Mitigating climate change in Spain’s Doñana National Park

Posted on 01 February 2006

A new report commissioned by WWF highlights the adverse impacts of climate change facing Spain’s Doñana National Park, and calls on water reduction and ecosystem restoration as some of the means to alleviate the worsening situation.
Seville, Spain – A new report commissioned by WWF highlights the adverse impacts of climate change facing Spain’s Doñana National Park.

The report — Doñana and climate change: proposals to reduce the impacts — reveals that the average daily mean temperature in the park will increase by 3–4ºC over this century, and that the summer period in the region will increase by 2–5 weeks. In addition, the number of rainy days will diminish, resulting in a 110mm decline of rainfall per year. Sea level is expected to increase by 0.5m, further aggravating coastal erosion.

“It’s crucial that the management and policy plans for Doñana and its surrounding areas include mitigation and adaptation measures against impacts from climate change,” said Mar Asunción, responsible for WWF-Spain’s climate change programme. “Climate change is happening so fast that it may soon be too late to apply preventative measures.”

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Spain pledged to increase domestic emissions by not more than 15 per cent as compared to the base year 1990. In 2004, however, Spanish emissions increased by 45 per cent as compared to 1990 levels, making Spain the worst performer in the European Union when it comes to meeting Kyoto targets. The power sector is a major greenhouse gas emitter in Spain, with power companies responsible for about 25 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. To meet its Kyoto target, Spain will have to achieve deep emission cuts in the power sector.

“With ambitious policies, an effective emissions trading system, renewable energies backed up by adequate economic resources and binding energy efficiency targets, Spain would be an efficient and environmental friendly place for living and doing business,” said Heikki Mesa, WWF-Spain's climate and energy expert. “Spain can achieve a CO2-free power sector by the middle of this century, but this depends on the government’s will and capacity to take the necessary policy measures.”

To prepare the Doñana National Park for climate change, WWF-Spain is calling for a reduction of water use in the region.

“Saving water, especially for agricultural use, is a vital step to deal with the decrease of water availability that will take place in the future,” Asunción added. “As it is now, the agriculture sector consumes about 80% of the region’s water resources.”

Experts with WWF-Spain say that the ecosystem needs a chance to restore itself after decades of overuse and adverse environmental impacts.

“In the case of Doñana, it is necessary to restore the marsh systems, and to extend them in order to revitalize the region’s unique habitats and surface and ground water resources,” said Asunción.

Doñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the right bank of the Guadalquivir River at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It is notable for the great diversity of ecosystems, including lagoons and marshlands, as well as fixed and mobile dunes, and scrub woodlands. It is home to five threatened bird species, such as the imperial eagle and the marbled teal, and is the wintering site for more than 500,000 waterfowl and stopover point for six million migratory birds each year. It is also home to of one of the two last remaining populations of wild Iberian lynx.


The WWF-Spain report – Doñana and climate change: proposals to reduce the impacts – was commissioned by the University of Huelva, Spain.

• WWF-Spain has recently released another study on the power sector in Spain, showing that the sector can halve its CO2 emissions by 2020.

For further information:
Mar Asunción, Climate Change Campaigner
Tel: +34 913540578
Marshlands are an important part of the Doñana National Park ecosystem. Andalusia, Spain.
© WWF / Michel Gunther