- Spain is arguably the most biodiverse country in Europe. It is also the country with the largest surface area of terrestrial protected areas, covering around 27% of its land mass. However, many of Spain’s 3,705 protected areas lack effective management and public support, and though they have extensive coverage, more than 55% of Spain’s habitats are considered in poor condition under the Habitats Directive
The European Nature Trust / Terabithia Wild / Fotos: Eduardo Fernández
The team of The European Nature Trust are collaborators with the Nuestros Espacios Protegidos (i.e. Our Protected Areas) initiative. The project aims to foster national pride and public support for Spain’s protected areas, increase their size and, most importantly, improve their management and conservation. Nuestros Espacios Protegidos has selected the Upper Tagus region as a model site for improving the management of one of the wildest regions in Western Europe. The Upper Tagus region is home to more than 400,000 ha of continuous Natura 2000 reserves, including two contiguous nature parks covering 180,000 ha. As part of the Iberian Mountain Range, this region includes the unspoilt upper reaches of the Tagus River – the longest in the Iberian Peninsula – a wide range of forest and grassland habitats and abundant wildlife populations; all situated in one of the least populated regions in Europe, with less than 1.5 inhabitants/km2. In the coming years, TENT will support the activities of Nuestros Espacios Protegidos in communicating and demonstrating the value of healthy, well-managed protected areas to local rural communities. TENT believes in the value of participatory public-private partnerships for the management and improvement of protected areas.
“Our goal is to communicate in a clear and effective manner the great diversity of values and benefits associated with Spanish protected areas”Ignacio Jiménez, director of Nuestros Espacios Protegidos
We Champion Spain’s Protected Areas, With A Focus On The Upper Tagus Region
The Nuestros Espacios Protegidos initiative aims to work with environmental authorities, local governments, other NGOs and local associations to turn the Alto Tajo and Serranía de Cuenca nature parks into highly effective protected areas that offer conservation and restoration of ecosystems while improving the quality of life of local communities. In addition, the NGO hopes to showcase this type of collaborative conservation as an inspiration for other protected areas in Spain and for the Spanish public in general.
Ongoing and future activities include participatory processes to create Spain’s 17th national park within this region, the promotion and regulation of public use within the Alto Tajo natural park, supporting local villages to treat their water sewage systems, conservation outreach with children and youth, and reducing the effects of hunting.