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LIFE+ Project Mink Territory

The Project

The European mink (Mustela lutreola), as one of the most endangered species on the planet, is particularly affected by the degradation of the river ecosystems. This is due to the fact that the mink is a species that needs the natural woodlands and wetlands alongside the rivers during the different stages of its life. The LIFE + MINK TERRITORY project is directed at restoring the river habitats along the lower reaches of the Aragón and Arga rivers in Navarre and at increasing the mink population there. 

The area comprising the lower reaches of the Arga and Aragón rivers is one of the sites of community importance (SCI) included in the Natura 2000 Network, primarily due to the presence of woodlands that are representative of the Mediterranean rivers (poplar and willow riparian woodlands) and species such as the European mink (Mustela lutreola), otter (Lutra lutra), European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), the Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), etc. Furthermore, habitats of interest, such as meanders, are present in these two rivers, which are generally very dynamic.

As is the case of most European rivers, conservation problems are related to a lack of space for the river. Most of the flood plains have been occupied by agricultural land or poplar plantations, which are generally municipal property. In the past, river ripraps and defences were constructed in order to protect the agricultural land and tree plantations and, in the case of the river Arga, the bed was channelled in order to protect the downstream settlements against flooding.

These defence infrastructures considerably reduced the dynamics of these two rivers, leading to a reduction in the natural habitats available, which in turn limits the biological diversity of the area.

The European mink is particularly affected by the degradation of the riverine ecosystem, being a species which uses the natural woodlands and wetlands alongside the river during the different stages of its life cycle. This area is home to 20% of the population of this species in Navarre and 2/3 of the Iberian population, giving an idea of the importance of restoring the riverine ecosystems in the lower basin of these two rivers as part of the overall strategy for the conservation of species.

This in turn is a responsibility, understood by the competent authorities, who have decided to take measures in the area in order to restore the riverine ecosystem and to improve the conservation status of the European mink.

With this in mind, the Government of Navarre (with authority for environmental matters), the Ministry of the Environment for Spain and the Ebro River Water Board (with authority for water-related matters) are working together on this project through their public companies: GAVRN (public company of the Government of Navarre); TRAGSA (public company of the Spanish State). The local authorities (12 municipalities) area also supporting the project.

Partners


    Gestión Ambiental de Navarra, S.A. Fundación Crana Tragsa

Co-financers


    Gobierno de Navarra Gobierno de España

LIFE+ Environmental Recovery of the River Territory: a vital area for the European Mink (Mustela lutreola) | LIFE+ MINK TERRITORY