Waterbirds represent one of the indicators of the health and diversity of a natural ecosystem and provide an insight into the state of its biodiversity.
With our support, Fundación Global Nature (FGN) – a non-profit organization dedicated to nature conservation in Spain – has been able to grow the number of aquatic birds by 31% over the past 2 years in the nature reserves managed by them. Their wetlands also attracted 23% more cranes, an iconic and elegant wading bird.
Wetlands and watered areas are the habitats for many bird species. They are also internationally essential grounds for migratory birds. Unfortunately, around the world wetland habitats have been disappearing, and the birds they support, including many once considered common, are in sharp decline.
Agricultural intensification, changes in land use, rural abandonment and uncontrolled dumping have been major drivers of that decline. Since wetland birds rely on moist areas for food and cover, wetland losses have caused the decline of many of these species.
Fundación Global Nature (FGN) has been focused on restoring natural priority habitats to wetlands. Their research into the conservation of such lands showed that due to agricultural plowing on its shores and siltation due to the dragging of sediments, watered areas have decreased their ecological value.
Together with farmers and local and regional authorities, FGN has raised awareness and provided farmers with tools to make agricultural activity compatible with nature conservation.
Example project El Hito lagoon
The El Hito lagoon is a perfect example of how sustainable agriculture goes hand in hand with nature conservation. The project aims to demonstrate that the conservation of cranes, steppe birds and unique plant species is perfectly compatible with the agricultural uses of the territory.
The Laguna de El Hito Nature Reserve is a natural space included in the European Natura 2000 network and considered a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO. It is home to an excellent representation of the saline steppe landscapes of the Mediterranean and has unique priority habitats and endangered species. It is also used for agricultural purposes.
The lagoon is also the second most important wintering area for cranes in Spain, and both the wetland and the surrounding saline areas and crops are of vital importance for numerous bird species, with special relevance for steppe birds.