Report on Doñana Ramsar Site now available in Spanish
On 20-22 January 2011, together with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN (acting as its advisor for natural sites), the Ramsar Convention undertook a joint mission to the Spanish Ramsar Site Doñana, one of the most famous wetland ecosystems in Western Europe.
Concerns about its future started in the 1960s, and the state of the site became one of the first conservation projects of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, one of Ramsar’s International Organisation Partners) soon after its creation in 1961. By 1982, Spain had declared Dõnana a National Park (50,720 ha) and listed it as its first Ramsar Site when it joined the Convention. The National Park was included in the World Heritage List in 1994. In 2005, the total surface of the Ramsar Site doubled (111,645 ha) with the inclusion of the surrounding Nature Park, acting as a buffer zone to intensively used agricultural areas.
In January 2011, the joint mission concluded that the conservation status of this important ecosystem is satisfactory, and that it continues to support a number of outstanding hydrological, environmental, cultural, and biodiversity values and services. However, the pressures on the Wetland of International Importance continue to increase. Besides the challenge to find sustainable ways of freshwater use, avoiding e.g. over-abstractions for irrigated cash crop production, new looming threats are arising, including plans for deepwater dredging of the Guadalquivir river up to Sevilla and a planned oil pipeline, plus a number of other infrastructure projects in the immediate surroundings of Doñana Ramsar Site.
The mission report - available here in Spanish (PDF) - makes a complete analysis of the site’s ecosystem. Details of its hydrology, coastal and marine ecology and many socio-economic aspects are covered in the report. Ramsar’s 70th Advisory Mission to Doñana took place during the Convention’s 40th anniversary year, 23 years after the first Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1988.
A report by Tobias Salathé, Senior Advisor for Europe.
Each spring, the village of El Rocío is the gathering point for a million of pilgrims passing on horseback along traditional routes through the Doñana marshes to venerate the Holy Mary.