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Tablas de Daimiel National Park, Spain
2010

Tablas de Daimiel National Park (Parque Nacional de las Tablas de Daimiel) is a nature reserve in south-central Spain on La Mancha plain in the province of Ciudad Real. It is a floodplain wetland in an arid part of Spain created where the Cigüela river joins the Guadiana river.
It enjoys international recognition as a wetland on the list of the Ramsar Convention. The European Union designated it a Special Protection Area for birds . It is home to many bird species, some year-round residents, some migratory. Among the flora, aquatic plants are the basic substrate of the Tablas, and the only trees present are the tamarisk trees. It is one of the most important aquatic ecosystems of Spain and was probably the main inland wetland.
The wetland landscape is characterized by recurrent seasonal inundation which until recently was maintained by both river flooding and groundwater discharges. The Tablas are provided with two types of water making an unusual ecosystem: the Guadiana contributes fresh water, while its tributary the Cigüela is brackish.
The Tablas de Daimiel had a long tradition of waterfowl hunting. Spanish kings from Infante Don Manuel in the 14th century to Alfonso XIII at the turn of the 20th century, hunted in these parts. The water resources of the area also provided fishing and power for mills. One of the major human modifications in Las Tablas and around until the 20th century were the mills. It came to count up to 14 mills, some of which dates back to medieval times. The mills were social centres where the wheat was ground, fishing and hunting was sold and you could eat, sleep and exchange products.
In recent years demand for water for agriculture in the area surrounding the park has reduced the amount of wetland. Overexploitation of water resources has caused the water-table to drop. The key aquifer has not been able to refill because of illegal wells and canalisation of the rivers. Early in 2010 the situation was improved by heavy rainfall and an emergency transfer of water from the Tagus.

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