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Results of an environmental survey amongst German hikers in the Serra de Tramuntana

The majority admire the landscape but are not aware of the difficulties to maintain it. Half of them are willing to dedicate one day to voluntary work to improve its conservation.

According to a survey carried out recently by volunteers of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), the majority of German speaking tourists have visited the Serra de Tramuntana on more than three occasions before and are interested to come back in the future. Half a dozen German volunteers spent several days in Mallorca during last year’s hiking season interviewing German speaking tourists. During 5 days in 7 strategic points of the Serra they interviewed almost 200 hikers. The objective of the survey is to find out about the visitor’s knowledge regarding the Serra de Tramuntana, its level of environmental protection and conservation state and to evaluate their interest to participate actively in volunteer work to help to maintain the landscape of the Serra.

The survey shows that a high percentage know about the UNESCO declaration of World Cultural Heritage Site but this has not influenced much their decision to visit the Serra. The aspects that they most value in the Serra are the dry stone walls, the stoned pathways, the terraces and the olive groves. They are generally satisfied with the conservation of the landscape and are not conscious of the problem of the invasion of pine trees in the olive groves or the abandoning of the terraces and dry stone walls. Neither do they see much problem with abandoned waste along the paths or barriers closing off hiking trails. Their criticism is mainly centred in the lack of signposts, particularly at the beginning of the paths, and the lack of information in German language. They perceive the Serra as a relaxing, authentic place providing a unique natural experience but they are conscious of its fragility and need for protection.

Regarding their disposition to participate in volunteer work to preserve the Serra, 50% of the hikers interviewed declared their willingness to dedicate a whole day of their holiday or even several days to a physical conservation activity. Their interests are mainly helping to maintain the dry stone walls, reforestation or conservation of the olive groves. Their main reason for doing this is to get to know local people, followed by maintaining the cultural and natural landscape. They would even be willing to pay a reasonable amount to participate in such an activity.

The results reveal that the majority of the hikers (60%) are over 50 years old, have studied at University (58%) and travel with their partner, friend of family, not in organised groups. Half of them are employed and a quarter are retired. The average duration of their stay is 8 – 9 days, the majority stay in hotels (50%) or tourist apartments (25%). Most of them (60%) arrive at the starting point of their hike by car, hardly any by public transport.

The survey forms part of a larger project “Initiatives for the participation of German tourists in the conservation of the Serra de Tramuntana” carried out by Amics de la Terra Mallorca, their counterpart in Germany (BUND), the sustainable tourism consultancy experts BTE and with the financial support of the German foundation DBU. Other activities in the same pilot project include: various volunteer active working days with German hikers, a directory online of where one can buy local products of the Serra de Tramuntana, training sessions for mountain guides about the natural values of the Serra and general information for German speaking tourists about the fragility of the Serra and the importance of its conservation.

One can find the full results of the survey here.

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