Convention on the conservation of european wildlife and natural habitats


Convention on the conservation of european wildlife and natural habitats

Standing Committee
19th meeting
Strasbourg, 29 November - 3 December 1999

Possible new file

"El Regajal" Nature Reserve Spain

 Secretariat Memorandum prepared by the Directorate of Environment and Local Authorities

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Con motivo del proyecto para la construcción de una autopista sobre los terrenos de la Reserva Natural de "El Regajal" la Real Sociedad remitió al Ministerio de Fomento un informe sobre la importancia biológica de dicho espacio, con la pretensión última de evitar el destructivo impacto sobre ella.

El informe fue elaborado por el Profesor José Luis Viejo y aprobado por la Junta Directiva en su reunión de 4 de febrero.

En los primeros días de diciembre de 1999 el Profesor Viejo remitió a la Junta Directiva de la Sociedad dos informes sobre esta cuestión. El segundo de estos informes era un documento de trabajo para la reunión de la Convention on the conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats del Consejo de Europa que se celebró en Estrasburgo entre el 29 de noviembre y el 3 de diciembre de 1999. Este documento se reproduce a continuación.

 

The Standing Committee is invited to consider whether a file should be opened on protecting the "El Regajal" nature reserve.

Possible new file "EL REGAJAL" Nature Reserve

The purpose of the « files » is to find a satisfactory solution to problems encountered in implementating the Convention and to monitor as effectively as possible the means chosen to resolve them.

I. Introduction

In a letter of 1 February 1999, Mr José Luis Viejo Montesinos, of the Department of Zoology and Biological Sciences at the Autonomous University of Madrid, informed the Secretariat about construction plans for the R-4 motorway (Madrid-Ocaña), which would cut through the "El Regajal" nature reserve and thus pose a serious threat to the area´s natural heritage, including numerous animal and plant species listed in the appendices to the convention.

In a letter of 29 June 1999, the Ministry of the Environment informed the Secretariat that the proposed R-4 motorway from Madrid to Ocaña was the subject of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and that its environmental impact findings would be made public in the near future.

Mr Viejo asks that exhaustive research be carried out into the dangers posed by this project, and that the option of diverting the route a few kilometres to the west be taken account of in the impact study before final approval is granted for construction of the
R-4 motorway.

After examining this matter at its meeting on 16 September 1999, the Bureau decided to submit the case to the Standing Committee as a possible new file.

II. The facts and arguments submitted

The natural area "El Regajal-Mar de Ontigola", covering 570 hectares, is situated in the municipality of Aranjuez (Madrid) and was declared a (non-national) nature reserve, protected by the Community of Madrid, in Decree No. 68/1994 of 30 June 1994, on account of its ecological value and particularly the wealth of its entomological life. The decree also approved the Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMP). The reserve had formerly been placed under the preventive protection system by Decree 72/1990 of 19 July 1990. In accordance with the NRMP, management of the reserve is the responsibility of the Madrid Community Environment Agency.

The following species, listed in the appendices to the Bern Convention, are present in the nature reserve:

- Sisymbrium cavanillesianum (Appendix I), classified as rare in the "Red book of endangered plant species in Peninsular Spain and the Balearic Islands".

  • Strictly protected fauna species (Appendices II and III)

  • Sixty-three of the 67 species in the Aranjuez region are listed in Appendices II and III to the Bern Convention;

  • Nine of the reptile species found in "El Regajal" or adjacent areas are listed in Appendix III to the Bern Convention, including the ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris), which is endemic to the Iberian region.

Among the lepidoptera of the Aranjuez region that also live in the Regajal are Zereynthia rumin, classed as of special interest in the regional list of endangered species, and Plebejus pylaon and Coscinia romei, classed as vulnerable to habitat change in the regional list of endangered species.

Under paragraph 8.2 of the NRMP protection standards concerning prohibitions and restrictions in the nature reserve, it is forbidden:

"To carry out infrastructure work such as the construction of new paths, electricity pylons, etc which may affect the environmental features covered by the Management Plan, except where the purpose is to preserve or improve the nature reserve."

In letters dated 12 February and 13 April 1999, the Secretariat asked Mr Borja Heredia, of the Wildlife Department of the Instituto Nacional para la Conservacíon de la Naturaleza (ICONA), to provide additional information on the development of this area.

In a letter of 29 June 1999, the Ministry of the Environment informed the Secretariat that the planned R-4 motorway from Madrid to Ocaña was the subject of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had not proposed any alternative routes for the motorway and had indicated that there would be an impact on Special Bird Protection Areas 142 and 119 (SBPA, or ZEPA in Spanish). The developer had then been asked to propose alternative routes, particularly one that would intersect the route of National Road IV, which has already been constructed and cuts across the nature reserve. After the various arguments had been put forward and the public consultation process had taken place, the developer added to the EIA a document on compliance with Article 6 of Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC and the special bird protection areas, together with a document on threats to the lepidoptera.

In its letter of 29 June 1999, the Ministry of the Environment informed the Secretariat that all these documents had been submitted to the Directorate General for Roads and that the environmental impact report would be issued shortly.

Mr Viejo asks that an exhaustive study be carried out on the threats posed by this project, and that the option of diverting the route a few kilometres to the west be taken account of in the impact study before final approval is granted for the R4 motorway.

III. Application of the Convention

Article 4 of the Convention provides that:

  1. Each Contracting Party shall take appropriate and necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure the conservation of the habitats of the wild flora and fauna species, especially those specified in the Appendices I and II, and the conservation of endangered natural habitats

  2. The Contracting Parties in their planning and development policies shall have regard to the conservation requirements of the areas protected under the preceding paragraph, so as to avoid or minimise as far as possible any deterioration of such areas.

  3. The Contracting Parties undertake to give special attention to the protection of areas that are of importance for the migratory species specified in Appendices II and III and which are appropriately situated in relation to migration routes, as wintering, staging, feeding, breeding or moulting areas. [...]

Article 6 of the Convention provides that:

  1. "Each Contracting Party shall take appropriate and necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure the special protection of the wild fauna species specified in Appendix II. The following will in particular be prohibited for these species: [...]

  2. the deliberate damage to or destruction of breeding or resting sites;

  3. the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation, insofar as disturbance would be significant in relation to the objectives of this Convention; [...]"


 

(c) Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. Facultades de Biología y Geología. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 28040-Madrid - e-mail: rsehno@bio.ucm.es