Doñana begins to regrow after having entered a critical phase last summer.
The last rains in December have brought life back to its permanent lagoons and the emblematic reserve has recovered its pulse and biodiversity.
Since September, 208 liters have been collected in the park, an amount close to what rained throughout the past year between September and May, when 280 liters were collected.
After the Santa Olalla lagoon dried up completely at the end of August and the fresh water disappeared from the protected space, little by little the largest wetland in the park has been filled with migratory birds that have returned en masse.
There is still a lot of rain to fall to recover its levels of yesteryear, but the trend is hopeful, explain the scientists.
"This Monday, Santa Olalla is full of ducks and flamingos, and it is probably a meter deep in the center and the Dulce [adjoining lagoon] is 70 centimeters deep," explains biologist Carmen Díaz, a researcher at the Biological Station of Doñana, belonging to the CSIC.
Right after, the scientist clarifies that those 208 liters have soaked and the birds have returned, but the road ahead for the total recovery of biodiversity is long.
“We do not believe that this recovers so soon.
Of the eight gaps, only the two main ones have been filled.
The serious thing is that they would dry up, fill up with tamarisks and the fish and aquatic plants would die," he adds about lagoons like Zahíllo, still dry and less than a kilometer from the Matalascañas macro-urbanization, where 150 gather every summer.
The drought, but also the massive plunder caused by the illegal wells for the intensive agriculture of red berries and Matalascañas gradually dried up Doñana until it reached its lowest point at the end of August, when Santa Olalla dried up.
Only twice before, in 1995 and 1983, had this sanctuary for migratory birds disappeared.
The reserve's aquifer is still low and two years ago the government declared it "overexploited."
Only now has the Efraín
broken the long losing streak.
If the annual average is 540 liters over the last 40 years, in October and November 50 liters fell and this month 158.
Aerial view of the Santa Olalla lagoon in Doñana, last August.
/ DOÑANA BIOLOGICAL STATION (CSIC)
The director of the Doñana Biological Station, Eloy Revilla, reduces enthusiasm and eliminates any hint of triumphalism: “The water only serves to prevent further damage, we are far from recovering the marshes and the lagoons.
This for degradation, serves for human consumption in the Guadalquivir basin and winter crops such as cereal can be planted.
Revilla recalls that Santa Olalla already began to recover when the vacationers left Matalascañas on September 1, because the water table rose as extractions for tourism consumption decreased.
Historically, the rains reached Doñana in autumn and spring, but in the last decade the trend has changed and now it rains especially in winter, a pattern extended throughout the Mediterranean arc, experts warn.
These recent rains have occurred in the meteorological winter, which began on December 1.
The falling water has brought life back to the most significant wetlands and has revitalized their richness, but also that of the extensive Doñana marshes, where migratory birds also stop on their way to Africa.
The scientific manager of the park's monitoring program, Javier Bustamante, highlights the great resilience of Doñana: “200 liters is not much because only 100 liters are required to soak the ground.
The rain creates opportunities for species and allows them to recover and there are explosions of species such as the San Antonio frog and the gallipato [a newt]”.
The Santa Olalla lagoon, this Monday, from one of its shores.
/ CARMEN DIAZ (CSIC)
Among the species that have benefited from the latest rains, the spurred toads, the spotted toad or the spotted toad, together with the dragonflies, which can hatch now, also stand out.
“Sometimes the species make their investment, but since there is not enough water, there is a reproductive failure.
With the flooding the plant germinates, but if it dries up it does not produce seeds and goes down, this failure depletes the resilience of the plants”, illustrates Díaz.
In the current wintering of the reserve, 87,488 waterfowl are recorded, the lowest figure in the last four decades and far from the 470,000 specimens recorded in the 2020-2021 season, according to data from the aerial censuses carried out by the Biological Station Doñana and prior to the last rains.
Given the progressive deterioration of the park, the Administrations have reacted after the warning cries of scientists and ecologists.
The Andalusian Junta (PP) has left behind the plan of the right when a year ago it proposed to increase the irrigation of strawberries in 1,460 hectares on the edge of Doñana through a bill that has now only been recaptured by Vox.
And the Ministry for Ecological Transition three weeks ago presented a shock plan with 356 million to buy agricultural farms, transfer surveys to Matalascañas and carry out channeling works that recover the aquifer and marshes.
Both Administrations will meet on December 28, at an appointment between the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, and the Andalusian Minister of Sustainability, the Environment and the Blue Economy, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco.
Aerial view of the Santa Olalla lagoon, this Monday.
ICTS/ Doñana Biological Station
In the last Doñana Participation Council held last week, Fernández-Pacheco admitted that the Board's plan to protect the Doñana aquifer and in force since 2014 has very serious shortcomings.
The Huelva delegation of this council warned that it was urgent to provide personnel and economic funds to meet objectives ignored for eight years, and the councilor picked up the glove and said that his intention was to correct the course after an entire legislature lost due to his predecessor, Carmen Crespo.
Asked by this newspaper his
of him, the Andalusian vice-councillor Sergio Arjona, about investment and personnel figures, he threw balls out: "It will soon be known," he argued concisely.
Everything indicates that the recent rains will reinforce the change in political strategy of the Board and the investment commitment of the Ministry to give a breather to the biodiversity of Doñana and thus flourish again.
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