HUMEDALES DE LA MANCHA - Restoration of salt flats around 27 endorheic wetland areas in La Mancha

LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563

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Contact details:

Contact person: Enrique Jesús CALLEJA HURTADO
Tel: +34 926 546255
Fax: +34 926 545793
Email: director@altoguadiana.es

Project description:


The La Mancha wetlands (Humedales de la Mancha) are situated in the region of Castilla-la Mancha, in Spain. The wetland complex consists of the 27 La Mancha wetlands’ Nature 2000 sites (targeted by this project), as well as 15 less well known wetlands in the Ruidera natural park and one in the Daimiel national park.

Some of the water in the wetlands is potable, but in places it can also be saline or hyper saline. The wetlands consist of shallow lakes, with depths of between 1.5 to 2 metres. They form a unique habitat for highly specialised flora and fauna. Some endemic species, such as Helianthemum polygonoides, are threatened. Many migratory birds winter there, including the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), both listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive.

In 1980, the United Nations’ agency, UNESCO, declared the La Mancha wetlands a ‘Biosphere Reserve’, in recognition of their importance for water birds and their rich biodiversity. Moreover, the La Mancha wetlands are among the most species-rich wetlands in Western Europe. In addition, two of the lagoons targeted by this project, Laguna del Pueblo” and “Lago Manjavacas”, are Ramsar sites of international importance.

The wetlands are surrounded by Mediterranean forest, seasonal grasslands and agricultural land (cereals, vineyards and olive trees). The area’s farming activities have the greatest negative impacts on the groundwater and wetland conservation. A significant amount of water is withdrawn for irrigation and the use of nitrate and phosphate has very negative impacts on the wetlands’ biology.


The project targets the recovery of the Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia), a priority habitat of the Habitats Directive, in the 27 La Mancha wetlands’ Natura 2000 sites. The main actions will focus on the purchase of agricultural land surrounding the wetlands to halt their degradation and desiccation, and restore/ recover their hydrological properties. These actions will benefit numerous Annex I bird species.

Expected results:

  • An increase in the surface area of the targeted Limonietalia salt steppes (to over 400 ha);
  • Conservation of the current SPA and SCI areas that provide essential alternative habitats for many species endangered by the loss of suitable wetlands;
  • An increase in the size of the buffer zone (between the wetlands and agricultural lands) and the conservation of the wetlands’ environment. This should result in improved water quality due to a decrease in sedimentation and nutrient run-off;
  • An increase in the public estate (262 ha), giving the regional authority more rights over the management of public access. This should also assist in the task of protecting especially sensitive areas;
  • Knowledge of and recognition of the La Mancha Natura 2000 wetlands (through recreational and environmental education activities) extended to the Ruidera natural park and the Daimiel national park.



Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds
Habitats - Freshwater


biosphere reserve‚  endemic species‚  migratory species‚  natural park‚  protected area‚  wetland‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target Habitat types

  • 92D0 - Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae)
  • 1310 - Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
  • 1410 - Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi)
  • 1420 - Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi)
  • 1510 - Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia)

Natura 2000 sites

SPA ES0000091 ZEPA Humedales de La Mancha



Coordinator Fundación Global Nature
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Alto Guadiana Consorcio is a public agency, created by the Spanish government and the region of Castilla-la Mancha, to promote, manage and implement actions identified in the Special Plan for the Alto Guadiana.
Partners Consejería de Agricultura de Castilla la Mancha, Spain Fundación Global Nature, Spain


Project reference LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563
Duration 01-OCT-2011 to 30-NOV -2016
Total budget 2,599,274.00 €
EU contribution 1,949,454.00 €
Project location Castilla-La Mancha(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Video link "Humedales de La Mancha" (ES - 6')
Video link "La Mancha Wetlands" (EN - 6')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version