Last weekend, around 30 people (German tourists and locals) took part in a novel volunteering day organised by Amics de la Terra Mallorca to help recover olive groves and dry-stone walls in the Serra de Tramuntana, thereby raising hiking tourists’ awareness of the importance of maintaining them and the challenges in protecting a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The volunteering day, which will be repeated several times in 2018, was carried out in partnership with BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) and is part of a larger project supported by the German state foundation DBU. In addition to volunteering days for tourists, this project includes mountain guide training funded by the Consell de Mallorca, a survey of German hikers on why they visit the Tramuntana, as well as an online directory of places to buy local Tramuntana products in order to promote their sale. The volunteering days aim to offer German walkers visiting the Tramuntana the chance to actively take part in protecting it.
Twenty German tourists and 10 Amics de la Terra Mallorca volunteers started the day with a hike up the Barranc de Biniaraix to Can Silles, where the working day was carried out. Participants learnt how to make a terrace wall (‘marge‘) and helped a professional ‘marger‘ to rebuild one, realising how much hard, skilled work is required. They also helped to tidy up various olive grove terraces, removing reed grass and invasive pine trees.
Gori from Can Silles showed attendees how to graft an olive tree to avoid it becoming out-of-control. After a few hours’ work, they tried a delicious ‘arròs brut‘ (a Mallorcan rice dish) and other local products, before descending the Barranc. In the afternoon, they visited the Capvespre Centre in Sóller to find out about the different types of olives and oils, and could see first hand how olive oil is produced using the co-operative’s press.
The day was a complete success. The tourists were delighted to find out more about the Serra de Tramuntana’s unique landscape as shaped by man, as well as the huge challenges in maintaining it. They were very happy to have the chance to do their bit to help through volunteer work, as well as to meet local people.
The next volunteering days will take place in spring 2018 when the hiking tourism season begins again.