Greenpeace happy with the dialogue about Doñana

by Lorraine Williamson

HUELVA – Greenpeace has responded positively to Andalucian President Juanma Moreno’s announcement about opening a dialogue on Doñana National Park with the Spanish government. The move will lead to the postponement of irrigation regulations. 

Greenpeace welcomes this dialogue about Doñana and hopes for no further expansion of irrigation areas. The move has led to the postponement of the final debate on a bill by the PP-A and Vox to regularise irrigation in the region around the national park. Doñana is an important nature reserve and has already suffered from the drought of recent years. Greenpeace hopes that the plan will ensure that “no more hectares” are added to irrigation areas in the Doñana area. 

Details of the meeting 

This news comes after a meeting Moreno had in Seville with the government’s third vice-president and acting Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera. Luis Berraquero, Greenpeace’s coordinator in Andalucia, expressed his hope that “all voices will actually be listened to. Including those of scientists and ecological groups, and that illegal irrigation and the unlawful use of water will be decisively stopped.”

The importance of Doñana 

Doñana National Park is one of the most important nature reserves in Europe. It is also home to a large number of rare and endangered species. Any addition to irrigation areas in the vicinity of the wetlands could hurt this fragile ecosystem. 

Financial consequences of the agreement 

The agreement between the Andalucian government and the Spanish government on the Doñana National Park would result in a significant financial investment in Huelva. Last year, the Ministry of Ecological Transition announced an amount of €356 million for environmental restoration in the park. In addition, there will be a similar contribution that would increase the state investment in the area to €700 million. This second package aims to promote economic development in the area following the suspension of the controversial law to expand irrigation. 

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The agreement has sparked discussions among stakeholders including mayors, social groups, farmers, and environmentalists. The various stakeholders want to reach a consensus on a plan with specific measures within a month. However, it is recognised that it will be impossible to please everyone. The investment is expected to boost economic growth and alternative proposals have been made. Proposals include relocating greenhouses, investing in complementary industries, or diversifying the agricultural sector. 

Possible solutions for affected agricultural companies 

The president of Andalucia has called for more investment in water infrastructure to guarantee water supply in Huelva. However, the Ministry of Ecological Transition plans to avoid projects that require more water. Various solutions have been proposed, including purchasing the affected land. This is considered a complex operation due to factors such as land ownership and the lack of irrigation permits. 

Another alternative is to transform the productive structure in the area, invest in other crops, and set up facilities for processing and marketing agricultural products. In addition, suggestions have been made to focus on maintaining farms in drylands, such as olive groves, to support biodiversity in the Doñana area. Stakeholder opinions vary and it is emphasised that decisions should be based on scientific data and technical expertise. 

Also read: Prison sentences for illegal water extraction in Spanish nature reserve 

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