UNESCO Statement on the Doñana National Park, Spain
UNESCO is concerned about reports of proposed legislative changes at the regional level to the Special Management Plan for the Irrigation Zones in the northern part of the Forest Crown of Doñana (the “Strawberry Plan”), which could threaten the very reasons for the recognition of Doñana National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Doñana has also been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1980.
UNESCO would like to recall that in recent years, the World Heritage Committee – the governing body of the World Heritage Convention, composed of 21 of the 195 States Parties to the Convention – has regularly warned of the overexploitation of the aquifer and its potential impacts on the site. The increasing drying out of the water bodies in the property directly affects the populations of water birds and is further exacerbated by the recent exceptional drought, which puts the exceptional biodiversity of the Doñana National Park at serious risk.
Following a Reactive monitoring mission to the site in January 2021 by experts from UNESCO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the World Heritage Committee in 2021 requested Spain to continue the urgent implementation of the “Strawberry Plan” in its current form. The proposed legislative changes at the regional level to this plan are therefore contrary to the Committee’s requests.
The next session of the World Heritage Committee (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 10-25 September 2023) will examine the state of conservation of the site.
On the basis of the report submitted by Spain and the joint analysis of UNESCO and IUCN, it will be up to the World Heritage Committee to decide on the necessary measures. These measures include a wide range of options such as a new reactive monitoring mission and, as a last resort, the possibility of inscribing the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the World Heritage Committee consider that the essential characteristics of the site are threatened by ascertained, specific and immediate dangers.
More information about the previous reports and decisions for this property are available here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/documents/.