The increase in users in the Gavarres massif (Girona) worries the consortium that is in charge of the management of the massif. As an example, only the counters located in four emblematic points have registered more than 80,000 people in one year. 50,000 people came to the castle of Sant Miquel, 17,000 to the Puig d’Arques, another 7,000 people to the Fitor hermitage and more than 10,000 to Los Àngels.

However, these figures are far from the number of people who access the massif, since the area is very large and can be entered from many sides. Furthermore, sports competitions have been on the rise and the Consortium is asking the Government for “urgent” regulation.

The pandemic represented a turning point in relation to access to natural spaces by citizens. Since then, the number of people who take advantage of their weekends to go for walks, bike rides or runs in natural areas throughout the country has “obviously” increased. One of the most frequented spaces is the Les Gavarres massif. The problem is that it is very difficult to know the number of people who visit each weekend, among other things because of the large number of accesses it has.

For this reason, the Gavarres Consortium opted to place user counters in specific and emblematic points. Currently there are four, the Fitor hermitage, the path to the sanctuary of the Angels, the Puig de Arques and the castle of Sant Miquel. In the last year, the number of visitors who have passed through any of these four points has been close to 85,000 people.

This figure is very far from the real number of people who have used the massif and who have not passed through these four emblematic places of the Gavarres. The consortium recognizes that the number of people who go to enjoy the massif is “especially high” on weekends.

A large number of users are concentrated between Saturday and Sunday. On the one hand, walkers, on the other, cyclists and, increasingly, participants in mountain races. All of this has led the Gavarres Consortium to request an “urgent” regulation of access, so that the entity has a tool to better manage and ensure the preservation of the space.

The problem, explains the manager of the consortium, Quim Gubau, is that Les Gavarres is not a natural park, but a protected natural space. This means that the entity does not have the possibility to apply a regulation, which must be done from the Parliament of Catalonia.

“What is needed here is to have a law on access to the natural environment, which is a pending issue for a long time and which needs to be addressed urgently. Not only for the Gavarres, but for the rest of the natural spaces of Catalonia, whether for those with gorges or for high mountain sports activities,” says Gubau.

One of the recurring problems reported by the Gavarres Consortium and also by the owners is the “constant” opening of trails that erode the land. Gubau reminds that currently a new trail cannot be opened without authorization from the administration and property. “Whoever does it does not assume responsibility and does not do any maintenance. We claim that there is already a very extensive road network and that it is not necessary to affect it,” claims the consortium manager.

Gubau recognizes that some cycling clubs are already interested in taking on the maintenance of some trails, something that Gubau believes would be “very positive” and would open the door to many other clubs to improve the management of the massif.