Category Archives: Lanzarote

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Oil Protests in the Canary Islands

Saturday, June 7th, was, without doubt, a triumph for the environmental groups who organized protests throughout the islands, against the exploration of the ocean bed between the archipelago and the continent of Africa by oil giant, Repsol, at the behest of the Spanish central government.

Reported estimates by organizers claim between 150,000 and 200, 000 turned out to show their opposition to the plans. Central government representatives, and local members of the ruling PP claim the numbers to be more like 45,000 to 50,000. You can’t be everywhere at once, and I can only tell you that the numbers at the rally I attended in tiny La Gomera were definitely closer to the 1,000 estimated by organizers than the 500 claimed by officials.

Oil Protests in the Canary Islands

The biggest protest was in Tenerife where either 16,000 or 80,000 attended, depending on whom you believe, but of course it isn’t the numbers themselves so much as the proportion of the population which is significant. The spokesman for environmental group Ben Magec told me that he was delighted with the La Gomera turnout as a per centage of the population.

There isn’t the slightest doubt in my own mind, traveling around the islands as I have been doing of late, as to the depth of opposition to the drilling, though for obvious reasons it’s a hotter topic in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. President of the Canary Islands autonomous government, Paulino Rivero chose to make his position clear on the tiniest inhabited island, La Graciosa, saying; “ Our petroleum is tourism, the landscape, the environment and our rich biodiversity.”

La Graciosa, possibly, has more to lose than any island in the event of an oil spill reaching its shores. A true “desert island” with long, white beaches, it has nothing but fishing and tourism. An oil spill affecting those industries would be fatal to the island economy.

La Graciosa

The image of the sort of oil damage we’ve seen from Galicia, Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico over recent years on those pristine sands is powerful, but the issue is about more than just the possibility of an oil spill, as various speakers pointed out. It’s about the safety of drilling into the sea bed of an area which is less than stable; it’s about the image oil platforms present to tourists; it is about our reliance on fossil fuels over all, not just on this archipelago. It’s also about the callousness of central government which in imposing this on the islands without proper consultation of the population. As Canarian Socialist spokesman, Manuel Fajaardo Palarea said: “Refusing to consult the population confirms the contempt the government has been showing towards the islands.”

Whatever individual reasons for protesting were, there was no question of the unity this has brought about. At all the rallies, the cries were; “Una sola Voz” (One voice only) and “Canarias no se vende, Canarias se defiende” (The Canaries is not for sale, the Canaries will defend itself).

Meanwhile, the president of the ruling PP in Fuerteventura claimed that the Socialists and the Coalition Canaria were politicising the question. I observed no overt party politics going on in La Gomera, it has to be said. Though the crowd was chanting slogans aimed at Jose Manuel Sória, Spanish minister of Tourism and Industry, who is, unbelievably, Canarian, one speaker asked not to blame him alone, but to understand that there is shared responsibility, pointing out that Caixa Bank was one of Repsol’s largest shareholders.

Oil Protests in Lanzarote

Speaker after speaker in La Gomera pointed out that not only do we need to protest oil exploration, but at the same time it is vital that we demand more investigation and investment in alternative energies. Elsewhere, spokeswoman for Ben Magec, Rita López called on the Canarian government to commit to sustainable energy, and pointed out that whilst it was a great thing to be united against big oil, her organization was still against Canarian investment in gas.

Remarkably, whatever the turnout, it’s a triumph that out of 8 marches no serious incidents were reported, in fact, scarcely any incidents at all. This came as no surprise to me because the most impressive thing about the event was that this really was a united front of ordinary people. At protests in the past I’ve observed a majority of the attendees to be, well, people who prefer “an alternative lifestyle,” not to criticize that, but they are not the main stream. Last evening’s rally was made up for the most part of ordinary citizens, grandparents with walking sticks, young mums pushing prams, families, in other words, your neighbors.

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Lanzarote Joins Canary Islands Olive Oil Revolution

An ambitious project to add olive groves to the natural economy of the Canary Islands has grown steadily since it’s launch in 2005 and now another island government is taking it a stage further with the campaign Ecological Olives In Lanzarote. The climate in the Canary Islands is ideal for large scale olive oil growth and cultivation, the first of the new groves were planted in Arico, Tenerife but now there are over 60,000 of the Acebuche trees planted across the seven islands, all promoting organic farming.

AgroLanzarote, part of the Lanzarote Insular Agricultural Service are taking the lead by offering olive trees to prospective farmers for 2.70 euros each with a minimum order of 300 trees. Francisco Fabelo of AgroLanzarote has pledged their full support. “Olive trees can be very productive, and can generate profits in the agricultural sector of the island. Therefore AgroLanzarote is trying to promote this culture and help farmers who venture to try it. The Insular Agricultural Service is hiring technicians experienced in these olive varieties, who can control the plantations until they reach production, with at least three visits per farm per year.”

The Acebuche tree is native to the Canary Islands, mainly in the valley areas, and produce large crops of olives. The long term aim is to encourage more olive groves across the Canary Islands and add exporting to the already growing local market.

 

New oil search could hit the Canary Islands

Repsol refinery

The threat of oil exploitation has returned to the Canary Islands, with the upsurge in petrol prices reviving interest in oil fields around the islands. Leading Spanish oil giant, Repsol, are expected to apply to dust off old unused drilling licences, to plunder deposits under the sea.

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography confirmed in 2002, that there is a large deposit of oil near Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Spains Prime Minister Aznar granted 9 new drilling licences to search for oil but at the time Repsol considered that it was not cost effective to start the search. Now times have changed and the President of Repsol, Antoni Brufau has indicated that the company will now push ahead to discover exactly how much oil the Canary Islands can yield.

As well as economic times changing, so have political times. The current Prime Minister Zapatero, on his summer holiday to Lanzarote in 2006, promised that no permission would be given to drill for oil unless there was a consensus from the island people. Sadly the higher that oil prices go, the more likely large scale drilling in the Canary Islands becomes.

Making a difference on the Lanzarote coast

The key to improving the environment is to get everyone involved, and that is certainly the case in Lanzarote where a coastal clean up has been organised for June 7th. Volunteers will work together to clean the beaches and the sea in Famara and Costa Teguise.

Costa Teguise beach

The project is a joint initiative driven by Clean Ocean Project, an environmental group from the nearby island of Fuerteventura, the local council, the local leisure business association and local diving schools. They all realise that the well being of their part of the island is something that affects them and their daily lives directly, and they are making an effort to clean up the rubbish left behind by those less considerate users of the coast.

The army of volunteers will sweep along the coast collecting rubbish from the beaches of Las Cucharas, Los Charcos, Playa Jablillo, and Playa Bastian. Three diving schools, Native Diving, Calipso Diving and Aquatis Diving Centre will be able to attack the sea bed, there will be 108 of them pitching in.

The idea is to make people feel involved and proud of the island they live on, many children will be taking part in the clean up, helping to educate them to the problems and needs of the coast. All participants will wear commemorative t-shirts featuring a drawing of a turtle, just one of the species that will benefit from the efforts of all the volunteers.

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Sands Beach Resort hotel, glad to be green

Family holidays are the lifeblood of Sands Beach Resort hotel in Costa Teguise, Lanzarote, and they know how important the health of our planet is for families, looking to their children’s future. Being based on the beachfront gives Sands Beach Resort a regular reminder of the beauty and fragility of nature. These are powerful reasons why Sands Beach Resort is committed to green policies, and were keen to join us as a sponsor of Canary Green.

Developing responsible tourism has already made Sands Beach Resort the proud owners of a Biosphere Hotel certificate from the Institute of Responsible Tourism, for their thoughtful policies towards holiday makers. These include, using recycled water for the gardens, choosing biodegradable cleaning products, using recycled paper and eliminating the wasteful use of electricity. In their brochures, Sands Beach Resort make a point of asking their guests to do their part by not putting unused linen and towels out for maids collection, being economical with water use in showers and cleaning, and taking an interest in the natural attractions of Lanzarote, and respecting them.

Lanzarote has been through a lot and it’s landscape was transformed by the six year eruption of 1730, that left it covered in volcanic lava. Since then the island has been allowed to grow steadily, but within certain limits of height and colour of buildings. Sands Beach Resort is proud of its place in the close knit community that is Costa Teguise, and wants to do all it can to promote green policies, and to reach out to the island, by setting a strong example of how to run a successful and profitable business, without compromising on its values.

Sands Beach Hotel in Lanzarote, Canary Islands.

The fine art of recycling in Lanzarote

Castillo San Jose

Don’t think of everything as rubbish, as the advert says, recycling, the possibilites are endless. This will be shown in a creative way at the MIAC – the International Museum of Contemporary Art in Arrecife, Lanzarote.

This year’s big competition is for renewable art, with entries being made from discarded items given a new purpose. The 20 finalists will be submiting their workfrom March 31 to May 26, the day of judgement by an international panel of experts. The overall winner will get 4,000 euros, second will get 2,500 euros and third 1,000 euros.

It’s very fitting that the MIAC was set up in 1974 by Cesar Manrique, the father of modern Lanzarote, a noted artist, designer and sculptor, whose work and legacy can be seen all over Lanzarote. The museum is in the old Castillo de San Jose at Puerto Naos, formerly used to repel pirates, it now attracts tourists and is open from 11am until 9pm every day.

What is a Biosphere Hotel? try Sands Beach Resort

Lanzarote was declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1993 by UNESCO, in recognition of it’s commitment to preserving nature and encouraging eco friendly and sensitive development of Lanzarote. Sands Beach Resort hotel in Costa Teguise was quick to offer to become a sponsor of this website as it echoes their own dedication to developing responsible tourism. They are very proud to be holders of a Biosphere Hotel certificate from the Institute of Responsible Tourism, but what does this mean to you as a holiday maker, when you go to stay there with your family.

Costa Teguise

Sands Beach Resort has embraced a raft of measures including using recycled water for the gardens, using recycled paper, choosing biodegradable cleaning products and eliminating the wasteful use of electricity. In their brochures Sands Beach Resort make a point of asking their customers to do their part by not putting unused linen and towels out for the collections, being economical with water use in showers and cleaning and taking an interest in the natural attractions of Lanzarote and respecting them.

These may sound like small measures on a global scale, but they can soon make a difference, and on an island like Lanzarote, it’s easier for visitors to feel more attuned to nature as they experience the wonderful sights that have taken thousands or even millions of years to evolve. Lanzarote is respected as a fine example of developing tourism with the needs of nature in mind, holiday makers will soon appreciate the lack of high rise developments and the uniform colours used for painting houses and public buildings. As well as making a contribution when on holiday, the initial choice of holiday venue and hotel helps to reward those who are making an effort.