How to restore the water quality in a Ramsar Site affected by intensive agriculture and urban development? This challenge was addressed by the European Union co-funded LIFE ALBUFERA project (www.lifealbufera.org) through the construction of wetland ecosystems in former rice paddies at the edge of the Albufera lagoon.
Albufera de Valencia Ramsar Site, one of the most emblematic Spanish wetland, is situated on the Mediterranean coast near the city of Valencia. The Albufera Lake used to be a typical Mediterranean coastal lagoon with salt water but today it is a freshwater reservoir managed by local rice farmers. Since the urban and industrial growth in the 1970 and the introduction of aggressive agricultural practices the water quality has deteriorated considerably. Intensive fertilization mainly of rice and citrus fruit caused the pollution of the lake.
Restoring wetland vegetation (“green filters”) significantly reduced the nutrient load and increased biodiversity (at all trophic levels, including providing breeding and feeding areas for waterbirds).
The final LIFE ALBUFERA project conference took place in Valencia on 29-30 June. Wetland experts emphasized the need to continue and expand this promising approach to achieve long-term improvements in water quality. These ecological restoration measures also need to be complemented by substantive changes in agricultural practices which significantly reduce the runoffs into the lagoon ecosystem.
To learn more about the LIFE ALBUFERA project visit the Ramsar Regional Initiative MedWet website here