Spain names 10 new Ramsar sites

11/03/2003

Spain designates 10 new Ramsar sites and extends an existing one

The hosts of Ramsar COP8 in Valencia announced during the Conference the designation of 11 new Ramsar sites. Ten of them are now ready for inclusion in the List (the Ramsar Bureau is still awaiting a map for the eleventh: Bahía de Cádiz). They include small wetlands, some of them intermittent, from all over the country, including four in the País Vasco (Basque country) contiguous with France and one in the Canary Islands.

Update: The Bahía de Cádiz map has just been received and a site description for this 11th new designation has been added to the descriptions below.

Here are brief site descriptions prepared from the Spanish Ramsar Information Sheets by Ramsar's Regional Coordinator for Europe, Tobias Salathé:

Bahía de Cádiz. 24/10/02; Andalucía; 10,000 ha; 36° 30'N 006° 11'W. Natural Park (Parque Natural, 2 Parajes Naturales), Special Protection Area and proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directives. An outstanding example of Atlantic tidal marshes on the Iberian Peninsula. Much of the saltmarshes have been transformed into salt pans. Nowadays, most of them are no longer in use and have reverted to more natural habitats or been transformed into pans for aquaculture. Natural habitats also include sandy beaches and rocky islets. The Bay of Cadiz is a crucial refueling site for migrating and wintering waterbirds, hosting more than 1% (Ramsar Criterion 5) of 14 different East Atlantic populations. It also harbours more than 1% of the breeding populations of 5 different shorebirds. The Bay is crucial for spawning, nursery and foraging of 9 commercially important fish species and harbours up to 60 different fish. The Bay was settled in ancient times, as revealed by archeological remains - it is now surrounded by urban centres (400,000 inhabitants) and the Cadiz port facilities. This creates urban, tourism and leisure pressures on the protected area. Ramsar site no. 1265.

Colas del Embalse de Ullibarri. 24/10/02; País Vasco; 397 ha; 42°54'N 002°33'W. Proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directive. Two parts of the extensive Ullibarri-Gamboako reservoir basin east of the regional capital Vitoria-Gasteiz. Since the creation of the reservoir in 1957, these two shallow bays have developed rich emergent vegetation that provides habitat for many species, including breeding and wintering waterbirds, and supports 2500 shoveler Anas clypeata (1% criterion). Threatened species occurring include the water plant Najas minor, the frog Rana dalmatina, and the European mink Mustela lutreola. Human uses include water sports, research and education activities, walking and nature observation along the long shorelines. Ramsar site no. 1255.

Complejo lagunar de La Albuera. 20/12/02; Extremadura; 1,878 ha; 38°42'N 006°46'W. Proposed Special Protection Area and proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directives. A cultivated plain with steppe grazing lands and Mediterranean oak savannah, including seven shallow, temporary endorreic pools and four smaller artificial freshwater ponds, covering together some 40 ha. The temporary pools and ponds represent about half of this EC priority habitat in the Extremadura region. They attract a variety of breeding, migrating and wintering waterbirds. Threatened steppe birds, bustards and sandgrouse are also abundant on the site. Human uses include agriculture and grazing and traditional exploitation of natural resources (timber, plant, mushrooms, etc.). Ramsar site no. 1256.

Lago de Banyoles. 20/12/02; Cataluña; 1,033 ha; 42°08'N 002°46'E. Protected Natural Area. The main part (999 ha) consists of the upstream freshwater lake adjacent to Banyoles town (15,000 inhabitants) and its forested water catchment basin. Within the site, the lake itself, the small marshes Lagunas del Vilar y de las Guixeres, and the inflowing rivers Castellana y de la Puda cover together 132 ha. The site includes also a separate part (34 ha) of the catchment of the Laguna de Espolla pool. It is one of the best examples of a karst catchment on the Iberian peninsula. The local sulphur, iron and carbon cycles support characteristic bacterial communities. A rich and diverse aquatic vegetation of permanent and temporary pools and the associated fauna contribute to the environmental importance of the site. The turtles Emys orbicularis and Mauremys leprosa and the fish Barbus meridionalis are of EC interest. Human activities include tourism and recreation in most of the wetland area, except a few inaccessible parts. Small-scale farming and livestock rearing takes place in the surroundings. Ramsar site no. 1257.

Lago de Caicedo-Yuso y Salinas de Añana. 24/10/02; País Vasco; 26 ha; 42°48'N 002°59'W. Two wetlands situated in the geological Cantabrican deep with much salty resurgences. Lake Caicedo-Yuso (13 ha) receives salt groundwater, creating a particular water chemistry and inland saltmarshes Juncetalia maritimi, a natural habitat listed by the EC Directive. The dragonfly population of Coenagrion mercuriale is of international importance. The other wetland consists of the terraced brine panels of Añana (13 ha), located nearby in the geologically peculiar valley. The water terraces have been used since the 9th century, and still are today, to produce salt through solar evaporation, and they harbour an endemic variety of the brine shrimp Artemia parthenogenetica. Ramsar site no. 1258.

Laguna de El Hito. 20/12/02; Castilla-La Mancha; 573 ha; 39°52'N 002°41'W. Special Protection Area and proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directives. A temporary, endorreic, saline steppe lake on the central Iberian plain. The shallow pool may extend over most of the Ramsar site. However, as it is only rain-fed, it regularly dries out and may occasionally remain dry for prolonged periods. It is one of the best Spanish examples of a steppe pool with rich submerged aquatic vegetation and adjoining salt marsh and steppe (Limonietalia, Juncetalia maritimi) habitats. The surroundings of the receding pool provide important grazing areas for sheep and goats and serve as a refueling site for migrating cranes Grus grus (up to 12% of the flyway population). Ramsar site no. 1259.

Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes. 24/10/02; Castilla y León; 307 ha; 42°04'N 004°45'W. Special Protection Area EC Directive. The original steppe lake ("Mar de Campos") covered more than 2000 ha, but was drained until its complete disappearance in 1968. The current shallow wetland is the result of a successful restoration project begun in 1990. Its water level is artificially regulated, including an annual dry period in summer. During winter and migration periods the lake attracts many ducks and shorebirds. A noteworthy migrant is the globally threatened aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. Over 200,000 greylag geese Anser anser winter, as well as over 10,000 mallards Anas platyrhynchos (1% criterion). Birdwatching is becoming increasingly popular around the lake. During drying out periods, half of the lake area is grazed, the rest remaining untouched. Its surroundings are used for agriculture. Ramsar site no. 1260.

Lagunas de Puebla de Beleña. 20/12/02; Castilla-La Mancha; 191 ha; 40°53'N 003°15'W. Nature Reserve. Two temporary, endorreic, rain-fed freshwater lakes that may form into one during wet years, but dry out regularly. At the water's edge, rare plant communities with Elatine hexandra, Littorella uniflora and Isoetes sp. developed. The pools attract many migrating waterbirds, including cranes Grus grus. The site acts as a biodiversity island in the midst of the extensive cereal cultures in the surroundings of Guadalajara province. Ramsar site no. 1261.

Saladar de Jandía. 24/10/02; Canarias; 127 ha; 28°03'N 014°20'W. Proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directive. One of the rare coastal saltmarshes on the Canary islands, extending along 2.5 km of the southern shore of Fuerteventura. The site contains many endemic invertebrates and reptiles, such as the lizard Gallotia atlantica mahoratae and the gecko Tarentola angustimentalis. It serves as a stopover and breeding site for several shorebirds. No human uses occur on site which is, however, adjacent to the expanding Morro Jable urban area and a coastal motorway. Ramsar site no. 1262.

Salburua. 24/10/02; País Vasco; 174 ha; 42°51'N 002°39'W. A complex of two shallow lakes at the edge of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque autonomous region (220,000 inhabitants). The marshes were drained during the 20th century and subsequently restored in the 1990s. Arkaute lake fulfils a key hydrological function in preventing flooding of the nearby part of town. The site contains the most extensive Carex riparia reedbed of the Iberian peninsula and other priority habitats of the EC Habitats Directive. The population of the globally endangered European mink Mustela lutreola is noteworthy. The area is used for research and environmental education. Specific trails and picnic areas are designated for nature tourists. Controlled grazing with a herd of deer is managing the emergent aquatic vegetation. Ramsar site no. 1263.

Txingudi. 24/10/02; País Vasco; 128 ha; 43°20'N 001°47'W. Coastal marshes in the estuary of the Bidasoa river at the Spanish-French border next to the towns of Irún, Hondarribia and Hendaye (France). Where fresh and salt waters mix, much food is produced for over 20,000 migrating waterbirds, including 250 spoonbills Platalea leucorodia (2.5% of the flyway population) and many rare and threatened species. Part of the area was recently restored to create an "ecological park" with a visitor education centre. Ramsar site no. 1264.

EXTENSION

Lagunas de Laguardia (Carralogroño, Carravalseca, Prao de la Paul y Musco). 09/12/96; País Vasco; 45 ha; 42°33'N 002°34'W. Protected Biotope. Proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directive. These are the northernmost meso-saline inland pools in Europe and represent the last examples of this characteristic ecosystem in the region. Of special interest is the aquatic flora, in particular the extremely rare Charophyte Tolypella salina. A variety of waterbirds (including nationally threatened Plegadis falcinellus and breeding birds Tachybaptus ruficollis and Podiceps cristatus) use the lagoons. The saline pools are not used by humans, but the lake of Prao de la Paul with some emergent vegetation is used for recreation. Extended in October 2002. Ramsar site no. 880.

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