Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp 1597–1617 | Cite as

Agricultural development vs biodiversity conservation: the Mediterranean semiarid vegetation in El Ejido (Almería, southeastern Spain)

  • J. F. Mota
  • J. Peñas
  • H. Castro
  • J. Cabello
  • J. S. Guirado

The development of a greenhouse agriculture in the traditionally impoverished region of Poniente de Almería, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, has caused an enormous rise in living standards. However, the environmental impact of this badly-planned growth threatens the every dynamics of the exploitation system. A special examination must be made of the use of the three major resources responsible for the functioning of greenhouse production and its impact on the ecosystems and particularly on the vegetation. These resources are: clayey soils, sand from fossil dunes and ground water. While the use of the clayey soils and sand have negative effects on the conservation of ecologically valuable communities found nowhere else in Europe, ground water overexploitation has produced an increase in salinity in most of the aquifers. Of these, sand has been by far the best monitored resource and restoration programmes have been implemented in the extraction zones. This survey deals with the recent evolution of areas where the arto (Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaeus) and the sabina (Juniperus phoenicea subsp. turbinata) have long been the dominant species, although the presence of the former is nowadays notoriously diminished. The study is based on aerial photographs taken in 1957, 1977 and 1985, together with our own field work. Curiously enough, all this man-made process of degradation has stimulated ornithological diversity. Finally, we propose here some measures which aim to preserve the most important enclaves of these Mediterranean shrub formations, specially those of the arto, since sabina-dominated communities already belong to existing conservation areas.


environmental impact Maytenus europaeus dunes vegetation birds diversity restoration of degraded areas 


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Mota
    • 1
  • J. Peñas
    • 1
  • H. Castro
    • 1
  • J. Cabello
    • 1
  • J. S. Guirado
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Producción Vegetal y EcologíaUniversidad de AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de AndalucíaDelegación Provincial de AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain

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