WWF: Twice as much illegal farmland in Doñana as estimated

by Lorraine Williamson
illegal farmland
ASSSA

HUELVA – WWF reports that nearly 1,900 hectares of illegal farmland in the Doñana area could be regularised if the PP and Vox’s proposed law is passed in the Andalucian Parliament. 

This amount is more than double what the Andalucian government had estimated so far, which is about 750 hectares. WWF has requested that the law be withdrawn and will forward this information to the European Commission and UNESCO. 

Related post: Andalucia signs death warrant for Spain’s most important wetland 

The national park and wetland Doñana is an important area for WWF. Therefore, the organisation used satellite data to determine how illegal farmland grew between 2004 and 2014. The nature organisation then combined this information with the proposed law from the PP and Vox. If passed, the law would allow this illegal farmland to be irrigated while no water sources are available under the current 2022-2027 hydrological planning. 

No legal rights to land or water 

WWF argues this farmland is not legal, therefore, the land and water rights should be returned to their original state. In addition, the organisation believes that the owners should be punished. Furthermore, WWF emphasises that none of these acres have legal rights to the land or water. 

No technical research 

Juanjo Carmona, the spokesman for the WWF in Doñana, indicates that 70% of this farmland has not been irrigated since 2004. The organisation also criticises the fact that the government and the parties proposing the law have so far not carried out a technical investigation to determine the size of the land to be regularised. 

WWF hopes the government will repeal the law 

WWF hopes the Andalucian government will repeal or at least amend the law. Moreover, the organisation is prepared to defend its position in the Andalucian parliament, if invited. The WWF believes that the government has used fear instead of choosing an administrative procedure with all guarantees of public participation and information. 

European Commission opposition 

The Andalucian government’s law to convert farmland into reed beds near the Doñana National Park has also been opposed by the European Commission (EC). He believes that this law endangers the protected wetland of Doñana and will increase pressure on an already overexploited aquifer. The EC has warned that the deterioration of the subsurface water masses in the wetlands of Doñana could have disastrous consequences for the preservation of fragile ecosystems, which are of great value to water management. 

Law for Constitutional Court 

The Spanish government, led by Pedro Sánchez, has also expressed concern over the proposed law and has threatened to take it to the Constitutional Court if passed. Despite these warnings, Juanma Moreno’s autonomous government has not backed down and has travelled to Brussels to defend the law. 

Urgent procedure 

The Spanish government has accused the Andalucian government of aligning itself with Vox, a far-right political party. The Socialist Party has refused to negotiate the bill and will not participate in its mediation. Other parties are also considering not making any changes. The proposed law will be adopted through the urgent procedure and could be adopted by the end of July. 

Read also: Situation in southern Spanish nature park Doñana is dramatic according to SEO/Birdlife 

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