Europe condemns Spain for destroying Doñana National Park

by Deborah Cater
Spain condemned by European Court over destruction of Doñana National Park
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The European Court of Justice has condemned Spain for failing to protect Doñana National Park. The European Commission condemns Spain for illegal water abstraction, which has very serious consequences for the southern Spanish nature reserve.

For some time, the situation in Doñana Natural Park has become increasingly critical due to illegal irrigation in the area. The area has been subjected to intensive agriculture for some time, which has resulted in a greatly increased concentration of harmful substances in the wetlands.

For years there has also been excessive abstraction of water through thousands of illegal wells for urban facilities. In addition, the lack of rain means the natural swamp has been almost completely dry for two years now.

WWF went to European Commission after Spain’s lax attitude

Years ago, the Spanish branch of conservation organisation WWF raised the situation with the Andacluian regional government. They followed up with the Spanish government. According to the WWF, Andalucia’s regional government is not doing enough to protect the wetlands of the national park in southern Spain. Since then, agreements were in place. However, only a few of these have been fulfilled by the regional government. The WWF subsequently raised the situation at European level.

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Because Andalucia, and later also the Spanish government, did not do enough to protect the nature reserve, the European Court intervened. The European Court released its conclusions on Thursday.

What happens after the European Court ruling?

The European Court ruled Spain has not done enough to protect the area and to maintain the water level, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The Spanish government’s hydrological plan for the Guadalquivir 2015-2021 does not sufficiently take into account the impact of human activities in this area.

It is now up to Spain to quickly come up with a new plan to restore the situation. Spain also needs to show they will protect the nature reserve as much as possible in the future. If Spain allows this situation to continue, or again does not do enough to protect this area, the European Commission will impose financial sanctions on Spain.

What is Doñana National Park?

Doñana National Park is a nature reserve located on the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir in Andalucia. The area is in two provinces, Huelva and Seville. The area is important as many migratory birds rest there on their journey from south to north. The swamps in the river delta are ideal for these birds.

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