Archive for the ‘Wetlands’ Category

Good and bad news from Aznalcollar and Doñana

Wednesday, 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

Once upon a time in Daimiel

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

As the Tablas de Daimiel struggle desperately to survive the underground peat fires and dessication, and with just 1% remaining of this once world-class wetland, I thought it was worth remembering how they were seen one hundred years ago by Chapman and Buck in their classic hunting travelogue Unexplored Spain.

Isolated thus, a mere speck of water in the midst of the arid table-lands of central Spain, yet these lagoons of Daimiel constitute not only one of the chief wildfowl resorts of Spain, but possibly of all Europe. Upon these waters there occur from time to time every species of aquatic game that is known in this Peninsula, while in autumn the duck-tribe in countless hosts congregate in nearly all their European varieties. Read Complete text of Chapman and Buck –  Unexplored Spain 1910

Listen also to Érase un vez – a soundscape of Daimiel. Photo by Greenpeace.

Loss of Spain’s Wetlands

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

According SEO/BirdLife, the wetlands and freshwater lakes of Spain are being destroyed at a critical rate, putting wildlife and habitats under extreme pressure. In a statement released to mark International Wetlands Day, SEO has condemned the loss of 68 percent of Spain’s freshwater lakes and 58 percent of the country’s coastal wetlands (over the last??). They state that these key conservation areas “are a mere testimony to what they were in the past.” In a similar line, Ecologists in Action blamed “industrial contamination, development, and waste dumping” for the loss of this essential habitat.

Greater Flamingos plummet at Fuente de Piedra

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Excellent and very worrying post by Peter of Spanishbirds on the forum

Greater Flamingo first colonised Fuente de Piedra back in 1963 and has since made the area a star attraction for many visitors. With a maximum count of some 34,000 birds being present in the past then it is not surprising why many people want to make this area a ‘must see’ site during their stay in Andalusia….

It is sad to report that the numbers of Flamingos present at Fuente de Piedra are now down to 4 individuals and that non-breeding has been drastically affected by abuses of self interest and the lack of managed water resources…. Read the full post on the forum

Iberian lynx in Doñana

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The BBC has an interesting article today on Doñana and the lynx: How the EU saves, and kills, the lynx

lynx andalucia

Photo from Lynx Recovery Programme

from which I have snatched:

“Dr Astrid Vargas, famous for her work to save the lynx in Spain, shows me the control centre where they are monitored.

A lynx

The lynx is like a domestic cat… with the hint of a tiger

To my disappointment, I am not allowed to see the animals in the flesh: there is the risk of them catching diseases and becoming unsettled if there’s a stream of visitors.

But it’s entrancing enough watching them on the monitors, as Astrid tries to find the cubs by panning cameras and switching between angles.

Two cubs are out for a morning walk but eventually join their brother in their den. They cuff each other, bite and play.

A three-year-old is about the size of a cocker spaniel, and they have wonderful faces, a little like a domestic cat, but then the hint of tiger flashes through. There is something both fey and ancient about their faces, it’s probably the tufted ears and pointed beard that does it.

They are at risk partly because disease has killed their main prey, rabbits. But environmentalists say what really threatens them is that the wetlands of this national park are drying out.

“Encroachment by humans has been brutal. If we do not protect the lynx’s habitat, there’s no point in having them in captivity – the purpose of this programme is to re-introduce them into the wild,” Astrid says.

“The reason the lynx is going extinct is because of our pressure. The Mediterranean maquis is shrinking fast, the natural vegetation is slowly but surely being changed.”

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

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Several environmental groups (Ecologistas en Acción, WWF/Adena, Greenpeace and SEO/BirdLife) have called removal of protection of Las Tablas de Daimiel and Los Humedales de La Mancha faced with the utter failure of protection measures to save this once great Spanish wetland. They note that 60% of the wetlands of the Alto Guadiana have dried out and that the Tablas de Daimiel themselves, once covered 2,000 ha in summer and now down to 26. At clear fault is the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha which with EU money, and to the benefit of a few rich farmers, continues to permit over-use of the area’s aquifers, making it impossible for the wetlands to recover. (El Mundo – but why is this paper always silent, have you noticed, about criticisms of PP-led regions?)

Relief for Tablas de Damiel

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Rains have brought respite for the Tablas de Daimiel and now the flooded area covers 68ha up from just 20ha at its lowest point several weeks ago. National Government has also agreed to “transfer” water from El Tajo. At its peak the marshes cover 1,600ha.. (El Pais ). Level of flooded area here of Tablas de Damiel