L’Albufera de Valencia is an environment whose natural assets and traditions are protected under several types of regulation. Each of them demands different levels of conservation and each also has its own special features.
Under regional laws (supported by national laws), l’Albufera de Valencia is protected by its Natural Park status. It is worth clarifying the concepts of national park and Natural Park. A Natural Park is an area where the conservation of natural assets and local culture and traditions is a priority. These areas usually contain valuable eco-systems that have survived until the present day in good conservation conditions. In many cases, these eco-systems coexist with the presence of humans, who perform more traditional activities in these areas, which have a high cultural value. In fact, one of the keys of Natural Parks is the challenge to try to harmonise nature conservation with human activities that have differing degrees of impact. Natural Parks have the potential to become large-scale laboratories where people can study how to develop an area without this entailing the destruction of its resources.
Not all the territory within the Natural Park boundaries enjoys the same level of protection. There are different types of zone demarcation (such as reserve areas, restricted use areas, agricultural use areas, etc), each of which has specific restrictions.
The responsibility for the Natural Park management falls under the regional authorities of the Autonomous Region of Valencia where the park is located, whereas National Parks fall under the country's central government. In international jargon, these correspond to protected areas within category 2 of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Conversely, National Parks (a protection status that l’Albufera does not have) includes areas that have generally been less affected by human action. Although these areas are managed directly by the Spanish central government, this is in the process of changing and competences are already being transferred to autonomous regional authorities.
Decree 259/2004, of 19 November, from the Regional Government's Council, by which Plan for Governing Usage and Management of l'Albufera Natural Park has been approved
Decree 96/1995, of 16 May, from the Valencian Government, by which the Management Plan for the Natural Resources of Albufera catchment basin was approved
2011 Management Report Parc Natural de l’Albufera:
2012 Management Report Parc Natural de l’Albufera:
2013 Management Report Parc Natural de l’Albufera:
The European initiative: THE NATURA 2000 NETWORKING PROGRAMME is a network of natural areas that are protected throughout all of the European Union, which was created in order to ensure the survival of the most valuable species and habitats of Europe. It is based on the principle of sustainable use, in order to enable people, fauna and flora to live together in harmony. L’Albufera de Valencia is part of this network together with another 25,000 areas throughout the European Union.
The Network is supported by two pioneering instruments of the EU legislation: the BIRDS Directive of 1979 and the HABITATS Directive of 1992, through which protection is offered to more than 1,000 species of animals and rare, endangered plants as well as 200 types of habitats across the 27 member states.
In order to comply with the provisions set forth in Directive 92/43/EEC1, in December 1997, the Autonomous Region of Valencia created a list of Sites of Community Importance (SCIs), which were likely to become part of the Natura 2000 Network. These sites were defined, as instructed by said directive, on the basis of the presence of the same habitats or species considered to be a priority by the directive, since such priority status would mean states would have to “designate them as special conservation areas”. The final list to be approved included 39 areas, covering a total area of 420,577 Ha (almost 30,000 of which corresponded to maritime areas).
It must be noted that the SCI proposal was subject to a detailed evaluation by the EU bodies in charge. Only those SCIs meeting the conditions required would be, if applicable, designated as Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which, along with the Special Protection Areas for birds (SPAs) to be covered below, were to constitute the prospective Natura 2000 Network.
COMMISSION DECISION of 19 July 2006 adopting, pursuant to Council Directive 92/43/EEC, the list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region [notified under document number C(2006) 3261] (2006/613/EC)
[Provisions 4 to 7]
(4) For the Mediterranean biogeographical region, lists of sites proposed as sites of Community importance within the meaning of Article 1 of Directive 92/43/EEC have been transmitted to the Commission between January 2003 and March 2006, in accordance with Article 4(1) of Directive 92/43/EEC, by France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.
(5) The lists of proposed sites were accompanied by information on each site, supplied in the format established by Commission Decision 97/266/EC of 18 December 1996 concerning a site information format for proposed Natura 2000 sites (D. L. 107 of 24/4/1997, p. 1.).
(6) That information includes the most recent and definitive map of the site transmitted by the Member State in question, the site's name, location and extent, and the data yielded by application of the criteria specified in Annex III to Directive 92/43/EEC.
(7) On the basis of the draft list drawn up by the Commission in agreement with each of the Member States concerned, which also identifies sites hosting priority natural habitat types or priority species, a list of sites selected as sites of Community importance should be adopted.
The list contained in Annex 1 to this Decision shall constitute the initial list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region in accordance with the third subparagraph of Article 4(2) of Directive 92/43/EEC.
Initial list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region
SCI code : ES0000023
Name of SCI: L'Albufera
Surface area of SCI (ha): 27 538
geographical coordinates of SCI Longitude W 0 18 Latitude N 39 18
Royal Decree 1997/1995, of 7 December, introduced the provisions set forth in the Habitats Directive into the Spanish domestic legal system, assigning the Natura 2000 Network legal status in Spain.
The Birds Directive (Council Directive 79/409/EEC, of 2 April 1979, on the conservation of wild birds) is aimed at providing long-term protection and conservation of all wild bird species in the EU. It establishes a general system of protection and management of all these species, as well as rules relating to their exploitation, forcing the adoption of all necessary measures to preserve, maintain or restore a sufficiently large and diverse system of habitats for all of them. This applies to birds as well as their eggs and nests. This Directive has identified 200 endangered species and sub-species in need of special attention. The EU member states must designate special protection areas for them.
Between 1988 and 2000, a total of 18 SPAs, with a total surface area of 277,239 hectares were designated in the Autonomous Region of Valencia by means of Council agreements. These were subsequently communicated through the Ministry of the Environment to the European Commission in order to be officially introduced.
L’Albufera de Valencia was included in the proposed list, under the same status as used for its designation as a SCI.
The Ramsar List was drafted in accordance with paragraph 1 of article 2 of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), which states the following:
Each Contracting Party shall designate suitable wetlands within its territory for inclusion in a List of Wetlands of International Importance, hereinafter referred to as "the List" which is maintained by the bureau established under Article 8.
Wetlands included in the List acquire a new status at the national level and are recognised by the international community as being of significant value not only for the country, or the countries, in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.
The Convention establishes that “Wetlands should be selected for the List on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology.” Over the years, the Contracting Parties to the Convention have adopted more precise criteria to interpret the Convention text, as well as an Information Sheet on the Ramsar Wetlands List and a Classification System for all types of wetlands.
All issues pertaining to the Ramsar List were encapsulated in Resolution VII.11 adopted by the Conference of the Parties in May 1999 and entitled Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Everything in the Strategic Framework is founded upon this “Vision for the Ramsar List”:
To develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the ecological and hydrological functions they perform.
There are currently 1752 areas that have been designated as the RAMSAR List of Wetlands of International Importance. 63 out of that total are located in Spain, l'Albufera de Valencia being one of them:
Albufera de Valencia
Date of Designation: 05/12/89
Region: Region of Valencia
Area: 21,000 ha
Location: 39º20’N 000º21’W