Donana National Park is home to one of Europe’s largest wetlands.
Source: AFP

Spain has vowed to block a regional plan to legalise farming near one of Europe’s largest and fauna-rich wetlands, where water supplies have plunged due to climate change and agriculture.

The proposal to rezone lands near the huge Donana National Park in the southern Andalusia region comes amid a prolonged drought and it has drawn the ire of Brussels.

The area is home to many rare species such as the Iberian lynx and on the route of millions of migratory birds, including flamingos, spoonbills and ibis.

“Donana will not be touched, Donana is the heritage of Andalusians, of all Spaniards,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned.

Andalusia’s parliament voted Wednesday to consider the plan proposed by the region’s conservative Popular Party (PP) government.

If it becomes law, roughly 2,000 hectares (3,700 acres) near the park and its endangered wetlands will be declared irrigable.

This would grant an amnesty to many unauthorised farms, mainly growing strawberries, that have sprouted here.

A final vote on the proposal — which is also backed by far-right party Vox — is due soon. It is expected to pass as the PP and Vox have a majority in the regional parliament.

Sanchez’s government has said it will challenge the proposal in court if approved.

Sitting on an estuary where the Guadalquivir River meets the Atlantic Ocean, the park streetches across 100,000 hectares of forests, lagoons, marshes and dunes.

Not enough water

A waterhole at Spain’s Donana Natural Park which is feeling the effects of a prolonged drought.
Source: AFP

A study by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) published last week said 59 percent of the park’s largest lagoons have not been filled “since at least 2013”.

It blamed changes in temperature and precipation in the area, as well as the “increase in the amount of cultivated land”.

Defenders of the proposal argue it will help farmers who missed out during a previous regularisation of farms in the area in 2014 under a Socialist government.

The PP …


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