Wildlife wonderland

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IBERIAN LYNX: One of the species to benefit.

THE area covered by the Network of Protected Spaces in Andalucia (RENPA) has been modified substantially in recent months, particularly following an expansion of Doñana National park.

In addition, the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species has also been consolidated with the delineation of 142 new ZECs (Special Conservation Zones).

Incredibly, the expansions mean that a third of Spain’s protected natural areas are now located in Andalucia, which has more such spaces than any other part of the country and also beats Slovenia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.

The regional government believes this is an opportunity to increase the ecotourism sector and provide more ‘green’ jobs throughout Andalucia, while increasing the income of rural communities.

Any increase in the number of tourists visiting protected areas must be accompanied by a strong plan to maintain the natural values and extraordinary biological diversity of the region, said a spokesman from the Environmental Ministry.

RENPA comprises protected spaces of highly variable size and with different levels of legislation governing their use, including national parks, nature parks, suburban parks, nature reserves, protected landscapes and natural monuments.

Some of the areas are also protected under rules defined in the European Union’s Habitats and Birds Directives or other international agreements such as biosphere reserves, RAMSAR wetland sites, Specially Protected Zones of Mediterranean Importance and World Heritage sites.

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