Doñana: From world heritage to “stinky pond”

by Lorraine Williamson
Doñana lagoon

PROVINCIA DE HUELVA – A recent report warns that Doñana National Park in Andalucia, Spain, is approaching a critical point where recovery will be nearly impossible. The area is in danger of turning into a “smelly pond” if water conditions are not urgently corrected.

The Doñana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its rich biodiversity and is an important habitat for many rare animal species, including many aquatic and migratory birds. However, the park suffers from water scarcity and pollution, which can have an irreversible impact on the local ecosystem. 

Immediate action needed 

Environmental activists and scientists are calling for immediate action by the Spanish government and local authorities. Without major changes, the park could soon become a shadow of its former self. As a result, it is not only the environment that will be seriously affected, but also tourism in the region. 


Given this panorama, not only SEO/BirdLife warn of the urgency to take action. WWF also urges the Junta de Andalucía to “give up passivity” and implement the Strawberry Plan. That implies the end of illegal wells and illegal irrigation. In addition, the bill must be withdrawn, which is still being discussed in the Andalucian parliament. With this proposal, the irrigation area around the ravaged Doñana would even be expanded. 

Cogesa Expats

Impunity for illegal water extraction 

WWF environmentalists are also urging MITECO to be vigilant about the “impunity” prevailing on many illegal acres around Doñana. In the National Park, the drought and human influence are still creating scenes never seen before. One example is that the largest permanent lagoon in the park has been turned into a wasteland for the second consecutive year. In addition, the groundwater would be polluted. 

Tourism sector concerned 

The tourism sector in Andalucia is particularly concerned about developments in the Doñana National Park. The park is one of the major attractions in the region, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year interested in its unique flora and fauna. The current situation can have not only ecological but also economic consequences. Local entrepreneurs fear for their income and urge quick action. 

Needs international attention 

There are calls to draw international attention to the dire situation in Doñana. Some even suggest calling on European funds to speed up the park’s recovery. What is certain is that a coordinated effort will be required to preserve this precious ecosystem for future generations. 

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