WWF urgently appeals to World Heritage Committee to protect Europe’s outstanding wetland, Doñana | WWF

WWF urgently appeals to World Heritage Committee to protect Europe’s outstanding wetland, Doñana

Posted on 05 July 2017
A group of Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in a marsh, at sunset, Coto Doñana National Park, Andalucia, Spain.
© Jorge SIERRA / WWF-Spain
Krakow, Poland - Today, Doñana, a rare and outstanding wetland in Europe, is facing a huge threat to its future, as the UNESCO World Heritage Committee comes under pressure to relax its requests on Spain to protect the site.
 
The Spanish government and other committee members are expected to try to relax what is asked of them, creating an uncertain future for Doñana. WWF experts are appealing to the committee today to resist this pressure.
 
Doñana is one of Europe’s few outstanding wetlands, and the continent’s most important location for migratory birds. The site harbours over 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world’s rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx. In addition to its environmental value, the park provides for the wellbeing of 200,000 nearby residents, with jobs from fishing, farming, research and ecotourism.
 
WWF has been calling on the Spanish government for many years to protect and recover Doñana’s water sources. Specifically, it must:
  • Cancel definitively dredging of the Guadalquivir River
  • Eliminate the 1,000 illegal wells, and 3,000 hectares of illegal farming fields as per the land use plan of the Andalusian government
  • Prohibit all mining and gas projects that could threaten Doñana
The UNESCO draft decision relating to this must retain key elements which require Spain to safeguard the site from the identified threats.
 
The concern for Doñana has been expressed by thousands of people. More than 150,000 WWF supporters have emailed the Spanish president asking him to save Doñana. Last year, thousands of origami birds sent by activists from across the world were displayed outside the country’s parliament in Madrid.
 
WWF has a presence at the meeting in Krakow in a bid to defend sites of outstanding value, such as Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, Bialowieza Forest in Poland, and the Gulf of California, all of which are being discussed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee this week, and have been a focus of its campaign, Saving our Shared Heritage.

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For more information, please contact:
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
 
Notes to Editors:
Images are available here.
 
About Doñana
The Doñana wetland complex includes a World Heritage site, a natural park and four Natura 2000 sites. Doñana’s diverse ecosystems provide habitats for up to six million migratory birds each year and half a million wintering birds. The area is home to over 1,500 plant species, almost 2,000 animal species and 500 species of microorganisms. 
In addition, wetland ecosystems, such as Doñana, provide many services that support the livelihoods and well-being of people. These include fish, fresh water supplies, climate regulation, flood regulation, and coastal protection.
A WWF report “Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development”published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.
The draft decision relating to Białowieża Forest is to be considered at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Poland on Wednesday 5 July can be found here
A group of Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in a marsh, at sunset, Coto Doñana National Park, Andalucia, Spain.
© Jorge SIERRA / WWF-Spain Enlarge
Donana
© Diego Lopez_ Enlarge
Glossy ibis, Donana National Park, Spain
© naturepl.com / Jose B. Ruiz / WWF Enlarge

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