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SEO/Birdlife Andalusia

More and more species are now in danger of extinction. The Andalusian delegation of the Spanish Society of Bird-Watching (SEO/Birdlife) works hard to protect and study birdlife. Their hope is to tackle the threat posed by development and neglect, and to ensure us a future filled with birdsong.

By:  Cecilia Bogaard
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Andalusian delegation of the Spanish Society of Bird-Watching (SEO/Birdlife)
Birth: 1998
Ubicación: Seville
Stands out for: protecting and studying bird life
Did you know? founded after a disaster at Doñana Nature Reserve

25 April 1998: The walls of two ponds belonging to the Swedish company Boliden-Apirsa containing ore-processing residues broke open spilling polluted water and acidic toxic tailings. On their way to the sea, the spillage passed through the wetlands of Doñana, effecting an area of around 30-kilometres and producing one of the biggest ecological disasters to ever occur in Spain: The Analcóllar Disaster. “The entire ecosystem was damaged . Aside from direct deaths and damage, which are impossible to quantify, after while we began to notice malformations in the chicks of the species most exposed to the contaminants”, explains José Javier Fernández, representative of the Spanish Society of Bird-Watching in Andalusia.

In the aftermath of this natural disaster, SEO/Birdlife decided to set up an Andalusian delegation to “protect the habitat of birds in the wild and to educate citizens to understand, appreciate and respect them”, details Fernández. The Doñana Campaign was immediately put into action, and they conducted an exhaustive monitoring of the evolution of the wetlands with the collaboration of hundreds of volunteers.

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Doñana has still not recovered. “After the spillage we did a huge amount of work to clean-up the effected area. However, there are still many problems that remain unsolved. For example, we still haven’t efficiently sealed the disaster zone, and the mining complex continues to dump waste with no control”, laments the delegate.

The Andalusian delegation has not lacked work ever since: poisoned bait used for bird hunting, high voltage electrical cables (producing more than a million deaths a year), contamination in the wetlands, anti-construction campaigns, campaigns against the building of dams in rivers such as that of the Plataforma Por un río vivo in Cordoba.

“The loss and fragmentation of bird habitats is the greatest threat to birds”, comments Fernández. “In Andalusia, there are more than 25 species in danger of extinction, some in grave danger”. The Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Great Bustard, Black Vulture, Eurasian Coot, and other lesser known such as the Squacco Heron, Collared Pratincole, Sandgrouse are all included in the Red Book of Birds (Libro rojo de las aves) edited in collaboration with the department of Biodiversity of the Ministry of he environment.

One of the basic pillars of their organization is environmental education and their attempts to raise awareness. SEO has more than 1,500 members in Andalusia alone. “In environmental education centres, awareness on subjects relating to birds has risen in popularity but it is still treated in a rather disorganized fashion”. Their reaction has not been to sit back with their arms crossed. They organize trips into the countryside to visit observatories all over the region, bird watching hikes, Bird banding campaigns to conduct censuses of various groups of birds and to study their migratory patterns. These actions involve both children and adults in the protection of biodiversity.

The Andalusian delegation has managed to survive for over a decade in the fight to protect the life of birds across the region. Luckily organizations like SEO/Birdlife are here to remind us of the importance of nature and to help us fight to continue to hear the birdsong at sunrise, rather than a deafening silence that many fear is fast approaching.


Tertulia recommends

Must see

Parque Nacional y Parque Natural de Doñana
Centro de Visitantes El Acebuche
Crta. El Rocío a Matalascañas km. 13



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