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Wetlands run dry as water is used to grow food

Report shows true ecological cost of cultivation in southeast Spain

In the plains of Castilla-La Mancha, there is a unique wetland named Las Tablas de Daimiel national park. Unfortunately, it is no longer as wet as it should be as its water has been re-routed to be used for agriculture. The park has been dry for the past three years; the wildlife has mostly gone from the area, all the birds have gone. The wetland is a visual representation of the ecological cost of growing food in southeast Spain.

Sixty-seven per cent of the water used in Spain goes to agriculture, according to the OECD, but this figure can reach up to 90% in the south-east according to Julia Martinez-Fernandez, technical director of the New Water Culture Foundation.

According to Ecologists in Action’s Rafa Gosalvez, the water needed for the local farming of vines, olives, pistachios, onions and melons far exceeds the available water. The only way to refresh the wetlands would be to transfer water from the Tagus river, except the Tagus is overexploited and almost dried up itself four years ago.


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