The significance of landscape scales in the functions and values of wetlands: an example from southern Europe (Spain).

Duenas, Manuel A. ORCID: 2008 The significance of landscape scales in the functions and values of wetlands: an example from southern Europe (Spain). [Speech] In: Workshop of Wetlands and aquatic ecosystems: their functions and values., Worcester Collage, Oxford University., 24th -25th November 2008.

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More than half of the inland wetlands that existed in Spain in the last 200 years have been drained for agricultural development. One such example is La Janda, which was drained during the 1960s. Located on Spain’s Atlantic coast, 50 km from the Straits of Gibraltar, La Janda was the largest freshwater marsh in Spain (50 km2). Migrating Palaearctic birds can no longer use La Janda’s strategic location as a bridge between Europe and Africa, although the area still attracts huge numbers of resident and migrant birds. Other functions, such as water-quality improvement and flood-water retention, have also disappeared. The culture and natural richness of the area still remain in the surrounding mountains - reflected in 4,000-year-old cave paintings unique to southern Europe. Today, rice, cotton and maize are among the crops cultivated on La Janda’s intensively irrigated land. We need to explore land-use potential beyond the requirements of agriculture, however. La Janda’s functions and values were related closely to its vast size, its position in the landscape and its geographical location. If it existed today, La Janda would represent nearly 80% of the total area occupied by protected wetlands in the south of Spain. It is necessary to take account of scale in relation to the restoration and conservation of this kind of ecosystem. Rather than conserve small wetlands, which are unable to optimise efficient ecosystem functioning, criteria based on size, landscape and location could be used in conservation planning in order to increase the efficiency and range of aquatic ecosystem functions.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Speech)
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water > WA03 Developing strategic data and knowledge at a catchment scale to enable the wiser management of the water environment
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
Date made live: 05 Aug 2010 15:22 +0 (UTC)

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