Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Creation of Delta del Ebro Natural Park

Creation of The Delta del Ebro Natural Park in 1983

National Parks and Protected Spaces are created under the state Ley de Espacios Protegidos 1975, the Protected Spaces Law. Under the 1977 'Ley de Caza' (Hunting Law) the following types of status may be determined; - 'Sitios Naturales de Interes Nacional', (National Places of Interest), 'Reservas Biologicas', (Biological Reserves), 'Refugios de Caza', (Hunting Reserves) and 'Reservas Nacionales' (National Reserves).

The Catalonian 'Llei de Espais Protegits', 13/1985, Protected Spaces Law establishes the difference between National Parks and Natural Parks. This law declares that Natural Parks and National Reserves may be created by the Generalitat and exist and function entirely separately from National parks, created by the state. The law also decrees that the Generalitat may be the owner of the land or that local groups may promote actions to give protection to nature and the management then becomes the responsibility of the promoter (Alvarez 1986).

Events Leading up to the Creation of the Park in 1983

In the early 1980s the value of the delta had already been acknowledged by the MAR convention and many other organisations. There were concerns about the future of the delta in the wake of massive bird losses following the introduction of DDT to the delta in 1978 and 1979. The creation of the park did not come about as part of a planned departmental campaign. The Delta del Ebro Natural Park along with many others in Catalonia and Spain was created as a result of public pressure. Protests were made at planned developments threatening various areas of the delta and the Generalitat was asked for help by concerned conservation groups. Previous attempts to set up a park had often met with rejection from local groups although the Council had successfully opposed plans to urbanize parts of the Aufacada and the Punta del Fangar in 1982.

In 1983 the owners of the Canal Vell continued draining the lagoon, having already drained a substantial area over the previous years to prepare land for tourist developments. The intended draining of the remaining lagoon posed a real threat to public hunting rights. The local population felt that the fight against control by non-resident land owners had become a priority. Large public demonstrations were held on the banks of the lagoons, with people throwing themselves in the paths of the mechanical earth diggers and tempers and feelings ran high. The conflict was widely reported in the press and the occasion presented itself as an ideal opportunity for the council to forward the idea of a park and quell public fury.

The local Council in Deltebre had little experience of this type of social conflict and approached the Generalitat for suggestions. The idea of a Park was suggested and accepted as a suitable way to end the conflict and protect both the wildlife and hunting interests. An initial plan was therefore hastily drawn up and presented to the Catalonian parliament. The original proposal covered only the left hand side of the delta but the plan was based on the  fact that once the park could be installed and begin to work, then people in other areas would gradually become more receptive to the idea of expanding the park limits. Thus the first delimitation of the park was designated by the decree 357/83 of the Generalitat de Catalunya on 31st August 1983, covering 80% of the Deltebre municipality and incorporating land from the El Pereil√≥ and Sant Jaume d'Enveja municipalities. Not all of this was land in a natural condition and quite a large area of rice cultivation was incorporated.

The Isla de Buda was also included because of the long term sympathetic management that had been taking place there.