LIFE ALBUFERA - Integrated management of three artificial wetlands in compliance with the Water Framework, Bird and Nitrates Directives

LIFE12 ENV/ES/000685

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Contact details:

Contact person: Miguel Martín Monerris
Tel: 0034963877617
Fax: 0034963877617
Email: mmartin@hma.upv.es

Project description:


Albufera Lake is located some 12 km south of Valencia. It is a shallow freshwater lake with a surface of over 2 400 ha and separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a significant sand bank. The lake and surrounding wetlands are protected as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) under the EU Habitats Directive.

The lake is also an important site for birds, particularly migratory species that use it as a resting and nesting site. Many rare bird species live in the area, including the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala). So the lake and its surrounding areas are also protected as a Special Protected Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive.

However, despite the various levels and forms of protection, the lake water is of poor quality and fails to meet the quality objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Specifically, the lake is hypertrophic, meaning that there is an excess of nutrients in the water.

Efforts to improve water quality in the area have already been undertaken. Notably three artificial wetlands – green filters - have been created from original rice crops since 2008. However there is insufficient understanding to comply fully with the management requirements of the Natura 2000 network, achieve WFD objectives and meet the complementary objectives of improving the habitats of important bird populations.


The LIFE ALBUFERA project aims to demonstrate effective management of artificial wetlands in a natural area to achieve a double objective: improving water quality; and improving the habitat of important bird species. It thus hopes to demonstrate a means of meeting the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive and the objectives of the Birds and Habitats directives.

The project will define, implement and optimise management procedures for three artificial wetlands in the area of the Albufera lake, with the goal of enabling each hectare of artificial wetland to treat 5 000 m3 of lake water per month, removing excess nutrients. It will monitor the impact of these measures on water quality as the water passes through the wetland.

Linking the water quality improvement with biodiversity benefits, the project will set management objectives and criteria for restoring the ecological potential of the wetland in terms of bird and fish populations. Notably, it will define a methodology for determining good status indicators for bird conservation and conduct monitoring of the effects on the breeding birds that are most sensitive to water quality.

Finally, the project will conduct an assessment of the socio-economic impact of the management measures on the local economy and population. The project thus expects to deliver an overall understanding of the impact and benefits of artificial wetland management and promote the widespread use of this technique in the EU to achieve multiple environmental goals.

Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results:

  • Definition of the most adequate management rules for artificial wetlands;
  • Treatment of 450 000 m3/month of water from the Albufera lake;
  • An improvement of at least 30% in standard water quality variables – including content of suspended solids, phosphorous, nitrogen and chlorophyll;
  • Improvement of the conservation status of habitats and biodiversity – including notable benefits to important migratory bird species;
  • A contribution to the achievement of the goals of the WFD, Habitats Directive and Birds; and
  • A set of recommendations on the management of wetland Natura 2000 sites and delivery of River Basin Management Plans.



Environmental issues addressed:


Land-use & Planning - Sensitive and protected areas management


natural park‚  protected area‚  biodiversity‚  water quality improvement‚  wetland

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation University
Description The Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA) of the Technical University of Valencia covers nine areas of research, including water treatment, microbiology, water ecosystems and management of water resources.
Partners Acció Ecologista-Agró, Spain Fundación Global Nature, Spain Sociedad Española de Ornitología, Spain


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/ES/000685
Duration 01-OCT-2013 to 30-SEP -2016
Total budget 1,446,234.00 €
EU contribution 723,117.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España)


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