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  • Mediterranean steps cleanup

    Home to a rich, diverse and unique ecosystem of flora and fauna, and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, the Upper Rock nature reserve is universally embraced as one of Gibraltar’s finest treasures. Notwithstanding, it is a treasure that is calling out for attention. To this end, the Government’s recent announcement that they intend to spend a substantial amount of money on revitalising the Upper Rock area will no doubt have been received by most with a certain degree of warmth. If resources are allocated and managed appropriately, the coming years should hopefully see some movement made in a positive direction.

    One of the numerous sites being considered for the revitalisation works is the Mediterranean Steps. The “Med Steps” has for years now provided users with a challenging walk that is rewarded with uniquely spectacular views of the southern and eastern faces of the Rock, as well as fantastic vantage points for observing the Straights and North Morocco. In recent times the effects of weathering have caused this nature trek to become increasingly dangerous and there are now some passes that are particularly treacherous and in need of some attention – potential users be warned! Nevertheless, the Med Steps are still frequented by able-bodied locals and visitors alike. Recent weeks saw some enthusiasts take a small but not insignificant step to better the state of one of their favourite areas of the Upper Rock.

    Concerned by the amount of rubbish that had been accumulating in the Med Steps (for it had not been cleaned up for some time now – perhaps as long as 5 years!), a group of 10 – made up of ESG members and friends – decided to meet early on the morning of Sunday 28th to tackle the problem. Armed with gloves, litter pickers, bin liners and plenty of drinking water, the volunteers braved the swelteringly hot conditions.

    After 6 hours of arduous work, much of the litter previously sitting on and near the beaten track had been collected; 16 big bin liners were filled with litter and removed from the Mediterranean Steps. A large percentage of this litter consisted of drinks containers, mainly plastic bottles (which can remain intact indefinitely!) Also tackled by the volunteers were the two lookout bunkers located on the eastside of the Rock, just before the steep ascent to the top. These areas were swept clean and the interior walls were given a coat of paint to cover up unpleasant graffiti. In total, the clean up took 10 people about 6 hours, with the end result being a more presentable Mediterranean Steps. But in order for them to remain in a condition that we can all be proud of, some change is necessary.

    Upper Rock enthusiasts will probably have some useful ideas regarding possible changes for the Government to consider. Certainly, it is anticipated that GONHS will participate actively in bringing in to fruition a new and healthier era for this nature reserve. But something that became increasingly apparent on this recent excursion up to the Mediterranean Steps is that everyone has a role to play in bringing about change – a valuable one at that… For there are numerous other areas of the Upper Rock which, like the Med Steps, are quite inaccessible and therefore not cleaned regularly by Master Services. And for this reason, it is the public’s attitudes towards littering that requires changing.

    It is simply not good enough to expect others to clean up your empty bottle of drink and chocolate wrapper. Apart from being an embarrassing eye sore, this litter has a negative impact on the health of the nature reserve’s ecosystems. It is not difficult to keep your empty drinks bottles etc with you (in a plastic bag perhaps) until such time that you can dispose of them properly in a bin. And by so doing, you’re not just ensuring a more pleasant experience for the next visitor to the Upper Rock; you are helping to maintain the Rock’s fantastic array of flora and fauna.

    For the ESG, this recent clean up of the Mediterranean Steps served as a valuable pilot for the upcoming Clean Up The World (CUTW) events planned for Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th of September…This trip was especially “off the beaten track” but many of the sites targeted for the clean up are much more accessible.

    Please ensure that the next time you visit our beautiful Upper Rock reserve, the only thing you should leave behind are your footprints.