12 Dec Government declares 67 new hydrological reserves including lakes and aquifers for the first time
- With these additions, the National Catalogue of Hydrological Reserves will now include 289 reserves, including for the first time natural lake and underground reserves.
- For the first time, more than 12 square kilometres (km2) of lakes and 1000 km2 of aquifers are included, added to the new stretches of rivers and those already declared, making a total of more than 3848 km of watercourse under this figure of protection.
- In the Miño-Sil Demarcation it includes 6 new HR, 3 River Nature Reserves, Rio Xares and San Xil, in Galicia, and Rio Ancares in Castilla y León, covering 76 km. 2 Underground Nature Reserves, Pedregal de Irimia in Galicia, and Fuente de la Lechera in Castilla y León, covering 4.2 km2. Finally, 1 Lake Nature Reserve in Castilla y León, the Lagoon Complex of Los Lagos de la Baña, covering 0.08 km2.
- Spain is firmly committed to the preservation of its hydrological capital, which is why MITECO has invested nearly 22 million in conservation measures and improvements to river reserves.
The Council of Ministers, at the proposal of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), has declared 67 hydrological reserves throughout the country, including 26 new river nature reserves and, for the first time, 19 lake nature reserves and 22 underground nature reserves.
The declaration of 26 new river nature reserves and the extension of two river sections, with a length of 518.37 km, brings the total number of such protected areas to 248, covering 3848.51 km. In addition, 19 lake nature reserves with an area of 12.34 km2 and the 22 new underground nature reserves with a surface area of 1077.11 km2 have been added.
This process is the result of the work carried out by the Hydrographic Confederations for the revision of the third cycle hydrological plans (2022-2027). As a result, several stretches of rivers, lakes and groundwater have been identified and included in the new plan that meet the necessary characteristics to become a hydrological reserve. The National Catalogue of Water Reserves, which supports all the technical information on these spaces, currently has 222 river nature reserves: 135 in inter-community basins and 87 belonging to intra-community basins. With these additions, the Catalogue now has 289 reserves.
DEMARCATION OF THE MIÑO-SIL
The document includes 6 new hydrological reserves, 3 of them classified as River Nature Reserves, the Xares and San Xil rivers in Galicia, and the Ancares river in Castilla y León, covering 76 km. 2 Underground Nature Reserves, the Pedregal de Irimia in Galicia, and Fuente de la Lechera in Castilla y León, covering 4.2 km2. Finally, a Lake Nature Reserve located in Castilla y León, the Lagoon Complex of Los Lagos de la Baña, covering 80,000 m2.
SPAIN PROTECTS ITS HYDROLOGICAL CAPITAL
Since its declaration, the Ministry has invested more than 5.5 million in the development of conservation and improvement measures. At present, it has an investment of 3.8 million in execution and is in the process of implementing an investment of close to 14 million in the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Fund. In other words, a total of nearly 22 million euros is invested in preserving these natural areas of great ecological value.
These initiatives include the elimination of abandoned dams and the construction of fish ladders and other actions to permeabilise obstacles, as well as the control of invasive exotic species, the improvement of coastal vegetation, the creation of wetlands and the holding of information sessions. They also include other environmental actions carried out in collaboration with local councils and autonomous communities.
ASSESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS
Because protected areas are places of low human pressure, hydrological reserves are an excellent setting for assessing the effects of climate change on river and lake ecosystems, and those associated with groundwater.
MITECO is currently working to set up a climate change monitoring network in each of the three types of hydrological reserves, where cabinet and field analyses will be carried out to assess changes in meteorological, hydrological, hydrogeological, morphological or riparian vegetation variables, among others.