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Spain is the EU country with the largest protected area

Spain leads the area of ​​protected natural areas in the Union European and these are visited by an increasing number of protected natural persons worldwide, according to the Europarc-Spain Network in the 2020 Yearbook , presented this week. Specifically, it has 36% of its land area protected and 12% of the marine area.

Specifically, this report establishes that Spain is the country that contributes the most land area to the Natura Network 2000 of the EU, which to date is the largest system of protected areas in the world. Spain contributes more than 27 percent of its surface to this network, double what, for example, France contributes, which is the second country in that ranking.

The 2020 Yearbook has been prepared within the framework of the project 'Contribution of protected areas to adaptation to climate change, human health and environmental education for sustainability', that have been developed by the González Bernáldez Foundation and EUROPARC-Spain, for which it has had the support of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

The publication seeks, among other objectives, to make society aware of the importance of maintaining and caring for these areas, and promoting ecotourism as a tool for conserving biodiversity and contributing to local development. l.

The study recalls that he he EU strategy on biodiversity until 2030 aims to effectively protect at least 30% of the marine and terrestrial areas of the countries that make up EU , strict 10% protection and improved connectivity.

In line with these objectives, according to the 2020 Yearbook, Spain is “well positioned” to achieve them, since currently ranks first in the world in Biosphere Reserves, with 53 enclaves ; the second place in the world in Geoparks, which are the places recognized by UNESCO for having a remarkable geological heritage, conveniently conserved and used as an engine for local development – with 15 sites. It also ranks third in Wetlands of International Importance, Ramsar Convention.

With the aim of promoting knowledge of protected areas, during the presentation of the Yearbook, the Global Nature Foundation, EUROPARC- Spain and the Ecotourism Association in Spain, have also presented the campaign 'Our Protected Spaces', in order to «revalue the work of care and maintenance of natural areas ; Recognize the importance for society as a whole of the natural and cultural heritage of these areas, essential for biodiversity and mitigation of climate change, and portray the daily life of those who live and work in these spaces, to contribute at the same time to development. socio-economic of their territories.

The technical director of EUROPARC-Spain, Marta Múgica, considers that in these moments of systemic crisis it is «crucial» to recognize the role that the 16 national parks, the more than 150 natural parks, and up to 1,800 legally protected places for the conservation of biodiversity , as well as for the well-being of society as a whole. ”

«Every time there is more evidence and experiences demonstrating the role that protected areas are playing as tools to contribute to people's health, to face climate change and to promote environmental education for sustainability. For this, it is essential to ensure its adaptive and efficient management, with adequate material, economic and human resources to the new challenges “, he added.

Therefore, regrets that despite these data, public opinion Spanish does not end up appreciating the importance of these spaces or feeling pride in our global leadership . In his opinion, this means that, as a consequence, society does not consider the need to invest in its care and maintenance either.

More and more visitors

Finally, the manager of the Ecotourism Association in Spain , Amanda Guzmán, highlights that the visit and use of these spaces has increased steadily , makes it even more necessary to promote responsible tourism that helps preserve its heritage, generates local socio-economic development and allows offering high-quality experiences.

«We need an urgent reassessment of our protected areas so that continue to generate the multiple goods and services for which they were created, “he said.

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Finally, the coordinator of the Protected Spaces program and spokesperson for Fundación Global Nature in this campaign, Ignacio Jiménez, has stressed that protected natural areas are “essential” within the environmental, social and eco policies names of any country.

«These spaces act as tools essential for the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage, offer numerous employment and business opportunities, generate leisure and entertainment spaces, promote our physical and mental health (which has been seen especially in times of pandemic), play a crucial role in the production, purification and storage of water, reduce the impact of climate change, and serve as scientific and educational spaces of the first order “, he defended.

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