TIMONEDA D’ALFES [Wild Thyme Thymus vulgaris] NATURE RESERVE
IN CATALONIA, NORTHEAST SPAIN
The Timoneda d’Alfes is the last remaining breeding site of Dupont’s LarkChersophilus duponti in Catalonia.
The 100 hectare area is ecologically rich and diverse. It is home to more than 300 plant species and is the last known habitat in Catalonia of the Iberian endemic grasshopper Prinontropis flexuosa.
Timoneda d’Alfes if the only site in Catalonia where Dupont’s Lark still breeds, a stronghold of the eastern Iberian population. The number of breeding pairs has decreased alarmingly from 40 – 60 pairs in 1990 to less than 20 pairs in 2001. This decrease is due to aircraft activity, habitat loss and other local problems.
Another endangered bird breeding here is the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor.Of the 2 traditional Catalan breeding sites one, the Empora marshes held NO breeding pairs last year; on the other, 5-7 pairs of Lesser Grey Shrike (37% of Catalan and 30% of Spanish population) breed or hunt in the Timoneda d’Alfés.The Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata also also breeds in the area with a total of 60 breeding pairs for in Catalonia in 2000 (in the 1980’s there were 180 breeding pairs.)
Other steppe dwellers which breed here include the Calandra LarkMelanocorypha calandra, Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla and the Thekla Lark Galerida theklae. In the vicinity other interesting species such as the Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
|TIMONEDA D’ALFE IN SUMMER|
THE THREAT TO TIMONEDA D’ALFE
The grass airstrip and ground facilities of the former military aerodrome situated in the Timoneda d’Alfes was taken into use a few years ago by the Royal Lleida Flying Club. Local politicians now plan to develop the site for business and tourist traffic which would include asphalting and extending the runway, building new hangars and generally transforming the aerodrome into a fully functioning regional airport.
This would have a devastating effect on all wildlife in Timoneda D’Alfes; but in particular on the Dupont’s Lark.
In June 1998 the Catalan government introduced a special plan for protecting the site, stating that the use of the aerodrome was provisional and including it in the list of natural interesting sites (PEIN)which it had initiated in 1985. The special protection was afforded because of the site’s “high ecological value” because of the rare breeding birds.
Catalan conservationists have protested for some time about the airport proposals, which would endange bird species protected under both Catalan and European law. A record of this protest and more information on the area and the threat, is (unfortunately in Catalan and Spanish only) at:
|TIMONEDA D’ALFE IN WINTER|
HOW CAN WE HELP?
The deadline for public objections against developments plans for the airport is the 28th March 2003.
Proact has been approached for help, in what could be the final stages of the public protest campaign, by a Catalan member of Proact.
Our aim is to make it clear to the Catalonian and national authorities that matters of local environmental concern are nowadays also of international interest. The steady shrinkage of our few remaining natural habitats, and ever-dwindling species of flora and fauna, is a not only a local and national problem. It is often an irreversible loss of our planetary resources – for present and future generations. In the young 21st century we should have at last learnt this lesson.
Go to the draft texts and register your personal protest and concern. Proact Team letters with some 750 signatures will be sent to the targets of our campaign.
David Conlin, Proact International
and conservationists in Catalonia, Spain