Restoring temporary ponds in L’Albera, Alt Empordà

Mediterranean temporary ponds are unique and extraordinarily rich ecosystems

Can Torres is a 75-hectare organic family vineyard located in L’Albera, located in a beautiful Mediterranean landscape in Northern Catalonia.  In the midst of vineyards, olive groves, cork oaks and ancient menhirs, lies a unique temporary pond system called La Gutina,  which is extraordinarily rich in plant and animal life. These habitats are considered of European priority interest  (*3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds).

Although temporary ponds are very valuable because of their rare biodiversity, they are deeply threatened globally. Their destruction and drainage is very easy, and they are often overlooked by the general public, and also by the authorities.

A farmland stewardship agreement

The management of these habitats within an agricultural property has been made possible by means of an agreement signed by the landowners and the organization IAEDEN-GOB Menorca.

The restoration of a temporary pond at the Prat dels Rosers will improve flood control, during storms, in some of Can Torres’ vineyards.

Temporary lake del Prat dels Rosers, hivern 2017  © Grup d’Ecologia Aquàtica, UVic

The Project

The organisation IAEDEN, together with scientists from Vic University, planned the restoration of a temporary pond, drained in the 50s. This restoration has benefitted plant and animal wildlife, and has improved flood control in the vineyards.

The recovery of a new pond (named “Prat dels Rosers”) has contributed more stability to La Gutina temporary pond network, and has promoted meta-populations and the regional biodiversity. The following studies have given support to the project:

Geomorphological and hydrological study of La Gutina pond system, in order to establish restoration guidelines and to assess the characteristics of the drainage system built at Prat dels Rosers.

Description of the seed bank in the Botany lab at Vic University, in order to evaluate the future recovery of hydrophytes.

Botanical inventory of the ponds. One of the highlights among the species that have appeared in the newly restored pond is Elatine brochonii, a threatened hydrophyte restricted to temporary pools in Western Mediterranean.

Limnological monitoring of the ponds  Analysis of environmental variables, assessment of the ecological status using the indicators QAELS e2010  – an index of water quality assessment in Mediterranean wetlands based on crustacean and insect assemblages – and ECELS, an indicator for the general conservation status of the ecosystem, based on morphological aspects. 

Amphibian and invertebrate monitoring.

Lake de la Cardonera, hivern 2015 ©Iaeden