Spain is the second largest producer of strawberries worldwide, and about 70% of Spanish strawberries are grown in the Doñana region. Other berries such as raspberries and blueberries are also expanding quickly. Unfortunately, the recent growth of berry production in this province has put a great strain on the quantity and quality of water resources in the region, which is home to an iconic protected wetland. Other sectors including tourism, industry and mining also have impacts. Without measures taken,continued pressure on these water resources might ultimately lead to severe environmental degradation of the protected Doñana ecosystem as well as to a reduction in the long term availability of strawberries from the region.
At SAI Platform’s Water Seminar in Seville in April 2014, there was a growing realisation that in order to protect the sector long-term interest in sourcing berries from Doñana, urgent work is needed at the watershed level to improve water governance, implement and enforce laws, and adopt the most sustainable and efficient water management practices. It was notably acknowledged through pilot projects that Doñana strawberries can be grown using 40% less water, with no impact on yield or quality. These pilot projects need to be scaled up and replicated across the farming region, along with best water management practices.
The Doñana Berry and Sustainable Water Management Group was formed back then, with a small number of volunteer members of SAI Platform at first, and has been experiencing quick growth since then. We now have more than 12 members.
The group is open to other interested groups upon request and approval.
Goals and Activities
The Doñana Berry and Sustainable Water Management group aims to achieve specific outcomes at three levels:
The group has made good progress on points 1 and 2 in 2014-2015. It is now working hard on point 3, with the launch of an ambitious Water Efficiency Training for farmers planned at the end of 2016.
Recent releases include:
• a Statement of support to the Land Use Plan issued by the Government of Andalucía – which received a lot of attention from a lot of local and international stakeholder groups, including the media.
> El País
• a Joint Statement to support WWF campaign 2016 “Together, saving our shared heritage: Doñana”