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The nature in Spain: more protected but more threatened than ever

Wednesday 1 October 2008, by sods

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Ecologistas en Acción

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On the occasion of the celebration of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona from 5 to October 14, Ecologistas en Acción has submitted the report "Assessment of State for the Conservation of Nature in the Spanish State." The report concludes that much progress has been made in protecting wildlife and natural sites but, contrary to what one might expect, the nature Spanish is now more threatened than ever.

Ecologists in Action warned in his report that efforts to protect nature are virtually useless to a model of development in which economic activities consume and degrade natural resources at a dizzying pace. The most frequent assaults on nature are related to the development of transport infrastructure of all kinds (road, air, train or boat), with the inordinate urban growth, with large complex of entertainment or tourism, energy and industrial projects (pipelines, wind farms misplaced, hydropower, mining), with hydraulic infrastructures (dams, diversion and exploitation of groundwater) and also with the intensification of hunting, farming and fishing within the limits of protection.

Economic Crisis

With this situation, the arrival of the recent economic crisis has not only meant a stop to the destruction of the environment, but environmental policies has become something dispensable. So much so that in the past half year has gone by downgrading the status of the administrative environment. Following the last general elections the Ministry of Environment disappeared and I think the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Environment, with Minister of Agriculture at the helm. This trend, using as excuse the need to reduce costs, the CAAC has accompanied several specifically Madrid, Murcia, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha.

Importance of biodiversity

The Spanish State is certainly favored by their biodiversity with its responsibility for nature conservation is even greater than that of other states in their environment. That is why biodiversity should be contemplated as a major asset and priorities of the country, something that unfortunately does not happen. The data are revealing in this respect, since the total number of taxa estimated for the Spanish territory exceeds 100,000. Spain is the EU state which has a larger number of vascular plants and threatened with 26% of vertebrates included in the categories of "endangered", "vulnerable" or "rare", according to the World Conservation Union Nature (IUCN).

In addition, we have a total of 1,600 protected natural areas declared under the legislation of the state or autonomous regions, representing 11.8% of the land area. And if we incorporate this surface areas of the Natura 2000 network of European Union approval process, the area under some form of protection scheme totals 14 million hectares, equivalent to 28% of the territory (Europarc, Yearbook 2007 ).

Nature areas at risk

Of the attacks have not been spared either national parks or areas of the Autonomic Networks. But lately it is without doubt the Natura 2000 network that suffers the greatest number of problems. Cases such as the National Park Tables of Coldstream, in the process of descatalogación as a Biosphere Reserve, the amendment of the Law of Natural Areas of Murcia to remove from the list of sites to protect areas that are seeking to urbanize, the splitting of the of the M-501 in Madrid or the airport of Ciudad Real are some of the most significant examples of which can reach up to the situation in some cases.

Endangered Species

It should be noted that of the 602 species listed as endangered, 363 are in the category of special interest, to which successive court rulings did not recognize the status of "protected" in criminal terms, so that its real protection is much lower. So about 6% of wild species are in the Spanish Catalog and less than 3% have a system of effective protection. On the other hand, less than 5% of endangered species has some kind of autonomous recovery plan, conservation or management.

Climate change

At this very worrying situation of nature conservation in our country, we must add the effects of climate change already present. Some of ecosystems more vulnerable to this problem is precisely the most diverse and rich flora and fauna, such as wetlands, coastal zones or along the shoreline, waterways in general. In other cases, such as mountain areas, they represent the refuge of rare or endangered species with extinction. However, the Spanish authorities still do not take the necessary measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.


Ecologistas en Acción proposed as urgent measures to improve nature conservation in the Spanish State:

1. Increase the human and economic regional administrations and justice in the service of protecting nature.

2. Streamlining the systems of coordination between administrations and combine performance criteria, figures for protection and management mechanisms.

3. Facilitate participation and access to information on this matter counting in the first row with NGOs and scientific institutions.

4. Reviewing the many projects that are likely to seriously affect the natural environment.

5. The adoption and implementation of the Strategic Plan urgent State Natural Heritage and Biodiversity and development and coordinated implementation of strategies and plans in place.

View online : Poll Report of the state of nature conservation in the Spanish State (in spanish)