The Doñana Natural Space (National and Natural Park) has three dominant ecosystems: dunes, beaches, and marshes. Its geographical position gives rise to a rich biota at a major stopover point in birds’ migration routes and at a very important site for wintering waterfowl. Because of this, Doñana has acquired the highest protected area categories that a natural area can receive from international conservation organizations. Yet Doñana’s ability to support biodiversity is under constant threat due to its proximity to culturally and economically critical locations. The greatest external problems center on agriculture and tourism, which extract enormous amounts of groundwater which then alter hydrological dynamics. Excessive nutrients, roads, commercial navigation, pilgrimages, and several programed projects are additional pressures that could be aggravated by climate change. Inside the Space, overpopulations of domestic and wild ungulates, pathogens, and invasive species have changed its ecology. Doñana is managed by two operational programs implemented by a committee of 60 stakeholders. Both areas have been divided into conservation zones and very recently have been included in an extension of the old Biosphere Reserve with a Core Area (National Park), a Buffer Area (Natural Park), and a Transition Area. In the past 40 years, Doñana has received about US$900 million: this has increased not only conservation efforts in the area but also the economic level of local residents. Conflicts are lessening but pressures are mounting. More collaboration between administrations, more active local participation, more firmness concerning illegal activities, more expert technical advice, and more funding will be needed in the near future to preserve this unique natural heritage.
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Article Case| December 31 2017
Doñana Natural Space: The Uncertain Future of a Crown Jewel in Europe’s Protected Areas
Case Studies in the Environment (2017) 1 (1): 1–12.
Carlos Fernández-Delgado; Doñana Natural Space: The Uncertain Future of a Crown Jewel in Europe’s Protected Areas. Case Studies in the Environment 31 December 2017; 1 (1): 1–12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2017.000570
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