Posted on 05 July 2017
In a campaign win for WWF and other conservation bodies, Spain was forced to end plans for dredging the river.
Krakow, Poland -
The efforts of campaigners to inform experts on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee of the threats faced by Doñana, a rare and outstanding wetland in Europe, has ensured that requests on Spain to protect the site were maintained.
The Spanish government and other committee members moved today to relax what is asked of them, which would have created an uncertain future for Doñana.
In a campaign win for WWF and other conservation bodies, Spain was forced to end plans for dredging the river, and WWF now calls on Spain to keep to this promise and build on it, as there is much more to do.
The Committee recognised that current levels of water abstraction from the aquifer, if continued, would threaten the outstanding natural value of the site. If cared for, Doñana need not face a future on the ‘in-danger’ list, which remains a risk.
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
“Spain now has a chance to safeguard Doñana World Heritage site and all it gives us. WWF calls on the Spanish Government to work together with UNESCO, IUCN and conservationists, to protect this valuable place - or else it will be lost to species, visitors, the economy and future generations,” said Eva Hernandez, head of the freshwater programme at WWF Spain.
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:
Rebecca Clear WWF International firstname.lastname@example.org
+44 7909 936628 (in Krakow)
Scott Edwards WWF International email@example.com +44 7887 954116 (in UK)
Notes to Editors:
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.