SEO/Birdlife warns of the “dramatic situation” of Doñana

by Lorraine Williamson

ALMONTE – The NGO SEO/BirdLife warned on Thursday about the “dramatic” situation and the risk of collapse in the Spanish National Park Doñana due to the drought and the mismanagement of the state government and water companies. 

There is a danger that the area will cease to be a refuge for birds in danger of extinction. When in Budapest, the environmental organisation organised an event. This was to demonstrate the importance of the Tagus and Doñana estuaries for bird migration in Europe. 

There, SEO/BirdLife recalls that the wetlands of Doñana have welcomed up to 650,000 waterfowl in some winters. And also that the Tagus Estuary can host more than 50% of the total wintering population of various species in the western Mediterranean. Despite this “critical” importance to migratory waterfowl in Europe, Doñana has lost 80% of its natural wetlands over the past half-century. This is according to the environmental organisation. 

Doñana completely dry at the moment 

“The overexploitation of its water resources, along with the driest decade in half a century, has left Doñana completely dry at the moment,” the NGO denounced. The overwintering population of waterfowl is at its worst in 20 years. The situation is worse in the case of breeding populations. More than 80% of endangered species close to the disappearance, the NGO said. 

Unesco World Heritage status in jeopardy 

Therefore, the organisation is requesting that Doñana be granted “Unesco World Heritage in Danger” status and that the coastal lagoons of Doñana, the Mar Menor and the Albufera de Valencia be classified as habitats in danger of disappearing. 

Related post: How Andalucian Benidorm is ending wetland Doñana 

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In short, Spain is violating its international obligations as set out in the AEWA treaty. This requires the conservation of the Doñana through poor water management and the promotion of irrigated agriculture, said Juan Carlos Atienza. He represented SEO/Birdlife at the AEWA conference. 

“Disastrous Management” of Illegal Wells 

Atienza has confirmed that Spain must correct the problems caused by human activity. And, furthermore, “avoid the degradation and loss of habitats in Doñana” to comply with this international agreement. In its statement, SEO/BirdLife describes the administration by the Junta de Andalucía and the Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation as “disastrous”. 

Ruling PP does nothing 

He also points out that the conservative People’s Party, which rules Andalucia, “maintains its promise to expand the irrigation area around Doñana to legalise more than a thousand hectares of illegal irrigation threatening the protected area.” 

The NGO warns that these plans and measures must be enforced and implemented. Moreover, they include closing all illegal wells or restructuring the entire agricultural sector, “Doñana will no longer be the last refuge for endangered species”. It will lead to a “collapse” for European waterfowl. 

Related post: Europe condemns Spain for destroying Doñana National Park 

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