Adrian Arias | Valladolid (EFE).- In the middle of the last century, a ‘sea’ bathed what is now cereal crops in Castilian Tierra de Campos: a wetland of up to 5,000 hectares known as the Mar de Campos, which was dried up in the 1960s, and which today an initiative of Global Nature has managed to partially recover after three decades of projects.
The “Doñana de la meseta norte” was a vast lagoon, one of the most important on the peninsula, which covered an extensive area in the south of the province of Palencia and which the Franco regime ordered to be drained to convert the land into farmland and fight also malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes in humid and unhealthy areas, the Global Nature technician David Miguélez recounted in an interview with Agencia EFE on the occasion of Wetlands Day.
Although the project to drain the wetland came even from past centuries with the Catholic Monarchs, it was not until 1966 when the Mar de Campos disappeared and with it a marshy habitat with exceptional fauna and flora for its enclave.
That is when, in the 1990s, Global Nature presented a project to recover one of the areas that flooded the old lagoon at its peak, located in the municipality of Fuentes de Nava (Palencia), hence, in At present, this wetland is given the name of La Nava, although the project also includes those of Boada and Pedraza de Campos.
450 hectares recovered
With seasonal contributions of water from the nearby Canal de Castilla, the project has managed to recover 450 hectares of wetland in these three decades in a “successful experience” that the foundation is now trying to replicate in areas with similar characteristics such as El Hito (Cuenca). .
Due to this work of conservation of the marsh habitat, throughout these thirty years the La Nava project has accumulated several Life programs of the European Union aimed at the recovery and protection of the environment.
At this time, with a time frame of 2020-2024, the team of three Global Nature technicians working on the project are focusing their studies on the capacity of these wetlands to fix CO2, since “wetlands have a capacity to sequester carbon higher than a forest”, highlights Miguélez.
In this way, although only a small part of that original wetland has been recovered, the idea is to increase it little by little because technically it is “viable”, although the difficulties lie in the fact that the attached land is now crops and buildings, which would prevent in many cases flooding the land.
However, with the 450 ha recovered, La Nava has already become an authentic oasis in the middle of the cereal fields and the protagonists are the birds, with emblematic species such as the goose or the browed warbler, whose protection focused a Life program .
In total, 253 species of vertebrates are catalogued, highlighting the 221 species of birds, which account for just over 41 percent of the bird species in Spain, including the islands.
Impact on empty Spain
Neither the Catholic Monarchs nor the Franco regime were aware of the benefits of a habitat such as wetlands for an ecosystem, nor its CO2 capture, nor how attractive it could be for tourism, hence their firm decision was to dry it out in order to have more farmland.
However, today society, as Miguélez points out, looks at wetlands with different eyes and sees in them an “opportunity to find other sources of wealth, such as tourism”, which is why both the Junta de Castilla y León, such as the Diputación de Palencia and the Fuentes de Nava City Council have opted to convert the less productive agricultural areas into wetlands.
Currently, La Nava receives some 12,000 visits per year and increasing this number is one of the purposes of the regional government so that this habitat, included in the Natura 2000 Network and declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA), is once again bathed by a ‘sea’.EFE