Doñana: 30 NGOs urge the EU to protect park from water theft

Posted on April, 08 2022

30 environmental NGOs are calling on the European Parliament to take action on the alarming situation in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Doñana National Park in Spain.
As a result of water extraction, mainly for unlicensed strawberry farms, the Doñana wetlands are drying out, and its wildlife is under threat. Despite the EU Court of Justice’s June 2021 ruling that this excessive pumping is against EU law,  the Andalusian regional government wants to decriminalise 1,900  hectares of illegal strawberry farms around the reserve. If the proposal passes, it will amnesty 85% of the illicit crops neighbouring the national park and put the fragile ecosystems Doñana supports at serious risk. 

The proposal has been strongly opposed by environmental, social and trade union organisations, consumers, researchers, and even a significant number of Doñana's law-abiding farmers. Despite this opposition, the Andalusian parliament is pushing on with the approval process. 

“We cannot stand aside while water theft is pushing Doñana to the verge of collapse, said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office. “Decriminalising these illegal farms would breach the Water Framework Directive and Habitats Directive. The EU needs to push back firmly. 

WWF and this coalition of 30 NGOs will closely monitor the situation in Doñana in the upcoming months. We call on the European Parliament to join us in denouncing this proposal and to ensure that Doñana is protected as required by EU law.