Discovering Doņana



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DOŅANA, a World Heritage Site

Let me please introduce you to Doņana, one of the most important natural sites in Europe.

Doņana is a land of contrasts. It is part of Europe but is influenced by Africa; it is by the Atlantic Ocean but is affected by the Mediterranean Sea. It lies between two continents and supports many species which is hard to imagine coexisting in the same territory.

Doņana is not important just for the rare species which it holds, such as the Iberian Lynx or the Spanish Imperial Eagle. It is also important for its immense diversity. More than half of Europe's species of birds are recorded in Doņana, many of them in huge numbers. Hence it is of great importance for the European avifauna.

The area stands out  for its outstanding bird communities and an interesting collection of flowers, insects, reptiles - amphibians and mammals complete the mosaic of Doņana´s natural history.

The seasonal changes are so strong that Doņana can appear unrecognizable when visited at different times of the year.  Most of species of birds are present only in Winter, but we get a good number in the breeding season and on passage. Huge areas of marshes flood in Winter, but then dry out by the end of Summer.

In addition, in its more than 1.1000 square kilometres,  we find a high variety of habitats, ecosystems and landscapes. Pine woods, scrubland, cork-oak forests, coastal lagoons, riverbank forests, marshes, sand dunes, coastal cliffs, beaches, steppe lands, rice fields, cereal fields, reed beds are some examples of them.

The history of Doņana is very recent.  Only  six  thousand years ago the river Guadalquivir emptied into a huge estuary that covered what is now Doņana. Then the marine currents led  to the formation  of sandbanks and today's  coastline, cutting off a vast saline lake from the sea. This lake was slowly transformed into marshes by the accumulation of the alluvial sediments.

Since the creation of the National Park in 1969, Doņana has combined some of the most important awards. In 1994 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Doņana there are two main protected areas:

  • The National Park, a territory under a very tight protection, with public access restricted to its visitor centres and some marked footpaths around them. In light green on the map.

  • The Natural Park, less strictly protected  with more open access; this park is the natural continuation of the National Park and is also of great importance for migratory and breeding birds. It offers a large variety of birding itineraries. In light green on the map.

Since 2007 the two parks are being managed jointly by the regional government under the name of Doņana Natural Site (Espacio Natural Doņana).