Water bodies within the Natura 2000 Network areas must be managed so that they are compliant with the environmental objectives set by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) together with the conservation objectives of the Special Protection Areas for birds in sites of Community importance.

In L’Albufera of Valencia – a wetland of high ecological value – measures to comply with the WFD have been implemented, focusing on water quality improvement aspects. But only one of these measures, the creation of artificial wetlands, can also directly improve habitats and bird conservation according to the guidelines on the habitats and birds directives. For this reason, the initiatives proposed by this project have the objective of:

1. Establishing the most appropriate management rules for the artificial wetlands in order to jointly optimise water quality and habitat and biodiversity improvement, according to the application of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats and Birds Directives.

2. Proving that the joint management of the three artificial wetlands contributes to improving water quality and biodiversity in L’Albufera.

3. Setting up a methodology to determine indicators of good conservation status for birds, in order to apply them to other wetlands of the Natura 2000 Network.

4. Providing recommendations aimed at competent administrations to set the basis in the development of site management plans for the Natura 2000 Network and hydrological management plans.

The key messages are:

  • Artificial wetlands are restored areas, reserve areas within a Natura 2000 Network, where the optimal performance of natural wetlands can be reproduced on a small scale.
  • The achievement of environmental objectives set out by the WFD is not enough for Natura 2000 Network areas if the conservation objectives of the Habitats and Birds Directives are not also considered.