Nature tourism is not productive

Two months ago I spent a couple of days at Almerimar Port, South of Spain just near Almería.

Paraje Punta Entinas Sabinar

This small town is located at the far South of Campo de Dalias, an area known as the “plastic sea”. Fortunately, in this region there is still a nature stronghold: Punta Entinas – Sabinar Nature Reserve. The nature area runs along the sea coast between Almerimar and Roquetas de Mar, and comprises sandy beaches, coastal dunes, salt marshes and ponds. It’s remarkable both its flora (Savin Juniper, Mediterranean scrubland) and its fauna, since there’s an important community of birds (many migrants and also a large flamingo resident population).

Preservation state leaved much to be desired. Since it was low season the information desk was closed (I guess it is open during summer), but the most worrying was litter gathered all around (mostly near the main entrance). It looked like a dumping site.

However, there was another thing that called my attention: a sign announcing works in the are, the following:

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The sign says:
Maintenance and preservation of habitats at Punta Entinas Sabinar (Almería). Public assitance for non-productive investments. (“Mantenimiento y conservación de hábitats en Punta Entinas Sabinar (Almería). Ayuda a inversiones no productivas”).

I didn’t find which maintenance was going on, but what I don’t really understand is the meaning of “productive”. Since the information on the Junta de Andalucía (here or here) is not very clear, I check the dictionary:

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

productive /prəˈdʌktɪv/adj

  1. producing or having the power to produce; fertile
  2. yielding favourable or effective results
  3. producing or capable of producing goods and services that have monetary or exchange value
  4. of or relating to such production: the productive processes of an industry
  5. (postpositive) followed by of: resulting in: productive of good results

Is a nature area “productive”? From an ecological point of view, it is. It is useful for the setting and conservation of flora and fauna species. Produces or help to produce  more fauna, more flora… So what we’ll need to check is if it is productive of ” goods and services that have monetary value”. Ok… let’s breakdown some expenses (downwards) … 

  • Travel Palma de Mallorca – Almería: 100 €. (employing travel agencies, travel airlines etc.)
  • Local transport from Almería to Almerimar or Roquetas de Mar (taxi, bus): 30 € (creation jobs for taxi or bus drivers, i.e.).
  • Accomodation (price per night): 25 € (money for hotelier and their workers).
  • Eating in a pub/restaurant: 15 € (giving activity for local business even in low season).
  • Mountain casual attire and footwear: 90€ (economic activity for manufacter, distributor, shos assistants,…).
  • Binoculars: 100 € (manufacters, distributor, specialised shops).
  • Bird and flora guides: 50 € (publisher, distributor, authors, photographers, etc.).

Is a tendency to consider nature reserves as an expense we accept for ethics (or even sense of shame). But, proper managed, a nature area can create wealth (nature and economic wealth) and employment not just to the region but to large companies and specialised shops. As we can see, visiting an small nature are we have already spend more than 400 euros… So we may say nature tourism IS productive in all senses.

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