The Albufera de Valencia, one of the most important wetlands in Europe with 21,000 hectares, can disappear in just eight decades if the beaches are not regenerated, according to the Generalitat Valenciana. Located ten kilometers south of the city, the splendid natural park has suffered illegal dumping for years and remains threatened by the expansion project of the Port of Valencia. However, the onslaught of urbanism has been a constant admonition for the wetland.
The impact of climate change on the Valencian coast will end the Albufera in 2100 if the beaches are not regenerated
The Environmental Prosecutor’s Office has revealed in its annual report a striking increase in investigations into urban planning in the province of Valencia: from 37 proceedings initiated in 2019 to 65 in 2020. The increase is explained by a single report from the National Police unit attached to the Generalitat Valenciana that led to a “macro report” on the urban situation in Albufera. The Environment group of the Autonomous Police holds the powers over surveillance in natural parks and preventive control in wetlands.
A “substantial” part of the proceedings initiated on urban irregularities has its origin in the macro report prepared by the National Police unit attached to the Generalitat Valenciana. Thus, up to 31 proceedings of the 65 initiated in 2020 correspond to the police report. The Valencia Prosecutor’s Office “emphasizes the great work” of the Autonomous Police with the report on the urban situation of Albufera, according to the annual report of the Environment section of the Public Ministry.
Thousands of birds pass through the natural park, which is part of the Natura 2000 Network each year in their migratory processes. It also houses species of great ecological value and in danger of extinction. More than 14,000 hectares of the park are dedicated to the cultivation of rice, a practice that has been developed in the Albufera since the 16th century and that coexists with fishing and hunting, present in the lake since the 12th century.
The Prosecutor’s Office has already investigated the alarming drop in the water level of the wetland, a situation that has even reached the pages of the French newspaper Le Monde.
Despite the successful regeneration projects in some areas of the Albufera, especially the Tancat de la Pipa, the lake faces a major threat: the expansion of the Port of Valencia. The controversial project piloted by the Valencia Port Authority threatens to salinize the lake as a result of the erosion of the beaches, as Eulàlia Sanjaume, professor of Physical Geography at the University of Valencia, explained in an interview with this newspaper.
In addition, the smoke columns and the spills from the ships have implied a significant ecological cost for the beaches of the natural park, as denounced by neighborhood groups and ecologists integrated in the Ciutat-Port Commission.
The battle within the Valencian Government of the Botànic Pact, which confronts the partners of the PSPV-PSOE (supporters of the expansion without a new Environmental Impact Statement) and Compromís and Unides Podem, continues. The Department of Climatic Emergency, headed by Mireia Mollà, from Compromís, has warned the councilors of the Port of Valencia of their “personal responsibility” if the expansion of the port infrastructure damages the Albufera.