EAA and Living Rivers Europe denounce severe threats to the Doñana National Park

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14 Apr

On 8 April, the European Anglers Alliance, its partners of the Living Rivers Europe coalition and a large group of civil society organisations sent an open letter to the European Parliament regarding the dramatic situation of the Doñana National Park.

The Doñana National Park is a natural reserve in the south of Spain, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Despite its unique biodiversity and protected status, the area is plagued with many illegal wells and farms which contribute to the unsustainable use of water and to the overexploitation of the aquifer.

Against this background and pointing to the lack of reaction from the Spanish authorities, the European Commission took the Spanish government to court over its failure to fulfil its obligations under the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive. In June 2021, the EU Court of Justice ruled against Spain, due to the “excessive extractions of groundwater.”

But the situation is still catastrophic in Spain and actions to address the problem have not been effective so far. Spanish Members of the European Parliament recently alerted the Commission on the situation, through multiple parliamentary questions (here, here and here). In response, the Commission expressed its concerns but has so far failed to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of the Doñana National Park.

What’s more is that a majority in the Andalusian Parliament is pushing for a legislative proposal which would repeal the main measures of the current management plan, meaning that the illegal farms would be able to legally exploit water in the buffer zone around the park, deteriorating further the situation, most likely by increasing the already unsustainable use of water and by threatening local fish populations.

That is why 30 civil society organisations, under the umbrella of the Living Rivers Europe coalition, have sent an open letter to Pascal Canfin, the Chair of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament. They call on the European Parliament to “denounce the severe attack on this unique wetland which might constitute a negative precedent for the implementation of the EU environmental acquis.”

Read the letter in full here.
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