Estanys d’Empordà

The recovery of the old lake landscapes of the Empordà

The historic lakes of the Empordà

Hundreds of lakes and lagoons covered The Empordà until the Middle Ages. The following centuries suffered a relentless process of drainage and desiccation down to a few coastal lagoons.

It is estimated that the old ponds covered an area of ​​more than 2,800 Ha.

The current lakes

Currently, only the coastal lagoons are preserved, a few protected and restored wetlands in the Aiguamolls and Baix Ter Parks, some temporary ponds in Albera heavily affected by drainage works and the remains of the Riumors pond which floods when the river Sirvent rises in level.

The large lakes of Siurana, Vilacolum, Bellcaire and Ullastret have completely lost their wetland character.

The remains of the old ponds plus the newly created wetlands add up to around 430 Ha. Only 15% of the original surface .

In the Siurana sector there was the old Closa Gran lake.

La Closa Gran used to have a depth of 4 meters in the wet season. (Virtual recreation).

Some of these lakes in Emporda still flood on occasions of large floods, such as the Vilacolum lake in December 2014

Other ponds still flood when drainage ditches rise, such as the old Riumors lake

Why do we need to recover lakes?

Ponds and wetlands are ecosystems with a lot of biodiversity, often threatened, and they provide us with functions and ecosystem services such as:

  1. Water regulation : They act as natural sponges, absorbing rain and gradually releasing water into rivers and aquifers. This helps moderate water flows, reducing the effects of floods and droughts.
  2. Water purification : By filtering pollutants and particles, wetlands improve water quality. The plants and microorganisms present in these ecosystems break down and remove pollutants, such as excess nutrients, heavy metals and other toxins.
  3. Support for biodiversity : Wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species, including many threatened and endangered species. They are particularly important as resting and feeding areas for many migratory bird species.
  4. Carbon storage : They are important carbon sinks, capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in vegetation and soils, thus helping to mitigate climate change.
  5. Support for human communities : Many human communities depend on wetlands for their livelihoods, including agriculture, fishing, tourism and obtaining fresh water.
  6. Recreation and tourism : They offer unique spaces for leisure, environmental education and eco-tourism, contributing to the local economy and human well-being.

The lakes of the future

The recovery of these ponds is possible with the elimination of the drains from the Albera ponds, the management of the water from the important sources in the Siurana area and its lakes, the management of the Sirvent River, the Fluvià River and the Daró River or the creation of coastal salt flats.

The new habitat restoration directive and the global and European 30×30 programs to protect 30% of natural spaces by 2030 must lead us to a collaboration of private initiative and public administrations to recover at least 450 hectares of new ponds in the Empordà .

The Estanys d’Empordà brand must serve to promote a new image of the Empordà, a new alternative tourism, deseasonalized and expanded outside the traditional coastal area.

The Alive Foundation begins the recovery process of 450Ha of new Emporda ponds through processes of lettings, purchases, rentals and custody agreements with the current owners.

If you want to help us and become a collaborator , you can make a financial contribution to the website of the Alive foundation , or you can write to us to let us know your proposal. If you have land that you want to give us or want us to manage, we will be happy to pay a visit and talk about it.