Archive for March, 2009

Lynx photo report

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

El Pais has this interesting photo report on the successful Iberian lynx captive breeding programme in Acebuche, Doñana. In the photo, the lynxes are monitored 24 hours a day by a team of biologists.

And sorry but I couldn’t resist this one of Elfo at three weeks old, the first “grandcub” to be born in the programme. He was abandoned by his mother Brisa and has been raised by the captive breeding team.

A Spanish nursery rhyme

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Cinco Lobitos
Cinco lobitos tiene la loba
blancos y negros detrás de una escoba.
Cinco tenía y cinco criaba
y a todos los cinco tetita les daba

Five wolf cubs
The mother wolf has five cubs
black and white behind a brush
She had five and she raised five
and she gave all five her breast to feed

To be sung to babies to distract them. Swivel your five fingers, the five wolf cubs, in front of the baby.

Tourism in Spain under threat

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Spain is currently the world’s second-biggest tourist destination after France, with the population of 45 million being bolstered every year by as many as 60 million foreign visitors, 80% of whom flock to the coasts. Tourism contributes more than 11 per cent of Spain’s GDP and employs more than two million people. These figures are going to fall in the next few years because of the economic crisis, but the sector faces a much greater long-term threat, that of climate change. According to the Fundación Empresa y Clima “the changes are going to be far more drastic than those caused by the current economic crisis”. Impact are likely to include higher temperatures, loss of beaches due to sea level rise, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, the reduction of water resources and the increase in forest fires. El Mundo

Meanwhile, the EU has delivered a stinging criticism of Spain’s property laws, allowing urban sprawl and corruption, voting overwhelmingly to freeze hundreds of millions of euros in Spain’s EU funding if the Spanish government does not tackle what the parliament condemned as “extensive urbanisation” practices. BBC

And again, the long-term prospects for the traditional Spanish tourist industry may not be rosy. Over-development of the country’s coasts has seen them lose their much of their appeal for tourists. Some statistics:

  • In the six years between 2000 and 2006, urban development within the first two kilometers of the coast of Huelva increased by 48.1 percent.
  • Urban sprawl in Valencia increased by 53.1 percent. In just six years, concrete was blighting one out of every 10 previously untouched kilometers of Valencia’s coastline.
  • In Alicante and in the Andalusian province of Málaga, more than half of the first two kilometers of coast are under concrete. In Barcelona, just 32 percent of the coastline remains undeveloped. Across Spain, coastal urban sprawl has increased by 22 percent in just six years.

La Comunidad Valenciana construyó un 10% de su costa en sólo seis años (EL País)

Rise in stork population

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

The population of storks in Spain is continuing to rise, rising from 6,700 pairs in the mid-1980s to 35,000 pairs today. Specifically in Catalonia numbers have risen from just 8 pairs in 1974 to 358. The reasons for their recovery lie in a greater respect for their nests, more nature reserves, availability of food from rubbish tips and the change in their habits due to warmer temperatures. This latter point has meant that some 10,000 storks no longer undertake the arduous migration to Africa, but instead migrate to sites in southern Spain. It appears that the old Castilian adage Por san Blas la cigüeña verás in reference to the arrival of storks in early February (San Blas is on 3rd February) no longer applies.

Spanish winter not so cold

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Despite our impressions, it seems that this year’s winter in Spain has not been so cold. According to the Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (Aemet) winter registered an average temperature of 7.4º, more than half a point more than the same period for 2004 and 2005. The sensation of cold is due perhaps to the occasional extreme spells.
El País

And according to the AEMET 2008 has been a warm year in comparison with the 1971-2000 period, though it has been the coldest since 1996 with an average temperature of 15.0 ºC.
AEMET (pdf)

Aragonite

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Spain has given the world a limited number of mineral names, including Aragonite. Aragonite was first identfied by one Abraham Gottlob Werner from a piece from Molina de Aragón (Guadalajara), which he erroneously believed to be in Aragon.The largest deposits of Aragonite in the world are found in Molina de Aragón, and in Minglanilla in Cuenca.

Last imperial eagle shot in Portugal

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Portuguese environmentalists have denounced the deliberate shooting of the country’s only nesting male Iberian Imperial eagle.The incident took place in February in the Vale do Guadiana natural park, close to the country’s southeastern border with Spain.

Miguel Rodrigues, spokesperson for SOS Lynx, said, “Irrational attitudes constitute one of the main barriers to predator conservation in Spain and Portugal. If predator persecution cannot be adequately controlled, the future recovery of many important predator species will be in doubt.” The species was once widespread across the Iberian Peninsula, but is now confined to small parts of central and southern Spain, and areas close to the Spanish border in Portugal.

Dan Ward on his new lynxblog comments on this shooting that:

“Irrational attitudes constitute one of the main barriers to predator conservation in Spain and Portugal, and if predator persecution cannot be adequately controlled, the future recovery of many important predator species will be in doubt”.

The Spanish (or Iberian) imperial eagle is one of the three rarest birds of prey in the world. Spain currently (2007) is home to all 234 pairs of imperial eagles, with a slight rise in recent years (see news archive on iberianature.

Record Spanish wind power record

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Strong gales last week allowed yet another renewable energy record for Spain with almost 40%  of the country’s energy needs being covered by wind turbines for several hours, with a record peak of 11,180mw being produced. Wind power has so far covered 11.5% of demand this year, 30% more than last year. Renewable energies provided 31% of total electricity supply in Spain in February, partly thanks to generous rains that boosted hydroelectric production.
The WWF has praised Spain’s efforts to develop renewable energy over the past 12 years.