Laguna del Cañizar
Jiloca Valley, Aragon, Spain
Laguna del Cañizar, in the Jiloca Valley, is one of the greatest natural attractions of the region of Teruel. It was once one the largest freshwater wetlands of the Iberian Peninsula. Since 2006, this wetland is in the process of recovery.
The Lagoon is one of the most important stopover sites for migrating common cranes in Spain, as well as for a wide array of wetland birds now that the water levels have bene restored. Its shores provide habitat for steppeland birds and raptors.
Water buffalo, Retuerta horses, Roe deer, Wild boar.
Fox, Iberian otter, Badger, Genet.
Common crane, Golden Eagle, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Spoonbill, Montagu’s Harrier, Night Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole and many other species.
Laguna del Cañizar is currently the 5th largest wetland in the interior of Spain and the second largest wetland with fresh water, only surpassed by the Tablas de Daimiel National Park.
It has a network of channels 6 kilometers in length, which facilitate access to the inner parts of marshes and reed beds. In some places the water is more than one meter deep. When full, this wetland is capable of storing more than two million cubic meters of water.
The great variety of habitats within the lagoon, including wet meadows, rushes (Juncus sp.), reeds and riparian forests, makes it a an important biodiversity hotspot.
The project focuses on a natural grazing management approach to maintain a natural, dynamic, mosaic landscape. Large herbivores like water buffalo and horses each have a different type of habitat use and grazing, and thus have a different impact on the vegetation.
Water buffalo adapt better to wet conditions and poor quality vegetation. They feel most comfortable in or close to water bodies. Horses prefer dier areas. They naturally graze unevenly, eating short grass areas first.
Through their grazing, trampling, nutrient redistribution and migration patterns, large grazers help to restore the indigenous plant diversity in natural areas. By creating more open spaces in dense vegetation, more succession stages and thus more variation in the landscape and new habitats will be created. Water buffalo and wild horses are also important seed dispersers. They spread seeds through their fur and digestive system, thus improving the biodiversity status of the area.
Developing sustainable income streams for protected areas and surrounding communities is one of the major challenges facing biodiversity conservation globally. At the same time, rural areas become abandoned as young people migrate to cities for better perspectives.
In Laguna del Cañizar, our project creates new economic opportunities and employment through ecotourism and ecosystem services.
The reintroduced Water buffalo and wild horses are the main attraction in the area, along with other iconic species such as the thousands of common cranes that stay in the area during the winter period.
Our ecotourism activities celebrate nature and culture and enhance the travellers’ experience by integrating natural and cultural heritage in guided tours.
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