Leading supermarkets across Europe including Sainsbury’s. Waitrose, Tesco and Asda are calling on authorities in Andalucia to halt plans to allow more strawberry farms near protected wetlands.

A public letter written to regional president Juanma Moreno to mark World Water Day on March 22 was signed by major food companies across Europe in support of the WWF Spain.

It warned Moreno not to approve a plan that would allow the creation of new farms in an area already threatened by water theft that has drained vulnerable aquifers.

Moreno is studying legislation that could approve more agriculture within the Donaña National Park, one of Spain’s most valuable wetlands and a UNESCO protected wildlife site.

The marshes are visited by millions of migrating birds each year and the area is also home to a sizeable population of endangered Iberian lynxes.

Some 1,900 acres of the park is occupied by greenhouses cultivating strawberries.

“The existing special plan is an important tool to ensure more sustainable cultivation at the origin of the supply chain,” they say. “We are concerned that the proposed changes undermine this goal and endanger the Doñana national park,” says the letter.

“Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure the sustainability of water and soil management in Doñana in the long term,” it continues.

“Should this not succeed, we believe that the reputation and the long-term development of the region as a supply area are at risk.”

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