Wetlands in Castilla La Mancha

We have been working on the wetlands in Castilla La Mancha since 1999, especially in the Natura 2000 site “Wetlands of La Mancha”. These areas constitute an oasis of biodiversity and accommodate unique habitats and species, many considered to be of priority conservation interest by the EU.

In 1999, conservation activities started up thanks to the “Wetlands of Villacañas” LIFE project, with the aim of recovering the saline meadows in “Limonietalia” as well as other saline formations around three lagoons in Villacañas (Toledo). Since then, our efforts have continually grown.

We have coordinated a project supported by the European Commission called LIFE “Wetlands of La Mancha”. This initiative has been developed jointly with the Castilla La Mancha Regional Government and it finished at the end of 2016. The project intended to preserve the saline steppes surrounding 27 lagoons in La Mancha located in the Natura 2000 Network. The ecosystems of Mediterranean saline steppes are unique in Europe and the Habitat Directive (Directive 92/43/CEE) considers their conservation to be a priority. They accommodate characteristic species of flora and fauna, such as esparto grass (Lygeum spartum) or sea-lavender (Limonium sp.), and are only comparable to certain lakeside complexes located in Mongolia and North Africa. These habitats have suffered a notable decline in recent decades.

The actions carried out include direct conservation, purchase of land, environmental awareness-raising and collaboration with the farming sector. The project’s main activity has been the acquisition of land with high natural value so that, after their purchase, conservation actions could be carried out such as the closure of ditches and ponds, the modification of paths or the plantation of autochthonous species. Plants have been grown from seeds obtained in the area at the nursery in Malagón, and the Royal Botanical Garden (managed by the Higher Science Research Council, CSIC) has advised on the planning of the plantations. Following the conclusion of this project the nursery will continue to produce specimens to extend the restoration activities around lagoons. The monitoring of the fauna has included censuses of the water fowl and studies of the arthropods (in collaboration with the National Natural Science Museum, MNCN-CSIC) that have improved our understanding and data about these spaces. In order to ensure the project’s monitoring, a freely-accessible geographic information system has also been developed. More than 4,000 pupils have participated in workshops and guided tours organized by the project in collaboration with the schools. The Global Nature Foundation has supported the production and marketing of ecological agrarian produce from the Natura 2000 Network. Agreements have been signed with producers of legumes (chickpeas from Pedrosillo, brown lentils and flat lentils), and their efforts also enable the conservation of steppe bird populations, such as great bustards or little bustards.

The project received the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Commission, the Biodiversity Foundation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment, the Gas Natural Fenosa power utility, Actionatura and COMSERMANCHA. The town councils of the ten municipalities in the area (Alcázar de San Juan, Campo de Criptana, Las Mesas, Las Pedroñeras, Lillo, Mota del Cuervo, Pedro Muñoz, Quero, Villacañas and Villafranca de los Caballeros) have played a key role in furthering the project.

Summary of project results – Layman report (poner el Layman en pdf)

Project web page: www.humedalesdelamancha.es

Tour via a virtual map

Desde 1993 dedicados a la conservación de la naturaleza y la funcionalidad de los ecosistemas

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