Spain Designates Five Ramsar Sites
12 June 2012: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) has announced that the Government of Spain has designated five new Wetlands of International Importance, bringing Spain's total number of Ramsar Sites to 73, the third highest number of sites among Contracting Parties.
The first site, Lagunas de Campotejar, located in the Murcia region, is important for wintering, staging and reproduction of several water bird species. The site is threatened by invasive plant species, and activities carried out on the site include research and environmental education.
The second site, Lagunas de las Moreras, also located in the Murcia region, includes a stretch of the irregular stream Las Moreras that discharges into the Mediterranean Sea. The site is an important area for wintering, staging and reproduction of many species of waterfowl, including internationally endangered and vulnerable species. Activities carried out on the site, which is of cultural and archaeological significance, include sheep grazing, research, environmental education and tourism. The site faces the following threats: erosion and siltation; agricultural pollution; and invasive species.
The third site, Ría de Villaviciosa, located in the Asturias region, is an estuary on the Cantabrian coast, and supports a wide diversity of species of flora and fauna, including internationally threatened species. Activities carried out on the site, which is of cultural and archaeological interest, include tourism and environmental education. It is threatened by water contamination and invasive species.
The fourth site, Saladas de Sástago-Bujaraloz, located in the Aragón region, is a complex of seasonal saline lakes, and supports a wide range of species specifically adapted to extreme saline environments, including several threatened and endemic species. Activities carried out on the site, which is of cultural importance, include rain-fed agriculture, research and nature tourism. Threatening factors include the possible future transformation from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture, and the use of some of the lakes as a waste dump.
The fifth site, Tremedales de Orihuela, located in the Aragón region, is a high mountain site offering habitat to over 600 different plant species, 32 of them endemic, as well as various species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates, some of them threatened globally. Activities carried out on the site include livestock feeding, forestry, fishing, hunting, research and recreational activities. The alteration of the hydrological regime due to water abstraction, changes in traditional land management, and touristic pressure threaten the site.
Spain's designations contribute to one of the goals contained in the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan for 2009-2015, which is to reach a protected area of 250 million hectares by 2015. [Ramsar Press Release]