotation by using your jacket correctly and avoid swimming very close to the seabed. Currents created by fins can disturb large amounts of sediment which can obstruct breathing apparatus, especially in the case of sessile and filtering organisms.
- – Avoid lifting stones or moving elements on the seabed. Many creatures use them for the shelter and their survival depends on remaining out of sight. If you do move them, replace them exactly as they were.
- – Don’t take away items that look as though they shouldn’t be there. Some of these have remained a long while in the water (this can measured by the amount of sediment and microorganism coverage) and have been adopted as shelter for many invertebrates meaning that removing them could be more harmful than beneficial.
- – Don’t take “souvenirs” from your dives. The best memories are your feelings and images of a place in perfect balance with all of its elements intact.
- – If you enter caves or tunnels, beyond observing diving safety regulations, be aware that air bubbles rise to the cave ceiling where they can affect the survival of crustaceans that reside there, so be careful to minimise the time you spend inside.
- – Whilst it might seem like a fun thing to do, avoid trying to feed the fish or other species that come close since this can lead to a loss of self-protective distrust, essential to their survival. Many of these fish later end up the target of spear- fishers – practicing legally or illegally.
- – Despite the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum being a plague in many Canarian ecosystems, avoid killing them to feed the surrounding fish for the reasons given above and since doing so can release thousands of eggs that under the right conditions will produce new urchins.
- – Don’t interfere in the natural processes of hunter and prey that you may have the privilege of witnessing; you are there as a visitor and human logic is not applicable in these circumstances.
- – In pools with low levels of water, be careful not to pull out seaweed. Under stress they can release substances that can be toxic for other creatures that reside there.
- – If you dive in an area where seagrass is growing, remember that these are protected areas and function as a nursery for many fish and invertebrates, so be careful not to pull up the plants, maintaining a suitable distance from them so that your fins don’t create currents and disturb the sediment.
- – Don’t break off bits of coral as diving trophies. They may look like rocks but they are of course living beings that take decades to grow just a few millimetres.
- – Don’t cause stress by “playing” with underwater creatures since what may be a game to you could be mortal to them.
Responsible diving can bring great satisfaction, not just as a sporting activity but also from the opportunity to observe at first hand this extraordinary and beautiful natural world, where we can contribute to ensuring that for our next dive, all will be as it should be.
7. Don’t introduce invasive species
Before bringing your pets to Lanzarote, check that there aren’t any restrictions. At times, invasive species have entered the island due simply to a lack of care or understanding of the consequences. Species should not be taken from one place to another.
8. Report anti-ecological behaviour and environmental disasters.
If you come across any type of activity that endangers wildlife or the natural landscape such illegal tipping, irresponsible excursions, the use of poisoned bait, smuggling animals, etc., please report it. Call the emergency number 112 or the Environmental Protection Service (SEPRONA) on 062.
Various ecological associations and organisations offer environmental volunteer programmes to raise citizen awareness and help to conserve and recuperate sensitive areas that don’t receive sufficient funding. The WWF in Lanzarote runs a volunteer programme in the Chinijo Archipelago (http://www.wwf.es). Tel: 91 354 05 78
Purchases made in a destination work as an indicator to mark the level of visitors’ implication in their resort and their intention to reinforce a link by buying souvenirs as gifts. Part of these costs contributes to the local economy such as gifts or items you might buy or eating out in restaurants. A few brief recommendations can make this an even more positive experience:
- – Opt for fresh foods that have been produced locally. Avoid over-packaged foods since the packaging represents part of the price you are paying.
- – Use cloth or paper bags rather than plastic bags.
- – Make the most of the area you visit by interacting with the local vendors.
- – When buying souvenirs, look for those that express the local culture. These benefit the local economy and cultural diversity
- – Choose glass or cardboard containers over plastic.
- – Help communicate responsible tourism guidelines when you share details of the destination’s beauty and points of interest.
- – Show interest in the local culture, customs, gastronomy and traditions – you may well be surprised…
- – Try to make your visit count towards the sustainable and responsible development of the area; in this way, both you and the destination will benefit from your stay.
Following these recommendations, we can all help to conserve this small part of the Biosphere that is Lanzarote.