Gran Canaria



Biosphere Reserve - Pilar Perez

The Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve: a whole host of opportunities

Gran Canaria is much more than an island, it is a setting in which nature and culture come together in a fanciful dance. This unique symphony of natural and cultural features has secured its recognition as a Biosphere Reserve. From the deep sea up to the peaks, Gran Canaria is a living testimony to the way land, sea and people blend together seamlessly.

A key component lies at the heart of this Biosphere Reserve, namely the Biosphere Reserve management team. Their work is multifaceted and extends beyond figures and regulations. With every step they take, they build a bridge between nature and the community, forging a more resilient and sustainable future.

What does it mean to be a Biosphere Reserve? Why has Gran Canaria earned this accolade? What benefits does it have for the population? Let’s go on a journey around the island in the company of Pilar Pérez Suárez, the manager of the Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve, in order to respond to these and many other questions.

Biosphere Reserve

A tapestry of biodiversity and culture

The Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve unfolds as a tapestry of biodiversity and culture, encompassing both its land surface area and the surrounding waters. In this unique setting, the designated areas weave together in a symphony of nature and culture.

The land area of the reserve covers around 43 % of its total surface area. A total of seven municipalities are joined together in this collective effort. Of these, three are fully covered by the Biosphere Reserve (La Aldea de San Nicolás, Tejeda and Artenara) and four other municipalities fall partially within this area (Vega de San Mateo, Mogán, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Agaete). Each of these municipalities adds its own history and contribution to this internationally recognised fabric. A stretch of sea, enriched by the murmur of the waves and the underwater life, stretches from the tip of Maspalomas all the way to the Dedo de Dios in Agaete.

More than 100,000 hectares make up this corner of biodiversity in total. This expanse is not only home to a multitude of unique ecosystems and species, it also provides a reminder of the vital interconnectedness of land and water. Every square centimetre serves as a testimony of the richness of Gran Canaria and its commitment to preserving it for present and future generations.

Biosphere Reserve

Guardians of diversity

This recognition is not limited to its natural surroundings. Right at the heart of this area are the people, who are the soul of the Biosphere Reserve. It is they who give life and form to these territories, leaving a palpable and long lasting footprint.

The mark left by humans is entwined with the surrounding area in a dance of history and tradition. Over the years, agriculture, cattle farming and other aspects of human life have left their mark around every corner. Ancient vestiges and modern day customs blend together in a tale of harmonious companionship.

For Pilar, it is the people who make the difference. Behind her work lies a series of key moments that transcend the professional sphere and have become personal treasures for her. Her fondest memories include her encounters with grandparents from La Aldea de San Nicolás. With a smile in their hearts, they greet her with a warm hug and some fond words, as if she was an intrinsic part of their community.

Moments like this remind her that, aside from the ecosystems and conservation, the true essence of the Biosphere Reserve lies in human relationships. "I can work with wonderful animals, plants and landscape locations, but nothing compares to the kindness and love of our people", she says.

So it is the people who have given life to the natural and cultural values in this Biosphere Reserve. Every story, tradition and effort contributes to the legacy that is preserved and enriched with each generation.

Biosphere Reserve
Biosphere Reserve

An endless range of possibilities

In Gran Canaria, being a Biosphere Reserve means more than just its title. It is an affirmation of commitment and an invitation to prosper in harmony with nature. Yet, what benefits does this recognition actually bring with it? That is the question that resonates among many locals, and the answer is both multifaceted and transformative.

"This recognition is not harmful; on the contrary, it creates opportunities", Pilar points out. It is a call to look at things differently, to think of the earth as not just being a resource, but an ecosystem that requires care and attention.

In the economic terms, recognition is a beacon of opportunity. Private companies that align themselves with the values protected and promoted by the Biosphere Reserve find it a valuable distinction. It is a seal of authenticity, a declaration of commitment to sustainability and harmony with the environment. For visitors who come in search of an authentic and eco-friendly tourist experience, this recognition gives the destination an added attraction.

Over and above companies, the title of Biosphere Reserve should foster emotional ties between the local population and its land. It is a hallmark of identity, a constant reminder that Gran Canaria is more than a place; it is a natural and cultural work of art. This intimate connection has given the community a voice, influencing important decisions. At key moments, the Biosphere Reserve can become the cohesive tool that helps us to safeguard the essence of the island and reinforce the identity and values of Gran Canaria.

Biosphere Reserve

Looking to the future

A Biosphere Reserve recognition is not a perpetual designation, but a commitment to constant evaluation and improvement. UNESCO's evaluation comes every decade, at which point a reserve undergoes a status report that comprehensively analyses the achievements, challenges and long-term trajectory. This assessment is not only based on present achievements, but also on long-term vision.

A series of concerted action plans have been implemented over the last 10 years to ensure that Biosphere Reserve recognition is much more than a static designation.

This periodic renewal and evaluation are essential to keep the essence of a Biosphere Reserve alive. Each cycle is not only a reminder of commitment, it is also an opportunity for growth and improvement. It demonstrates that the conservation and sustainability are an endless journey, guided by the purpose of preserving our planet for present and future generations.

As we come to the end of our journey around Gran Canaria’s beautiful surroundings, Pilar shares a highly important insight with us: in a fast-paced world, it is imperative that we awaken our conscience and pause to consider the implications of our daily choices. The Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve is not simply a geographical space; it is a living reminder of the intricate relationship between nature, culture and the people who inhabit this island.

Biosphere Reserve

Sustainability should not only be considered from an environmental point of view; it should also encompass the social dimension. Some options appear to be ecologically sustainable, but may perpetuate social inequalities or precarious working conditions.

Every decision we take, from what we buy to how we move around the planet, has an impact on our environment. "Sometimes, we can be sucked in to the convenience of imported products instead of supporting local resources, and forget that our choices have global ramifications".

The Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve serves as a reminder that we are all guardians of this planet. With every step that we take towards sustainability, we are writing another chapter of respect and care to our shared home.

Gran Canaria