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#5 SWExpedition Diary

Natural and National Park, and big problems for the park.


Wednesday 15th February 2023


Doñana is so large it takes hours to drive from one side to the other, and the administration and politics don’t make it easier. There are two parks, the National and Natural ones, plus other little spots around.



There are a few main habitats, such as

  • Sand dunes

  • Woodland

  • Wetlands

This has been a sad year. Most of the natural park in Northern Donana is dry for mainly two reasons:

  • Climate change. Usually, it rains a lot in November/December and it fills up everything with water, but this year it rained for only two weeks.

  • Strawberry cultivation uses vast amounts of water. Just now it seems that authorities are dealing with seizing illegal wells.

A brief geology explanation, as explained by an expert from the visitor centre, José Antonio Valverde Visitor's Centre, there are generally two types of soil here, sand and clay. Water filters much faster through sand than clay, which retains it more. During late Autumn it rains so much that water overflows even on sandy soil, but this year there wasn’t enough water. The clay soil keeps more water, but unfortunately, extensive use of water for irrigation drowns all the water from the reserve.




We have reached the point where there is no point almost in visiting the dry area as nothing goes there. There is no activity. Local birdwatchers and naturalists are really worried about these extreme conditions.


How to solve this? How to make people have a livelihood by growing strawberries and leaving space for the crucial migratory birds? Without migration stops, certain birds wouldn’t be able to reach their nesting grounds.


We could think so much about many solutions, but darkness was coming to a close, and earlier on an off-road track we spotted an abandoned complex with so many Lesser Kestrels flying around. We decided to camp there, and it was so quiet we could hear the blood flowing in our veins, so wonderful, and as soon as dusk came, the Witches started calling. Recordings are to be done overnight!

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