By Wendy Williams
ONE of Spain’s most important natural reserves – home to the world’s most endangered wildcat, the Iberian lynx – could be in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Doñana National Park – which is also home to five threatened species of birds – is being threatened by three projects that threaten its fragile ecosystem.
Now the UN’s culture and environment arm has warned Spain it will put the park on the ‘Danger List’ if the schemes go ahead.
In particular, the New York-based body is concerned about a proposed oil pipeline, which would link Huelva and Extremadura skirting close to the park.
In addition, scientists are concerned about a project to dredge the Guadalquivir River and the ongoing problem of illegal farming, which is nibbling at the park’s edges.
While none of the projects have been officially approved, the warnings come after an international mission made up of representatives from UNESCO visited the area in January to assess the risks.
The team concluded that conditions at present are ‘satisfactory’ but they called for the situation to be reviewed in 2013.
WWF boss Juan Carlos del Olmo said: “Donana is part of the environmental history of this country and the natural reserve has earned all its distinctions after years of hard work on the conservation front.
“Unfortunately it is now hanging tough as an island, little by little witnessing how it’s borders are being constantly attacked by three threats that might knock down the future of this iconic protected area.
“It’s the governement’s decision now to make sure Doñana is safe and protected from these three unacceptable and dangerous projects”.