Natural heritage conservation in the Guadiana Valley

LIFE92 NAT/P/014000

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Contact details:

Project Manager: J REVEZ

Project description:


After entering Portugal from Spain in its middle reaches, the Guadiana River serves as border between both countries down to its mouth. Although dammed at four places in Spain, the upper 60 km along the border and its tributaries on the Portuguese side are in an essentially natural state, constituting an interesting mosaic of permanent and intermittent watercourses, humid and dry ecosystems, including Mediterranean forests, and landscapes created and maintained by traditional farming. It contains one of the largest populations of the great bustard in Europe as well as being an important wintering area for cranes. Lynx, otter and three rare species of fish found only on the Iberian Peninsula also occur.
Now the greatest threat comes from plans to build a dam across the Guadiana at Alqueva flooding 50% of the area, but even without this, the abandonment of traditional farming practices, afforestation with fast-growing exotics, various tourism development projects and increased hunting are having a detrimental impact on the natural heritage.


LIFE is co-funding a pilot project in the Mertola district to serve as a model and incentive for comprehensive action, preferably through future transboundary collaboration, to conserve the natural and cultural heritage of the middle Guadiana through ecologically sound local resources management and tourism, i.e. as a practical example of the Fifth Environmental Action Programme. The project consequently involves acquisition of land to start a pilot scheme for sustainable natural resources management as well as work to provide facilities for visitors and promote tourism compatible with nature conservation. Recovery measures for key species and the purchase of equipment needed to launch conservation action are also being co-financed. Finally, work to promote sustainable use within the local community is a very important aspect, as well as more general dissemination of information and educational material (e.g. to local schools).




Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater
Water - River basin management


ecotourism‚  river‚  land purchase‚  local development‚  river basin development‚  cultural heritage‚  integrated management‚  policy integration

Natura 2000 sites

SPA PTZPE0047 Vale do Guadiana



Coordinator Associação de Defesa do Património de Mértola (ADPM)
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description ADPM mission is the economic development, social and cultural of the territories where it intervenes, sharing strategically with public and private entities, but equally with the citizens, the responsibility of active participation in the dynamic of its proper processes of local development.


Project reference LIFE92 NAT/P/014000
Duration 01-JAN-1993 to 31-DEC -1995
Total budget 667,000.00 €
EU contribution 500,000.00 €
Project location Alentejo(Portugal)


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