Andalucia ignores Doñana National Park protection plan

by Lorraine Williamson
Doñana National Park -

ANDALUCIA – Nature organisation WWF Spain complains about the failure to keep the promises made by the Andalucia regional government. These were created to protect the wetlands of the Doñana National Park. However, only 17% of the agreements made have been met. 

Five years after the protection plan was made for the Doñana National Park, 83% of the agreements are not met. Furthermore, no initiative has even been launched for 40% of these unrealised promises. Despite the recent closure of illegal wells, strawberry and blueberry cultivation in the area is increasing even further. Of the total 11,000 hectares of greenhouses in the park, 1,600 hectares of water are illegally extracted from the wetlands. As a result, this leads to overexploitation of the groundwater. 

Legal water abstraction biggest problem 

In 2014, the regional board created the so-called “plan de la fresa” (strawberry plan). This was to halt the unstoppable expansion of agricultural greenhouses and illegal water consumption in the protected area. However, despite good intentions, very little has come of it. Moreover, the regional board still gives permission for water to be extracted for the benefit of lucrative red fruit cultivation. According to the WWF, the problem is not so much the increase in the illegal exploitation of groundwater, but the increase in legal water abstraction. 

No action 

According to the WWF, the environmental police of the regional administration has charged 151 illegal water tappers. But subsequently nothing is done with the handling, meaning most of these procedures have been unsuccessful. The WWF is now urging the regional government to close these illegal farms and thereby restore the water level and forest land, as initially included in the plan. 

WWF wants special environmental team for protection plan 

The promise was also not fulfilled to allocate a fixed budget to the protection of the nature reserve. As a result, five municipalities could not fulfill the planned ecological corridors for the natural passage of animals in the park. The WWF now wants to see a change in the negligent environmental policy. And is demanding from the sub-board that from now on a permanent team will deal with the fulfillment of the promises signed in the protection plan. 

Image damage Spanish strawberry 

If this team does not come, according to the WWF, the image of the Spanish strawberry will be cast in an increasingly dark light both in Spain and abroad. 

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