- Region: Valencia.
- Province: Valencia.
- Declared a Ramsar wetland: 1989.
- Protected surface area: 3,114 hectares.
Points of interest
Beaches, dunes, forest, rice fields, the lagoon… these Mediterranean eco-systems are amazing biodiversity hotspots. L’Albufera de València Nature Park and lagoon is located 11 kilometres south of Valencia.
In1990 L’Albufera de València Nature Reserve was listed as a Ramsar site in the list of wetlands of international importance for birds and since 1991 the Parc Natural de l’Albufera de València has also been included in the Special Protection Areas (Zepa in Spanish).
Since Roman and Muslim times the area has an important network of ditches and canals for irrigation. One of the most important is the Acequia Real del Júcar , which is the irrigation canal that provides water to most of the orchards and rice fields located in the surroundings of the Albufera.
Find a hotel in the area around L’Albufera de València natural park
Its amazing that this area so close to the city of Valencia has open fields and long beaches, tours of the forest, cycling routes and boat trips. However, it is not without its environmental issues.
L’Albufera is in urgent need of a new inflow of quality water in order to regain the clarity and transparency it once had.
At present, city and industrial water treatment systems (treatment plants, sewers) are being improved in order to prevent poor quality water from reaching l’Albufera.
The 1970’s and 1980’s saw urban clusters and industrial parks built nearby. They dumped (and in some cases still do) their wastewater directly into the lake. In addition, there was an increase in the use of pesticides and weedkillers in agriculture in the area. All of this meant that, in just a few years, l’Albufera went from having clear water with a wide range of plants and animals, to having murky green water (due to the proliferation of phytoplankton) from which aquatic plants and many animal species disappeared.
We will have to see what the future holds for these smaller “protected” areas close to highly populated areas but in many cases the outlook is not positive.
More than 800 different species of plants can be found in the natural park. They can be separated by their habitat: coastal dunes, salt marshes, scrub/mediterranean forest and marshland.
On the coastal dunes (closer to the sea), the mobile dunes have dune grass or sea bell and on fixed dunes lentiscus is predominant.
In the marshes salts accumulate, so the plants that live here are adapted to high concentrations of salt, hence the name of salt marshes. They are usually succulents, such as salt grass.
Scrubland and the Mediterranean forest is made up of arboreal and shrub species such as Aleppo pine, lentiscus, juniper and kermes oak. Also myrtle, thyme, gorse, rosemary, European fan palm .
Amongst the marshes there is an abundance of reeds creating an excellent habitat for bird and other wildlife
The lake has a huge diversity of animals in its environment. Although some fish species can be highlighted such as the fartet and the samarugo (both species of fish in danger of extinction) and the recent appearance of the slug fish Blennius fluviatilis. Eel, mullet and sea bass also still have economical importance.
This park is known for the extraordinary wealth of birdlife. Over 10,000 Red-crested pochard, 20 000 Northern shoveler have been counted. The heron colonies are also noteworthy with cattle egret, Squacco heron all easily visible as well as species such as common tern, black-footed tern, common stilt and grey teal
Culture and economy
The most important human use of the lagoon has traditionally been fishing. Rice growing is important and has great economic and environmental importance because plant and animal species that have disappeared from the lagoon itself live in the rice fields (where the water of the lagoon is purified). These rice paddies also provide food and shelter for many birds.
Walking in the area
There are a few short footpaths in the area that are well worth exploring. They range from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half.
- Botanical – The walk runs around the area known as Pla de Na Sanxa (Sancha’s clearing), which is located to the south of the Gola de El Pujol (El Pujol Canal). The route goes through the inland dune system, an area of stable dunes populated by dense scrub and pine.
- Senses – The route starts out from the Camí Vell (Old Devesa Road) and enters along the Tallafoc de la Rambla (Rambla firebreak), heading south. It then turns towards the scrubland and the stable inland dunes. Along this walk you will discover Nature using the five senses.
- Historical el Saler – This route runs along the El Saler firebreak (Tallafoc de El Saler) from the village to the Muntanyar de la Mona.
- The beach – The route follows the “Fco. Lozano” beach promenade which crosses the ecosystem of the fore dunes of the El Saler beach longitudinally.
- Landscape – The route runs along the old Camí Vell de la Devesa (Old Devesa Road), which linked the city of Valencia with the village of El Perellonet. During the walk we can see the main dune slacks of the northern zone; the Quarter, El Saler, Rambla, Redona and Llarga dune slacks.
You can find detailed descriptions of the walks here.
El Racó de l’ola (Address: Carrer de Vicent Baldoví, 46012 València.)
website: http://www.parquesnaturales.gva.es/es/web/pn-l-albufera (Not a lot of English though you can download a map of the area)
Information Center with good information on the local wildlife and habitat, history etc.
- Picnic area
- Free parking
- Lagoon of around 5 hecatres with hides.
- A tower lookout with 360 degree views of the area.
- Well laid out footpaths showing the various habitats such as dunes, marshes and lagoons etc.
Openinghours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The center is closed: January 1 and 6, December 24, 25 and 31.
The official website for L’Albufera de València can be found here
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