ALMONTE – The Doñana National Park in Spain recently became the first ecological reserve ever to be removed from the ‘Green List’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This is the first time that a protected area has been removed from the sustainability designation among the 77 protected areas in 60 countries. The removal from the Green List is due to poor management by the Junta de Andalucía, which is responsible for combating the decline of biodiversity in the park. The decline is mainly caused by intensive agriculture, tourism, and extreme drought.
The loss of a green-quality mark
El País writes that two weeks ago the IUCN announced that Doñana no longer meets the standards of their Green List after an evaluation by ten experts. Despite the evidence presented by IUCN, the Junta denies that there is a problem and that it has received official notice of this decision. The IUCN confirms the decision, noting that the park will have to start from scratch to meet the requirements.
Years of decline in biodiversity
The process underlying this decision began in 2020 when an independent team of ten experts scrutinized park management for two years. They concluded that the park achieved only 17 out of 50 indicators. In particular, the effective conservation measures scored zero on five indicators. The researchers criticized the lack of explicit actions to address threats to the conservation of species and ecosystems.
Expand irrigation permits
The denial of the issue has direct consequences for Andalusia’s environmental policy. Recently, President Juan Manuel Moreno committed his policy to a ‘green revolution’. The government’s previous attempts to pass a law to increase water supplies near Doñana were withdrawn after experts – both national and at European level – expressed concerns about the negative impact this would have on the reserve.
Alarming situation in Doñana
The ecological situation in Doñana is alarming: only a small percentage of the lakes have not been flooded since 2013. That is why many species of plants and animals become extinct. The water scarcity and degradation of the wetland have had a significant impact on the reproduction of bird species in the reserve. The report presented reveals the decline of bird populations. Furthermore, it highlights the urgency of making decisions that will determine the future of Doñana.
The IUCN Regional Coordinator for the Mediterranean emphasizes that the Junta of Andalusia must understand the process of improvement. Despite this, the Junta maintains that they have not received any official notice. The park’s director declined to comment. Meanwhile, the responsible Andalusian minister regretted Doñana’s exclusion but is still waiting for official confirmation.
Warning for other nature reserves
This exclusion of Doñana from the Green List is a warning for other nature reserves worldwide. The IUCN remains open to supporting park authorities in improving their management practices. The hope remains that Doñana can rejoin the Green List in the future.