Environment

Articles in ‘Environment’

Diclofenac NSAIDS and Spanish Vultures..

November 27th, 2014

Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture – Clive Muir – www.wildsideholidays.com

Back in 2008 on the Iberia Nature forum we started a topic about the use of Diclofenac in Asia and, as the drug was about to be used in Europe, it stayed in the Spain sections rather than going in the “other places” boards… And it seems with good reason. If you fancy trawling through the wealth of information about this subject then the main topic is here.

Apart from this amazing topic on the forum pretty much everything you need to know now about this disgusting drug proven to kill vultures in their millions can be found over at the Vulture foundation…. Loads of papers and up to date news…

As the deadline for a final decision by the EU Commission on banning veterinary diclofenac approaches, vultures really need you.

Veterinary diclofenac is extremely toxic to vultures, and has been banned from the Indian subcontinent after causing a 95-99% decline of several vulture species there. Incredibly, it has been approved for use on livestock in Italy and Spain.

The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) has been leading a campaign, together with other organisations, to ban this drug in Europe too: given the existence of a non-toxic alternative (Meloxicam), common sense suggests a precautionary approach should be taken.

We had therefore asked the EU Commission to start a procedure for the withdrawal of an authorized veterinary medicinal drug which affects Community interests, Under Article 35 of Veterinary Medicines Directive (2001/82/EC). You can see more details about veterinary diclofenac, its impacts, and the whole campaign, here

http://www.4vultures.org/2014/11/25/vultures-need-you-please-write-to-your-meps-about-veterinary-diclofenac/

http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/

Follow them on facebook as well
https://www.facebook.com/vultureconservationfoundation

Tablas de Damiel doomed?

November 26th, 2014

 

Tablas Daimiel - Coca Cola

Tablas Daimiel – Coca Cola

Well, it looks like the Tablas will be saved after all!, The mighty Coca Cola company are throwing their not inconsiderable weight behind the protection and future of these wetlands….

Do we think that Coca Cola can do a better job than 20 odd years of National Park status and hundreds of millions of funding already from EU, local and national levels?.. Time will tell but I find the whole idea really weird..

More from Coca Cola with the promo video in Spanish here.

UPDATE. It would seem a shadow of doubt has been cast on Coca Colas work at the Tablas de Daimiel…. Latest news on the forum from one of our members living and working there… It makes a good read that’s for sure.

Below is the news from 2009

The last chapter of the sad demise of the Tablas de Damiel, once one of Spain’s most important birding sites, makes depressing reading.  The underground fossil peat deposits had been on fire for several weeks. The lagoons have suffered over the years from the building of thousands of agricultural irrigation wells which have caused the water table to drop to the level of the peat, which was then  heated up over the summer and started to self-combust. El País

The Guardian  also reported on this story at the time.

Spanish wetlands shrouded in smoke as overfarming dries out peat. National park which was once a ‘paradise’ now on fire and churning out tonnes of CO2. They are meant to be Spain’s most important inland wetlands, but yesterday the lagoons at Las Tablas de Daimiel national park were not just dry, they were burning. Stilted walkways stood on baked earth and rowing boats lay stranded on the ground. Observation huts revealed no birds, just an endless stretch of reeds rooted in cracked mud.

And the iberianature forum is thundering. Here’s Clive on the topic “This will certainly be the first national park in Spain to be declassified due to a complete failure on the part of government, local authorities and local people…. And what next… Do we see Doñana go the same way in 10 years? What did they do with all the money…. The whole situation is a bad joke…. And what next? Once de classified it will be a fine place for a casino city maybe? Golf courses…. have to kick start the economy you know….”

See also: Environmental groups slate Las Tablas de Daimiel and Los Humedales de La Mancha

Good and bad news from Aznalcollar and Doñana

April 9th, 2014

Contrapresa_rio_AgrioExcellent update with the good (and bad) news from Aznalcollar and Doñana Nacional park area on the BBC radio 4 programme “Costing the Earth”. Although ending with a warning for the future as is almost always the case it is good to hear that the clean up from the chemical spill took a relatively short time and nature very quickly bounced back.

“When millions of litres of poisonous sludge poured out of a zinc mine in Andalucia in 1998 wildlife was devastated for miles around. As the tidal wave of filth headed for the marshlands of Donana National Park it became a disaster for Europe as well as Spain. The prime route for birds migrating between Africa and Northern Europe seemed certain to be poisoned for decades to come.

Sixteen years on from Spain’s worst environmental disaster Julian Rush returns to the region to discover how nature, with a little help, has reclaimed much of the devastated area. The birds have returned and flocks of British birdwatchers are enthusiastically following the Imperial Eagles, Griffon Vultures and millions of birds on their spring migration back to the UK. Laurence Rose of the RSPB shares his memories of the disaster and shows Julian the path of the pollution which has become a lush, green feeding ground for resting birds.

The idyll, however, may be short-lived. Illegal boreholes dug to water enormous strawberry farms that export their produce to Northern Europe are sucking the life out of the marshes. Tourism is impinging on the wilderness and there are even advanced plans to resume mining at the site of the accident. With Andalucia desperate for jobs and foreign currency the local government is anxious to boost the region’s industrial sector. Finding the best balance between industry and nature is vital for the future prosperity of this stunning area and for the exhausted birds that make their way across the Sahara to Britain’s shores.” (Source BBC)

Listen to the program Costing the Earth here…

And join in on the conversation over at the Iberianature Forum

The worldwide Environmental Justice Atlas (Spain)

April 7th, 2014

map-eco-issuesI have just come across this very interesting interactive map of environmental issues in Spain. Right now the map pinpoints 35 conflicts around the country that are of concern. Issues such as the mega-infrastructure projects of the Ciudad Real airport and Ports, to utility projects such as those over high tension electricity lines, incinerators and conflicts driven by tourism and its related infrastructure.

The problems over tourism and recreation projects are for me very interesting especially in Andalucia (as thats where I am located.) Two projects in particular, the Valdevaqueros hotel and housing project in Tarifa and the proposed government sell off of the enormous Almoraima estate whose land connects to the stunning natural park of Alcornocales (The largest cork forest in the world) Other problems are a waste incineration plant in Cordoba and in Huelva, the industrial chemical processing plant.

The map has a lot of background information about these projects and the articles are well researched and written. The map is not restricted to Spain and allows users to browse the world’s environmental conflicts, by country, commodity, company involved and type of conflict. I’m sure this map will get a lot bigger and in depth as more data gets added….

Click here to go to the Spain Interactive map

And join the discussion about the subject over at the Iberianature Forum

The use of poison in Spain…. What is it killing?

March 21st, 2014

aparecen-envenenadas-1With the latest news coming from Zamora that includes a Spanish Imperial eagle, amongst other carrion birds, killed from the consequences of poisoning, I thought I’d have a search around the net for similar news and information.

The Vulture Conservation Council has an interesting page explaining the use of poisons that has affected Spanish Vultures.

A large number of vulture deaths in Europe can be attributed every year to poisoning, arguably the most important threat impacting on vultures today. Figures from Spain are illustrative – data from the Spanish ministry of agriculture show that between the years 2000 and 2010 a total of 40 bearded vultures, 638 black vultures, 348 Egyptian vultures and 2,146 griffon vultures were found poisoned. (The recent extinction of the bearded vulture in the Balkan Peninsula was largely due to extensive poisoning campaigns against wolves and jackals.) Read the rest of this entry

Is the economic “crisis” in Spain helping the Iberian wolf?

March 17th, 2014

lobo_iberico1An interesting article in the Guardian about the Iberian Wolf states that Spain is now a wolf stronghold and there are thought to be more than 250 breeding groups totaling more than 2,000 individuals. But, is the Spanish economic “crisis” really the reason for population increase or is it because of better education, local awareness and more land under the protective arm of natural and national parks?

See also the Iberianature Forum Topic – Wolves in Spain

Wolves traditionally flourish in times of political and economic crisis. Their return to Europe in the past 20 years is thought to be linked to widespread rural depopulation and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The demise of the USSR saw a near 50% increase in the number of wolves in the 1990s, as animals that had been kept under control by state-sponsored culling were left to roam unchecked and many packs crossed into sparsely populated areas of Poland, Germany and Scandinavia. Read the rest of this entry

The Rain in Grazalema

March 9th, 2014

weather-set-1One of my favorite writers in Spain, Sue Eatock who lives in Grazalema – Andalucía, has been studying the wildlife in her area for more than 10 years now. In one of her latest articles she explains why Grazalema gets the highest rainfall in Spain.

“Grazalema has the highest rainfall records in Spain’. This is a phrase that is commonly found on the internet, but without further explanation could be very off putting to the holiday maker! Mountains will always alter their local climate where-ever they are in the world, and this is no exception. Note that only a few hours drive away at the eastern end of Andalucia is Europe’s only desert!

The most green and humid areas of the Spanish Peninsular are the northern coastal zones which face the Atlantic ocean and from the Pyrenees mountain chain to the Catalan coast of the Mediterranean. These areas have rainy weather with a precipitation average of over 800 mm per annum and yet statistically the village of Grazalema in Andalusia is famous because of the fact that it receives the most rainfall in the  iberian Peninsular. Some years recording more than 2000mm. Read the rest of this entry

Aznalcóllar and the Cretaceous extinction

February 16th, 2010 Researchers from the University of Granada have compared the disaster caused by the  infamous Aznalcóllar spillage in the Doñana National Park in Andalusia 11 years ago with the biggest species extinction known to date during the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago). The aim of comparing this seemingly disparate pair of disaster events is to look at how ecosystems recover following mass extinctions. Read more

Dehesa under threat

November 10th, 2009

The holm oak and with it that unique ecosystem the dehesa are under threat. An invasive fungi phytophthora from Australia is ravaging across the dehesa causing a disease known as sudden oak death, aided by a deadly cohort of drought, several insects and other fungi. There are currently some 500 foci but scientists believe the worst is yet to come and that the production of Iberian ham could be seriously affected, not to mention the biodiversity based around this habitat. Regeneration and the more sustainable use of the system are seen as the only remedies.

El País

Destruction of the Spanish coast

June 2nd, 2009

The destruction of the Spanish coastline is subject to this slideshow in today’s Guardian. In the photos below, Benidorm in 1960 and in 2009.  A graphic example indeed, though I think the sprawl of second homes in the last twenty years has done much more harm and benefitted far fewer people.

See also:

  • Destruction at all co(a)st 2008 Report on the situation of the Spanish coast (Greenpeace) “The Builders and Developers Federation estimates that Spain needs more than 300,000 new dwellings every year. However, during the last four years, this number has almost tripled with 800,000 new dwellings valued between the second half of 2006 and May 2007. Now, the slump in the real estate market has plunged the construction sector into a depression that has affected the entire country.” Excellent review
  • State of the Spanish coast (iberianature 2004)
  • Also in today’s Guardian:  Campaigners warn of threat to one of Spain’s last pristine beaches “Politicians have long promised to bulldoze the Algarrobico hotel, but the 411-room glass and concrete structure still towers over the El Algarrobico beach in Almería, south-east Spain. Now campaigners say the authorities have changed their tune and are opening the way to more building on this stretch of protected Mediterranean coast.