BARCELONA ( Associated Press) – The Spanish government has pledged a 350-million-euro ($368 million) investment in the wetlands of the Donana region, a UNESCO World Heritage site that environmentalists say are dying because of misuse of water and climate change. Is.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the engagement on Thursday during a visit to Doñana National Park in southern Spain.
Last year, an EU court ruled that Spanish authorities had failed in their obligation to protect the wetlands, and the government faced hefty fines unless it took steps to preserve the ecosystem.
Located in an estuary where the Guadalquivir River meets the Atlantic Ocean, the wetland covers 74,000 hectares (182,000 acres). They are a wintering site for about half a million waterfowl and a resting place for millions of other birds migrating from Africa to northern Europe.
However, the lagoons and marshes of the national park have dried up due to prolonged drought, decades of agriculture, and a nearby coastal city draining the underground aquifer. The area surrounding the park is filled with hundreds of unauthorized wells that pump water without legal authorization to irrigate crops, mostly berries that are exported throughout Europe.
The Spanish government indicated that 350 million euros would be used to recover the space and reverse the state of environmental degradation.
In a statement, the government elaborated that measures to protect the park would include reduction of withdrawals from groundwater sources and recovery of surface water.
The World Wide Fund for Nature welcomed the Spanish government’s measures and demanded that regional authorities do more to control illegal water extraction.
“We consider the decision adopted by the Spanish government to launch a new hydrological restoration plan as a major step forward,” he stressed. “We consider the closure of all illegal irrigated farms in the area of Doñana as a priority.”