Dunas Albufera - Model of restoration of dunes habitats in 'L'Albufera de Valencia'

LIFE00 NAT/E/007339

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Vicente ALEIXANDRE ROIG
Tel: +34961610021
Fax: +34961610037
Email: odevesa@ayto-valencia.es

Project description:


The 'Albufera de Valencia' Nature Park contains the last enclave in the Valencia Region where there is still a good example of dune vegetation of great biological and scenic interest. Between the lake and the coastline is the 'Devesa del Saler', consisting mainly of chains of mobile and fixed dunes. The vegetation is characterised by a dense maquis scrub comprised of various species of pine and a luxurious undergrowth which boasts a particularly interesting species, prickly juniper (Juniperus macrocarpa). Noteworthy among the fauna of the Park are two endangered species of fish, Iberian toothcarp (Aphanius iberus) and Valencia toothcarp (Valencia hispanica). It is, however, the bird populations of Ardeidae and Laridae that give the area its greatest significance to the European environment.

Urban pressure has been for decades the main threat to the site. Strong public opposition blocked an urban development project along the whole Devesa coastline that was started in the 1960s. However, the construction of some of the proposed infrastructure, including a seafront promenade and a dense road network, left some major blots on the ecosystem. These constructions caused some of the dune formations of the site and their vegetation to be destroyed, as well as silting up some of the temporary pools typical of the area.


The project aimed to regenerate the ecosystems of the 'Devesa', eliminating the adverse effects of the infrastructure development and restoring the damaged areas.

Valencia City Council, with the support of the regional government, undertook a package of measures including the demolition of some of the abandoned infrastructure, restoration and revegetation of the dune chains and the reintroduction of the two threatened fish species. It was also intended to divert some visitors to other recreational areas and launch a consciousness-raising campaign aimed at visitors and the local population.


The project achieved all its objectives. The habitat recovery was successful and the conservation status of the site improved soon afterwards. Further improvements are expected as a result of the natural processes promoted by the site restoration. The achievements include:

  • Demolition of 2.1 Km of sea promenade, the elimination of 30,159 m2 of roads and parking plots and 300 water supply and sewage underground features, plus 10 km of pipelines.
  • Restoration of 2,100 m of the first dune ridge. Overall, 2 million plants of 27 species were used. In addition, 52,618 examples of 7 species were saved from the intervened area before the work started.
  • Regeneration of 15,600 m2 (c.1.5 ha) of coastal lagoons (“malladas”).
  • Construction of a trail (2,286 m2) for non-motorised vehicles.
  • Awareness raising campaign reaching a wide range of target public, including guided site visits for 3,500 people.
  • The natural regeneration of the Natura 2000 site after the restoration work supported by LIFE raises optimism for the resilience of the ecosystem, which underwent a dramatic transformation in past decades. It is reasonable to believe that the work has directly benefited habitat types lost after the destruction of the first dune fringe: 2210 (Crucianellion maritimae fixed beach dunes), 2220 (Dunes with Euphorbia terracina), 2230 (malcolmietalia dune grasslands), 1410 (Mediterranean salt meadows), 1420 (Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs, Sarcocornetea fruticosi) and 1430 (halo-nitrophilous scrubs, pegano-salsoletea). In the same way, the work could have a positive effect on habitat type 2260 (cisto- lavenduletalia dune sclerophyllous scrubs), altered as a result of the destruction of the first dune fringe.

    The populations of two endangered fish species (Valencia hispanica and aphanius iberus) were importantly boosted through the creation of suitable habitat conditions in one of the lagoons restored, where a permanently flooded section was created.

    The work also achieved a significant increase in awareness and information. Regular beach-goers have witnessed the re-naturalisation of the area and have been able to ask questions to trained project personnel in the field. Specific campaigns supported by a wealth of information have also raised the profile of the conservation objectives and sustainable tourism among students, visitors and the general public in the highly populated area of Valencia. Known as ‘LIFE Duna’ the project has also been an effective dissemination tool for the LIFE programme and the wider nature conservation objectives.

    The habitat restoration accomplished has contributed to the consolidation of the management approach developed by the Town Hall during the first trials to reinstate natural conditions in the site after popular protests led to the abandonment of its 1970s urban development plans. Moreover, the beneficiary has been awarded LIFE 2004 co-funding for the restoration of priority habitat 2250 (Dunes with Juniper spp. woods) along the second dune fringe, which will further the re-naturalisation of the project site and the sustainable tourism objectives.

    The project created 28 jobs (25 part-time and three full-time), all of them filled by the job centre. These jobs were indirectly supported by the external assistance contracted through public tender.

    Despite the high demonstration value of the project towards sustainable tourist development, holiday resorts remain an active threat in the area, and, like the trends in the site’s ecological features, should be closely monitored. Now that the restoration of the first dune fringe has largely erased the effects of past urban development in the Natura 2000 site, the sand deficits recorded along the whole Mediterranean coast as a result of human actions are the main threat to the area.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Coastal


coastal area‚  natural regeneration‚  sand dune‚  wetland‚  Mediterranean Sea‚  restoration‚  Sustainable tourism

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Aphanius iberus   Valencia hispanica   

Target Habitat types

  • 1410 - Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi)
  • 1420 - Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi)
  • 1430 - Halo-nitrophilous scrubs (Pegano-Salsoletea)
  • 2210 - Crucianellion maritimae fixed beach dunes
  • 2220 - Dunes with Euphorbia terracina
  • 2230 - Malcolmietalia dune grasslands
  • 2250 - Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp.
  • 2260 - Cisto-Lavenduletalia dune sclerophyllous scrubs
  • 2270 - Wooded dunes with Pinus pinea and/or Pinus pinaster
  • 5330 - Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ayuntamiento de Valencia - Concejalía de Devesa y Albufera y Alcaldías de Barrio
Type of organisation Local authority
Description Valencia Town Council is the local authority for the city of Valencia and a number of small surrounding neighbourhoods. It is the competent authority for the management of the project location, the 'devesa de l'Albufera, within the nature conservation site Parc Natural de l'Albufera.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE00 NAT/E/007339
Duration 01-JAN-2001 to 30-JUN -2004
Total budget 1,951,482.00 €
EU contribution 975,741.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Brochure Title: ""Duna. Restauración de hábitats dunares en L'Albufera de Valencia." (Spanish, English and French versions)." Author: Ajuntament de Valencia Year: 2001 Editor: Ajuntament de Valencia
Brochure Title: "Itinerario autoguiado por la Devesa." Author: Ajuntament de Valencia Year: 2004 Editor: Ajuntament de Valencia
Project web site Website
Publication Title: Modelo de restauración de hábitats dunares en L'Albufera de Valencia tres años después. (Spanish, French and English versions) Author: Ajuntament de Valencia Year: 2004 Editor: Ajuntament de Valencia No of pages: 14
Publication: Book Title: Restauración de las dunas litorales de la Devesa de L'Albufera de Valencia. Author: Benavent Olmos, J.M. et al Year: 2004 Editor: Ajuntament de Valencia No of pages: 65
Video link "Restauración de hábitat dunares en L'Albufera de Valencia."


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