Spain names 14 new Wetlands of International Importance
Spain raises total number of Ramsar sites to 63
The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Government of Spain has designated 14 new Wetlands of International Importance covering a total area of 47,946 hectares, of which one mountain site of 39,979 hectares is in Cataluña, another site of 487 ha is in the Madrid region, another of 86 ha is in La Rioja, and the remaining11 sites, mostly complexes of small ponds covering 7,394 ha in total, are in Andalucía. These designations (officially designated on 27/01/2006) add to the previous 49 existing Ramsar sites in the country, and significantly enhance the network of critical wetlands that support migratory avian species, endangered species and important habitat types in the country.
Spain now has 63 Ramsar sites, more than any other Party except the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia.
Ramsar's former European Assistant Advisor, Dorothea August, has prepared brief summaries of the new sites, assisted by Adrián Ruiz Carvajal, and some excellent photos have been supplied by the Spanish authorities.
Humedales de la Sierra de Urbión. 27/01/06; La Rioja; 86 ha; 42º01'N 002º53'W. EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Natural Protected Area. A complex of ten 10 small wetlands located in a typical alpine high mountain environment of glacial origin, though it is located in the Mediterranean region. Over 90% of the area is occupied by alpine and sub-alpine grasses, while the surface covered by water and rock materials occupies less than 10%. The land is mostly used for cattle ranching, and in some sectors such as the Reserva Regional de Caza Cameros-Demanda hunting is also permitted. Nevertheless, the wetlands are in an excellent state of conservation and major impacts have not been detected. Ramsar site no. 1672. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Humedales del Macizo de Peñalara. 27/01/06; Madrid; 487 ha; 40º51'N 003º57'W. Natural Park, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Biocynegetic Reserve. The morphological traits of the Macizo of Peñalara were shaped during the last ice age, which explain the high mountain characteristics presented by its wetlands and flora; there are 242 high altitude ponds and lagoons of glacial origin, some of them temporary, as well as some permanent and temporary creeks, and peatlands dominated by Sphagnum. The site also contains 11 natural habitat types in which the vegetation follows a clear altitude-specific distribution, with pine trees in the lower zones and high altitude shrublands higher up. All these factors combine to provide a great variety of landscapes. However, factors such as air pollution and forest fires also threaten the integrity of the ecosystem, and fungus infections have eliminated over 90% of a native toad (Alytes obstetricans). The contribution of traditional livestock grazing to the eutrophication of the wetlands is currently being investigated. Ramsar site no. 1673. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Humedales y Turberas de Padul. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 327 ha; 37º00'N 003º36'W. Natural Park, EU Directive Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. Comprising the remains of a fluvial swamp system located in the Lecrín Valley, next to the mountains of Sierra Nevada in Granada. The mountains surrounding these wetlands have been transformed over centuries by human activity, modifying the hydrology to create drainage channels and springs. This site constitutes the only wetland of endorrheic origin in the province and one of the largest peatlands in Mediterranean Europe. It is of high importance given the vast numbers of birds that frequent it, as well as for its cultural and socioeconomic characteristics. The wetland is an important site for reproduction, resting and hibernating seasons of many species, including Circus aeruginosus, Ixobrychus minutus, Vanellus vanellus, Porphyrio porphyrio, Egretta garcetta, and Circus cyaneus. The main threats include peat extraction leading to a lowering of the groundwater level and the presence of abundant water vegetation. A slow eutrophication process due to fertilizer run-off is also present. Ramsar site no. 1674. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Paraje Natural Brazo del Este. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 1,362 ha; 37º08'N 006º02'W. Natural Landscape, EU Directive Special Protection Area. The site comprises a stretch of the old Guadalquivir river bed that was channeled during the 20th century and displays a mosaic of cultivated fields with some remaining marshes and other wetlands. The importance of the site increases during the autumn season, when bird communities find a very attractive range of fish populations in the wetland, which promotes its use for feeding, resting and breeding. The fisheries of Brazo de Este have also been an important resource for non-commercial consumption, previous to its protection for conservation purposes. The past creation of rice fields has led to disruption of the hydrological functions of the wetland, leading to sedimentation. Ramsar site no. 1675. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Paraje Natural Lagunas de Palos y Las Madres. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 635 ha; 37º09'N 006º52'W, EU Directive Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. The lagoons of Primera de Palos, La Jara, La Mujer and Las Madres constitute an important support area for the Odiel Marshes and the Doñana National Park. Among the most important species present are the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala), the Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) and the Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata), although many other species like Netta rufina, Aythya nyroca, Circus aeruginosus and Pandion haliaetus also use the site as a breeding and wintering site. A project is currently underway to restore the original hydrological and peat characteristics of the site. Ramsar site no. 1676. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Paraje Natural Punta Entinas-Sabinar. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 1,948 ha; 36º42'N 002º42'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Protocol for Especially Protected Zones in the Mediterranean, Barcelona Convention. Located in the Almería Province, the site is part of a permanent endorrheic catchment that also contains coastal sand shores and dunes, as well as traditional salt extraction sites (now abandoned). This site is of great importance for waterfowl migrating between western Africa and northern Eurasia. The predominant land uses include intensive agriculture, the extraction of land substrates as building materials (now forbidden), and some sheep herding. The threats to the site include infrastructure works, agricultural run-off, and exotic vegetation. Ramsar site no. 1677. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. 27/01/06; Cataluña; 39,979 ha; 42º34'N 000º56'E. National Park, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance. A good example of the typical glacier and raised bog valleys in the high mountain area of the Pyrenees, including mountainous and sub-alpine beech forests, mixed conifer forests and shrub-zones, including a diverse vegetation with many endemic species. The site also contains a rich diversity of natural hydrological systems such as mires, lakes and watercourses; as well as artificial ones including reservoirs and small dams. There are over 200 alpine lakes within the site boundaries. Among the negative impacts to the site are water extraction, infrastructure, electricity lines (which are expected to be removed in the future), and the increasing pressure created by tourism. Ramsar site No. 1678. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 514 ha; 36º52'N 005º52'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. Made up of a permanent, a semi-permanent, and a seasonal lagoon near the mouth of River Guadalquivir, essential for the breeding and resting of numerous migratory waterfowl, effectively constituting a functional extension of the Doñana marshes. Native vegetation has recently been reintroduced around the site as part of a broader conservation effort. The site suffers from soil erosion and silting from the surrounding agriculture, as well as other diffuse sources of pollution. Ramsar site no. 1679. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Laguna de los Jarales. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 147 ha; 37º18'N, 004º34'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. The pond and surrounding fields is important, among other things, for hosting species like the toad (Bufo calamita), which shows local adaptations to this particular lagoon. Agriculture is important around the site, with olive, wine grape and cereal plantations generating a certain degree of silting and contamination of the lagoon. The arrival and spread of the invasive Ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) is actively being prevented, as it tends to compete and interbreed with the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Ramsar site no. 1680. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Laguna de Tíscar. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 185 ha; 37º25'N 004º49'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. This seasonal endorrheic pond belongs to a wetland complex of ponds situated to the south of Córdoba, of which the first three are Ramsar sites. Among the Andalucian Red List / EU Birds Directive Annex I species of endangered bird populations present on this site are Circus aeruginosus, Netta rufina and Podiceps nigricollis. The site also contains the Castiseco archaeological ground. Ramsar site no. 1681. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Laguna del Chinche. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 221 ha; 37º36'N 0004º09'W. Nature Reserve, Andalucian Wetland. Located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, the site constitutes an intermediate zone between the important palustrine wetlands of Doñana and Bajo de Guadalquivir Lagoons, on the one hand, and the La Mancha wetlands and the Mediterranean region, on the other. For many years the lagoon has been systematically drained through surface and underground extraction to provide water for olive plantations. Pollution from agriculture and poaching constitute further threats. Ramsar site no. 1682. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Laguna del Conde o El Salobral. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 345 ha; 37º34'N 004º12'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. Of particular importance as feeding, breeding and nesting place for waterbirds, the value of the fauna in this wetland has the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) as its emblem, for it used to have its last European population in this area. In order to ensure its permanence, measures have been taken to eliminate the Ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), an invasive species believed to constitute a major factor in the decrease of white-headed duck populations. Ramsar site no. 1683. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Laguna Honda. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 368 ha; 37º35'N 004º08'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Site of Community Importance. Together with Laguna del Chinche, Laguna Honda constitutes one of the best conserved palustrine formations in the province. Its ecological importance lies in its strategic location promoting connectivity, its geological processes, and its associated flora and fauna. Among the species present are the nationally endangered birds Oxyura leucocephala, Aythua nyroca, Ardeola ralloides, and a toad (Bufo calamita) registered in the EU Directive on Habitats and Wildlife, Annex IV. Adverse factors include agriculture and its associated groundwater extraction, infrastructure works, and illegal hunting. Ramsar site no. 1684. Most recent RIS information: 2006.
Reserva Natural Lagunas de Campillos. 27/01/06; Andalucía; 1,342 ha; 37º02'N 004º49'W. Nature Reserve, EU Directive Special Protection Area, Site of Community Importance, Andalucian Wetland. Comprising five temporary ponds which form a functional unit with further ponds in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The site is also important on archaeological grounds, as it hosts the Roman Capacete ruins. Regulated hunting exists in some parts of the Reserve. Among the threats to the site, changes to the hydrology, agriculture, eutrophication and water extraction count among the main ones. Although the numbers of cattle present are not excessive, they exceed the carrying capacity of the site. Ramsar site no. 1685. Most recent RIS information: 2006.