Spain to face EC wrath for failing to protect special areas of conservation 

22 October 2009

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Spain —

Spain is in trouble yet again with the European Commission. The government has 10 weeks to explain to the EC why it hasn’t done anything to resolve a five year drought that is causing uncontrollable fires at the protected Tablas de Daimiel National Wetlands Park, according to the EU’s executive branch.

Brussels has opened an investigation into the degradation of the park, which has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981. Las Tablas, located in Castilla-La Mancha, is one of 14 national parks in Spain. According to a recent environmental study, the peat bogs upon which the park stands have dried and cracked, allowing oxygen to filter into the ground. When air reacts with the dry peat, which was formed over 300,000 years without oxygen, it creates self combusting matter, and has caused a considerable number of fires at the reserve.

Last week, the EC decided to look into a complaint filed by environmentalists, who claim that the government hasn’t ordered the diversion of water to the park in a bid to limit the damage. Brussels’ inquiry, which could last a year, will focus on whether Spain is failing to comply with a 1992 EC directive to protect special areas of conservation.

The Agriculture and Environment Ministry is expected to approve a plan next week to divert at least 1,000 cubic meters of water from the Tagus River to the park. But it remains unclear if this can be done before an EC delegation visits the zone this year. Park authorities have warned that some of the damage to the wetlands is already irreversible.

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