Government saves lynx, black stork and Iberian wolf colonies
THE Government has ditched plans to build a 300-kilometre motorway between Andalucía and central Spain over fears colonies of the endangered Iberian lynx were at risk.
The road linking Toledo with Córdoba would have cut through the Sierra Toledo and the Sierra Morena mountain ranges – two of the last global refuges of the nocturnal, wild cat.
Colonies of protected birdlife and the sole remaining habitat of the Iberian wolf in the south of Spain were also in danger had plans for the AP41 toll road gone ahead, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment said.
Environmentalists welcomed the Government’s decision to shelve the plans.
Juan Carlos del Olmo, the Secretary General in Spain of wildlife protection group WWF, said: “The road was one of the most damaging, absurd and unnecessary plans the government had ever come up with.
“Many protected species would have been wiped out.”
Bird group SEO had voiced their concerns as the multi-million-euro road would also destroyed nesting sites of the imperial eagle and endangered black stork in the Sierra Moreno.
“Fortunately, wildlife has defeated construction for once,” spokesman Alejandro Sánchez said.
The Ministry of Public Works is now considering alternatives for the road, one of which is believed to run parallel with the existing Madird-Córdoba AVE high speed rail track.
The Iberian lynx is the most endangered feline in the world, with only 250 remaining in the wild – all in Spain. The last recorded sighting of the cat in Portugal was in 2001.
Their numbers have fallen dramatically over the past 150 years in the Iberia peninsula, with farming, poaching and traffic the main reasons for their demise.
Another important factor is a drop in numbers of the lynx’s principal food source – the rabbit
This is not the first construction project the Government has stopped in recent years.
In 2005, three controversial reservoir projects in Segovia, Teruel and Lugo were paralyzed before work on a gas centre in the centre of Sevilla was stopped following negative environmental impact reports.
The Ministry of the Environment, headed by Cristina Narbona, also proposed tough new measures last week to stop town halls reclassifying protected land.