• NGO says 4,000 species at risk due to dredging, farming and mining activities
• UNESCO says World Heritage site in danger if Spain’s government does not act
WWF España, the Spanish affiliate of global environmental organisation WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature), has called on Spain’s government to take immediate steps to halt dredging, illegal farming, mining and gas exploration projects that it says threaten the very existence of the Doñana wetlands nature preserve, a UNESCO-designated world heritage site formed by the Guadalquivir River in Andalucía, a stop-off point for six million migratory birds each year and home to thousands of species of wildlife.
In 2015, UNESCO told the Spanish government that it would place the World Heritage site on its endangered list if the government did not stop a deep-dredging project in the Guadalquivir River. WWF also cites as threats to the Doñana reserve some 1,000 illegal water wells draining water from the wetlands to supply nearly 3,000 hectars of illegal farmlands, gas exploration by a subsidiary of Spain’s Gas Natural-Fenosa and a permit issued this year to Grupo México to re-open the Aznalcóllar pyrite mine, closed in 2002 for spilling toxic residue into a tributary of the Guadalquivir.
The 209-square-mile Doñana preserve was established along the Guadalquivir estuary where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean in the 1960s, party on land purchased and then donated by WWF España’s predecessor, the Asociación para la Defensa de la Naturaleza (Association for the Defense of Nature). The preserve is today home to more than 4,000 species of wildlife, including the endangered Iberian lynx and the Spanish imperial eagle.
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