By Eloise Horsfield
UNESCO is tripling the size of the Biosphere Reserve around the Donana National Park.
In a move which will give crucial extra protection to Spain’s most important reserve, the protection zone will be extended by one nautical mile out to sea and take in 14,000 more hectares of forest.
The plan, welcomed by WWF and Ecologistas en Accion, will see the reserve grow to 268,000 hectares, spreading over 14 municipalities across the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cadiz.
The good news comes though as ecologists ratched up pressure on the authorities over increasing amounts of sewage still entering the park.
A spokesman for Ecologistas en Accion spoke of the ‘shame’ that the biggest protected area in Europe should be used as a dumping ground for sewage.
Towns such as Almonte, Rociana and Bollullos still regularly dispose of their waste water in the park.
The practice has already led to Spain getting fined by the European courts for failing to respect EU water treatment laws in 38 towns.
But the pollution still continues.
Green groups have also expressed concern at the low water levels in the park – a situation set to worsen if plans to dredge the Guadalquivir River go ahead.
It has led to calls for the resignation of Felipe Gonzalez, Spain’s former prime minister, from Donana’s board after he failed to show up to three key meetings in a row.