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Spanish government's Teresa Ribera and the Junta's Juanma Moreno at the Doñana National Park on Monday. EFE
Spain's national government and Junta de Andalucía strike 1.4 billion deal to help protect endangered Doñana wetlands
Environment

Spain's national government and Junta de Andalucía strike 1.4 billion deal to help protect endangered Doñana wetlands

The agreement puts an end to two years of political negotiations and promises to compensate affected farmers 100,000 euros per hectare if they return their land to nature or grow crops that do not need irrigating

Héctor Barbotta

Seville

Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 10:49

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The Spanish government and the Junta de Andalucía have pledged to invest 1.4 billion euros in an agreement to protect the endangered Doñana National Park located in the south-west of the region, covering some 14 municipalities in the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cadiz..

The deal puts an end to two years of negotiations after the Junta proposed controversial plans to legalise more use of water for irrigation from an area close to the famous protected wetlands. The national park is threatened by climate change and illegal irrigation and is drying it out at an alarming rate.

As part of the measures agreed on Monday, farmers who agree to stop irrigating and convert their land to forest or adopt rain-fed or sustainable crops will receive 100,000 euros in aid per hectare (10,000 euros per year for a decade). The national government will contribute 70%, the Junta 20% and the Huelva provincial government will chip in the remaining 10%.

The deal affects the entire area of the national park which covers 14 towns and villages in the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cadiz. About 38% of the area's population are linked to the agricultural sector. Monday's deal now aims to alleviate pressure on the aquifer that feeds the park, while also offering farmers in the area an alternative to continue carrying out their work.

The deal has the backing of the Corona Norte irrigation platform, a group that brings together farmers whose lands were excluded from a special plan nearly ten years ago to control the amount of water that could be used on farmland around the protected area. Junta de Andalucía president Juanma Moreno said: "Everyone wins and no one loses in this agreement".

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