FunNature & AnimalThree Spanish wetlands that you probably did not know

Three Spanish wetlands that you probably did not know

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance includes more than 2,000 worldwide. Of all of them, Spain has 76. Andalusia has 25 of them, some as important and famous as Doñana or the Bay of Cádiz. In the rest of the territory, the Tablas de Daimiel stand out, in Ciudad Real, the Zamoran Lagunas de Villafáfila or the mistreated Mar Menor. But there are many other relevant wetlands in the national territory, whether due to their ecological characteristics, their richness of species or the presence of endemic species, which do not enjoy the same fame.

The Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia

Although this area is known for the sad events caused by the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker at the end of 2002, it is not usually identified as a “wetland”; in fact, it is the most recent Spanish wetland to enter the Ramsar list. It is made up of a total of 10 islands —among which the Cíes Islands stand out— and 14 islets, and the marine region that surrounds them.

It is described as a landscape of sea and stone . In its territory, which presents marine, coastal and terrestrial environments, there are a total of 17 types of habitat related to the wetland, including a total of 51 sea caves, extraordinary cliffs covered by bands of vegetation, and more than a thousand coastal lagoons.

As for its richness, it presents more than a thousand different species of animals , and another 416 of flora. Among them, endangered species such as the harbor porpoise, the Basque whale, or the critically endangered leatherback turtle stand out, as well as many species of birds such as the maned shearwater, the curlew, the common guillemot, the sooty gull or the yellow-legged gull In addition, these archipelagos have 40 Iberian endemisms , three of them exclusive to the region, among which the Stenosis oteroi gallaecicum beetle stands out.

Ullibarri-Gamboa Reservoir

In this case, and unlike the previous case, we are talking about an artificial wetland system . It is a reservoir whose dam was built in 1956 to supply the cities of Vitoria-Gasteiz and Bilbao with water and energy. Of the entire reservoir, the tails of Zadorra, to the east, and Mendixur, to the south, are on the Ramsar list.

Despite its proximity to the capital of Alava, it is surrounded by natural surroundings . The Provincial Parks of Landa, to the north, and Garaio, located between its tails, stand out. Areas dominated by oak groves and willow forests on the riverbanks.

Despite being an artificial wetland, it represents a key location for a large number of birds, highlighting the Mendixur Ornithological Park , a Special Conservation Area of the Natura 2000 Network, located in the queue of the same name. There you can see bitterns, cinnamon jars, brown pochards and ospreys, all of them critically endangered according to the Red Book of Spanish Birds . The red duck also stands out, of which in some years more than 450 individuals have been counted. Among the mammals, several families of European mink can be found, threatened by the invasive American mink .

Lagoons of Raso de Portillo

This small area is located between the Valladolid municipalities of La Pedraja de Portillo and Aldeamayor de San Martín . That area was a wetland, until its desiccation at the end of the 19th century for agricultural use and as a way to fight malaria transmitted by mosquitoes, and only a small seasonal lagoon remained. The restoration of the area, which was carried out by the Duero Hydrographic Confederation , was carried out between 2012 and 2014, and today the area is made up of the original lagoon, two more artificial lagoons, the Arroyo del Molino —also called Santa María—and the surrounding land. This wetland, which today is not yet among those that make up the Ramsar list, is considered mixed: natural and artificial .

The restoration of this wetland is a good example of how a natural area can be recovered so that it can increase its ecosystem value and recover its former richness , and that can also be visited with few impacts. During its recovery, alder and almond trees were planted to improve the state of the existing vegetation, and the artificial lagoons were connected with the natural one and the stream, through an underground system that helps maintain them. Some central islets were also maintained in both lagoons, which have allowed the nesting of birds, which have returned to this area. These include storks and stilts, shovelers, mallards, coots, plovers, warblers, bee-eaters, and bustards have been sighted.

Andrés, T., Onrubia, A., de Buruaga, MS, Cirujano, S., & Ausejo, JS (2006). Ramsar Wetlands Information Sheet: Tails of the Ullibarri-Gamboa Reservoir.

CHD. (2012). Presentation of the restoration project for the Lagunas del Raso de Portillo.

Madroño, A., González, C., & Atienza, JC (Eds.). (2004). Red book of the birds of Spain (1. ed). Spanish Society of Ornithology (SEO/BirdLife).

WEDNESDAY (2021). Information Sheet of the Ramsar Wetlands: Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia.

WEDNESDAY (2022). The Spanish Ramsar list.


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