The environment - a complex system of great significance for human welfare and our future - faces a whole host of challenges to its balance and survival. The policies implemented by the Government of Spain within the framework of the country's membership of the European Union are aimed at rising to meet these challenges.
The basic legislation governing the environmental assessment of plans, programmes and projects can be found in Law 21/2013, of 9 December, on environmental assessment, which implemented a far-reaching procedural reform of this legal instrument on prior control in order to simplify and expedite procedures, thereby strengthening environmental protection.
The PLAN AIRE contains a total of 78 measures - both horizontal and sectoral - that place emphasis on emissions generated by all sorts of activities ranging from transport to industry, including energy generation and farming.
Traffic, and especially commercial distribution traffic, is one of the main sources of air pollutant emissions. In 2012, over 70% of delivery vehicles used for commercial distribution in Spanish cities were more than seven years old.
To tackle this situation, the Government of Spain approved four Royal Decrees: Royal Decree 89/2013, of 8 February, to regulate the direct issue of financial aid under the PIMA AIRE Plan (PIMA AIRE 1), which was amended by Royal Decree 831/2013 (PIMA AIRE 2) on 25 October. Approval was subsequently given to Royal Decree 128/2014, of 28 February, to regulate the direct issue of financial aid under the "PIMA AIRE 3" Environmental Promotion Plan, and Royal Decree 989/2014, to regulate the direct issue of financial aid under the "PIMA AIRE 4" Environmental Promotion Plan for the purchase of commercial vehicles, gas vehicles and pedal-assisted electric bicycles.
The PIMA AIRE Plan forms part of a raft of measures included in the Plan AIRE 2013-2016 and was allocated a provision of 5,1 M euros. The main goal sought by this plan is to significantly reduce the emission of gaseous pollutants - mainly particulate - and reduce CO2 emissions by replacing the fleet of commercial and private vehicles with more efficient models currently available in the Spanish market that generate a lower environmental impact. More sustainable mobility was fostered by promoting the use of pedal-assisted electric bicycles.
Implementation of the PIMA AIRE Plans has led to the replacement of almost 35,000 vehicles, thereby replacing a vehicle fleet with an average age of over 15 years. Furthermore, the PIMA AIREPlans have also facilitated the purchase of electric motorbikes and scooters and around 5000 electric motor-assisted pedal bicycles.
This plan has given an unprecedented boost to the manufacture and sale of efficient commercial vehicles in Spain.
As a result of these and other measures set in motion between 1990 and 2013 (the most recent period reported on by the Spanish Inventory System), emissions into the atmosphere of the main acidifying and eutrophying gases (sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and ammonia (NH3)) have been noticeably reduced. In 2013, national SOx and NMVOC emissions were within the maximum emission limits set by EU regulations (National Emission Ceilings Directive), as were NOx emissions for the first time.
Another of the main measures contained in the AIRE Plan is aimed at improving the information provided to the public on the quality of the air they breathe. To do so, a highly significant effort was made in 2014 and 2015 to receive all the data measured by air quality stations in real time so that this information could be passed on to the public via the website of the ministerial department.
With this in mind, a viewer has been developed that enables air quality and air pollution information at a national level to be consulted in terms of the limits provided for by law on the protection of health in Royal Decree 102/2011: SO2, NO2, PM10, PM2.5, O3, Pb, C6H6, CO, As, Cd, Ni and B(a)P, including data in real time and historic trends in air quality assessment.
Climate change is the largest environmental challenge facing the international community with effects on the global economy, social well-being and health. In turn, the fight against climate change could be considered a magnificent opportunity to implement new production and consumption methods that are more efficient in their use of natural resources - especially energy resources - and capable of achieving environmental targets while helping increase energy security and independence.
The climate change policy requires a comprehensive approach capable of strengthening her cross-cutting nature as to ensure climate factors are reflected in all actions of a sectoral nature.
Climate change must be tackled through joint action at both a multilateral and global level with concerted and solidarity-based actions and at an individual level by switching our consumption habits and lifestyle choices for alternatives that are more environmentally-friendly.
The Government of Spain has been constructive throughout the process to reach this agreement on the new 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. Since the start of negotiations, Spain has been acknowledged by other countries for defending the need to progress towards an interconnected Europe in terms of energy. The progress made in terms of interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe will not only benefit Spain and Portugal but also the European Union as a whole and will convert an internal energy market into a reality that will provide security of supply and a greater chance to introduce clean energies.
Spain is a country firmly committed to the fight against climate change and, as a result, has always assumed its commitments internationally.
Furthermore, Spain is committed to financing for climate change in developing countries. In December 2014, it announced a contribution of 120 million euros to the Green Climate Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is expected to become the main climate finance instrument in the future.
The United Nations Environment Programme project - entitled REGATTA - was monitored in 2015; a project financed by Spain and other donors aimed at achieving the following goals: 1) The promotion of cooperation on climate change issues in Ibero-America; 2) The development of an online knowledge platform; and 3) The identification of benchmark technology and knowledge centres.
The annual ministerial meeting of the network's climate change offices was held during the COP21 Summit in Paris.
Similarly, in 2015, work continued on drafting the strategy for adapting the coastline to the effects of climate change, which includes various types of activity to be implemented on the various sections of coastline with a view to enhancing the resilience of coastal areas against the effects of climate change.
It should be noted that, for the first time in Spain, a heading has been created on adaptation to climate change in the State Budget, with a provision of 12.1 million euros based on an Environment Promotion Plan format (PIMA, as referred to below) - the PIMA Adapta Plan. Its goal is to develop specific climate change adaptation projects on coasts, in water management and in the natural and rural environment. 46 actions were identified in 2015. A new heading with a provision of 17 million euros for this concept has been approved for the 2016 budget.
The Government of Spain has prioritised a low-carbon growth policy, targeting the budget at implementing numerous initiatives and projects with a dual objective: reducing emissions; and creating jobs and economic activity.
The following should be highlighted from among the emission-reduction initiatives developed in 2015:
Approximately 200 projects were launched since 2012. This initiative is undoubtedly helping Spain progress towards a green economy and a low-carbon society, thereby constituting an effective tool for reducing CO2 emissions.
The "Clima" Projects approved will help Spain reach the 2020 reduction targets of over four million tonnes of CO2 and have also enabled over 4,000 jobs to be created so far.
The Plan mentioned previously due to its contribution towards improving air quality.
The Carbon Footprint, Offsetting and CO2 Absorption Project Register is an initiative enshrined in Royal Decree 163/2014, of 14 March, linked to the calculation and reduction of the carbon footprint at companies by fostering domestic carbon sinks so that those companies wishing to offset their carbon footprint can do so by acquiring domestic absorption units.
The register comprises three sections: a carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments section; a CO2 absorption projects section; and a carbon footprint offsetting section.
At the end of 2015, 213 organisations have registered 294 footprints, of which three have been offset (the "I calculate and offset" stamp) and 15 have demonstrated reductions (the "I calculate and reduce" stamp). Similarly, six absorption projects have been registered.
A significant effort in terms of communication and awareness was also made in 2015. Among these initiatives, it is important to highlight the "One Million Commitments for Climate" project. At the end of 2015, Spain managed to complete its challenge to have one million citizens, companies and administrative or social organisations (local council authorities, NGOs, universities, etc.) join this effort against climate change. The initiative consisted of gaining action commitments to reduce CO2 emissions based on a dropdown menu at www.unmillonporelclima.es with over 80 possible actions. It was launched in June 2015 with the goal of raising awareness in Spanish society to combat climate change in a simple and flexible manner. The results from the project were presented in Paris at the COP21 summit.
Other communication and awareness projects were carried out in 2015, such as numerous conferences, congresses and workshops: Technical Conference on Climate Change and Mobility; Seminar on the Implementation of the New European Regulations governing Fluorinated Gases with Greenhouse Effects; International Seminar on Biogas-Biomethane; Seminar on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Marine Environment; Conference on International Initiatives related to the Farming Sector; Seminar on Extensive Farming and Climate Change; and Regional Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change at a Local Level. Similarly, it is worth highlighting the involvement in the International Energy and Environment Fair and in the National Conference on the Local Environment.
Furthermore, work was completed on the significant communication and disclosure efforts regarding the results from the reports comprising the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
- Pamphlet on the IPCC, its structure, composition and operation, and on the content of the 5th IPCC Assessment Report.
- Dossier containing the main results from the first volume of the 5th IPCC Assessment Report (physical-scientific data on climate change).
- 56-page dossier containing the main results from the second volume of the 5th IPCC Assessment Report (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change).
- Dossier containing the main results from the third volume of the 5th IPCC Assessment Report (mitigation).
Water is a public asset that is linked to the socio-economic development of the country. For that reason, the main objective for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs in this regard is to guarantee supply of sufficient quantity and quality throughout the country and for all uses while ensuring respect for environmental issues.
These supply guarantee and quality improvement efforts are combined with due management of extreme weather phenomena, floods and droughts, which represent a threat not only to public safety but also threaten the environment and the economic activities associated with water.
Supply guarantee, water quality improvement and flood/drought management are the three lines of action that, combined with the improvements being made to the Spanish governance model aimed at rendering efficient and quality services, form the basis for water planning, technical support and a space for public participation in defining Spanish water policies.
Water planning is organised at two levels: river basin management plans and the national water plan (the latter approved by Law 10/2001, of 5 July). In Spain, water planning at a river basin level is imperative and globally pioneering. It has been validated and promoted by the European Commission through Directive 2000/60/EC, known as the Water Framework Directive (WFD). In fact, water management in Spain is organised through the River Authorities or river basin management bodies: public entities managed under the Directorate-General of Water, the jurisdictional boundaries of which are hydrographic.
The river basin management plans enable the water available in each basin and existing demand to be quantified. Via their measurement programmes, they also draw up the actions that need to be carried out in order to meet socio-economic and development targets for the basin, maintain progress in terms of sanitation and treatment, and manage such extreme weather phenomena as floods and droughts.
Reservoir (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)In short, the river basin management plans ensure effective, efficient, solidarity-based and environmentally-responsible water management is possible, as required by the European Union and so highly necessary in a country with a water shortage (structurally-speaking) where constant adaptations to the risks brought about by climate change are needed. These risks are significantly great in terms of water due to the forecast increase in droughts and floods, as well as an expected drop in water availability in the future throughout a sizeable portion of Spain.
The first round of water planning activities concluded in July 2014 with approval, by a large majority, of all those plans for which the State is responsible.
In the second round, which has involved a new period of participation, efforts has been made to further develop three important aspects and thereby achieve progress towards an increasingly sustainable water management model: environmental targets; the programmes of measures; and the integration of river basin management plans with flood risk management plans.
In order to meet its environmental targets, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs is developing a series of guidelines for ensuring that Spanish bodies of water reach the levels of quality demanded by EU regulations.
These measures firstly require Spanish treatment systems to be improved through the expansion, upgrade or construction of new Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP). To a great extent, this work is being carried out under the Growth, Competitiveness and Efficacy Plan (Spanish acronym: CRECE) that provides for an investment of 1.1 billion euros in water treatment and sanitation projects.
In order to assess the environmental targets, there is a need to maintain the follow-up programmes. For the purpose of improving efforts to monitor water resources, guaranteeing the same level of demand and the same method nationwide, approval was given to Royal Decree 817/2015, of 11 September. It provides for an investment of 101 million euros, which will allow monitoring to take place during the period 2015-2021 of over 5,000 bodies of water via 4,400 control stations.
Water body status monitoring is a basic tool for water management that should provide the information necessary for assessing the effectiveness of the measures adopted and the degree to which established targets are being met. This work enables water conditions to be known; the health of aquatic ecosystems to be identified; water pollution levels to be determined; the consequences from the emission of pollutants from occasional and various pollution sources to be assessed; the deterioration caused by the presence of priority substances to be avoided or reduced; the effect of hydromorphological alterations to be assessed; etc.
The programmes of measures
The work needed to achieve the targets set by the river basin management plans is reflected in the various measures comprising the lines of action. In this regard, they include actions aimed at guaranteeing supply throughout Spain, promoting more efficient water use and fostering, where appropriate, the use of non-conventional resources to improve supply.
Flood and Drought Risk Management
Besides the targets on supply guarantee and quality in water management, another of the objectives sought by Spanish water policy involves ensuring safety for people and assets via the correct management of the risks associated with extreme weather phenomena, i.e. floods and drought. There is no better way to achieve this than by moving forward with the planning of Flood Risk Management and Drought Risk Management.
Alongside the development of the second round of hydrological planning, work was carried out on drawing up flood risk management plans. The aim of this activity is to achieve coordinated action from all the public authorities involved in reducing the negative consequences of floods based on the programmes of measures that each authority should apply within its scope of powers through prevention, protection, preparation and damage recovery programmes.
In order to minimise the environmental, economic and social aspects of potential drought situations, work is also being done on the Special Drought Plans that will not only enable emergency situations to be alleviated but also current risks at any given time to be managed.
One of its essential pillars is the system of hydrological indicators which, by tracking fundamental hydro-meteorological variables, enable a picture to be built up on the situation of each system as regards any possible drought situation (Normal, Warning, Alert, Emergency). The definition of certain thresholds for each stage of a drought enables the necessary actions and measures to be applied gradually, delaying the arrival of more severe stages of drought and thereby mitigating the more negative consequences thereof.
In short, a water policy that is being developed from a perspective of integrated resource planning and management based on a set of physical and technological water infrastructures that enable implementation of that which was defined and agreed upon during the planning stage:
Store the water that cannot be used in any other way and transfer this resource to where it is needed.
To add new water resources to the network, such as desalinated water, or re-use water that has already been used before.
To avoid the pollution of our rivers and, generally-speaking, preserve water quality.
To manage flood and drought risks.
In short, planning, public participation, integrated resource management and legal certainty are the pillars of a water management system that, in Spain, continues moving towards economic, social and environmental sustainability as a guarantee of effectiveness against the challenge posed by scarcity and the risks posed to Spain by climate change.
Law 22/2011, of 28 July, on Waste and Contaminated Soils incorporates Directive 2008/98/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council, on waste and repealing certain directives, into Spanish legislation. This law constitutes the new legal framework for waste management in the coming years. It enshrines the waste hierarchy principle that must be applied in waste policy. This principle lends priority to waste management options as follows: prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, other forms of repurposing (including for energy), and, finally, elimination (via landfill, for example). In order to achieve progress in the efficient use of resources, the law incorporates a prevention target (10% reduction in the weight of waste generated by 2020 compared with 2010) and recycling and repurposing targets to be reached by 2020 for municipal waste (50% preparation for reuse and recycling) and construction and demolition waste (70% preparation for reuse, recycling and other repurposing of material).
Rubbish bins (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)To this end, the Council of Ministers approved the State Waste Prevention Programme 2014-2020 in December 2013. This programme is based around four strategic lines of action aimed at promoting key aspects of waste prevention (reduce the amount of waste produced, reuse and extend the useful life of products, reduce the content of harmful substances in materials and products, and reduce the adverse impacts on human health and the environment caused by the waste generated), which incorporate prevention measures. The implementation of these measures depends on numerous actions in various fields involving manufacturers, distribution companies, the service sector, consumers and end users, and public authorities.
The Council of Ministers approved the 2016-2022 State Framework Plan on Waste Management (Spanish acronym: PEMAR) in November 2015, establishing the strategic lines of action and measures necessary to advance towards a so-called circular economy and meet the European targets on waste. This is a key instrument for applying the waste management hierarchy and for advancing towards a circular economy, which reincorporates materials containing waste into the production process for the manufacture of new products. It also fosters coordination between administrative authorities, improved transparency and information on waste, inspections, control and social awareness.
Furthermore, Royal Decree 110/2015, of 20 February, on the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment, was approved in February 2015, which incorporates Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment into the Spanish legal system and adapts Royal Decree 208/2005 to the provisions of Law 22/2011, while correcting shortcomings and loopholes identified in the management of this type of waste.
Additionally, Royal Decree 180/2015, of 13 March, on waste shipments, which develops Article 25 of Law 22/2011 and regulates waste shipments, was approved in March 2015.
Royal Decree 710/2015, of 24 July, was approved in July 2015 to amend Royal Decree 106/2008, of 1 February, on batteries and accumulators and the environmental management of their waste, through which Directive 2013/56/EU, of 20 November 2013, amending Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and battery and accumulator waste was transposed into Spanish legislation. The modification of this Royal Decree basically affects the bringing to market of portable batteries and accumulators that contain cadmium and button batteries with a low mercury content, and also adapts the content thereof to the provisions of Law 22/2011, of 28 July.
Finally, the replacement to the current Royal Decree 1383/2002, of 20 December, on the management of vehicles at the end of their useful life, is currently being processed for adaptation to the provisions of Law 22/2011, of 28 July.
Several instruments are used to protect the natural environment in Spain, such as the various types of Protected Natural Areas and the Natura 2000 European Ecological Network, in turn consisting of Sites of Community Importance (SCI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Bird Protection Areas (SBPA), and the protected areas declared as such by international instruments. The latter include the Biosphere Reserves forming part of the UNESCO MaB Programme: 45 of these exist in Spain (9.5% of Spanish territory), thereby ranking the country second in the world by UNESCO (behind the United States).
Natura 2000 Network (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)The highest level of protection of a territory is provided by awarding it National Park status. There are currently 15 natural spaces recognised as such in Spain, covering a total of 384,504.09 hectares (368,515.89 terrestrial and 15,988.2 marine). They constitute a State-coordinated system - the National Parks Network - and represent the main natural systems present in Spain housing a selection of the best natural heritage to be found in the country.
The Sierra de Guadarrama National Park was added to the network in 2013, a space of major environmental value occupying 33,960 hectares within the autonomous regions of Madrid and Castile-Leon. In the last two years, the new Law 30/2014, of 3 December, on National Parks, was enacted to considerably strengthen and consolidate their protection. Efforts also continued to expand the network. Specifically, the Tablas de Daimiel National Park in the province of Ciudad Real was expanded by 50% (1,102 hectares) and the Picos de Europa National Park was expanded by 2,467.59 hectares in Asturias. Efforts also began on a process to identify areas worthy of Marine National Park status.
In turn, the Natura 2000 Network is designed to ensure the long-term survival of natural and semi-natural habitats and the most important and endangered European wildlife species throughout the European Union. As at 2015, the Natura 2000 Network covered a total of 22.213.909,87 hectares in Spain, of which 13.783.561,04 hectares correspond to the terrestrial environment (27.22% of the land area of Spain) and 8.430.348,83 hectares correspond to the marine environment (7.90 % of Spanish waters). It comprises 1,467 Sites of Community Importance (SCI), of which 1033 are Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and 643 are Special Bird Protection Areas (SBPA).
The forest area of Spain, which covers over 27 million hectares, is highly significant in the production of goods and services. Besides producing timber, resin, cork, pasture and such fruits as pine nuts and chestnuts, mountain areas offer services of extraordinary importance, such as regulating the water cycle, contributing to prevent desertification, the production of oxygen, the capture of greenhouse gases, the protection of biodiversity and recreational services. To that end, Spanish forestry policy is aimed at protecting the important multi-functional role played by mountain areas. The goal is to preserve and increase forest heritage by taking effective action against the key threats (pests, disease and forest fire) and designing a new Spanish strategy to develop the energy use of forest biomass using a comprehensive approach that goes beyond the residues from logging and forestry processes.
Forest fire (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)In this regard, it should be noted that a Socio-economic Stimulus Plan for the Forestry Sector was published and implemented in 2014. This plan is allowing the economic and job creation opportunities offered by this sector to be harnessed, which are closely linked to the programme of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and the Rural Development Programmes (RDP) that stem therefrom to be developed. According to provisional data, approximately 2 billion euros in total public spending will be allocated by the EAFRD to forestry measures for the new period in Spain as part of the new RDP being designed by the regional governments for the period 2014-2020 (representing 14% of all programmed measures).
Furthermore, approval for the amendment to the Countryside Act will bring about a more cared-for and protected countryside in the best interests of the Spanish environment, as well as wealth and jobs in the rural environment, by protecting biodiversity, improving forest fire prevention and efforts to combat climate change, and better economic use of forest resources.
Our forests also help prevent soil erosion and desertification; risks that are threatening a considerable portion of the land area in Spain. Erosion leads to average soil losses in excess of 15 t/ha·year in seven autonomous regions. In two others, these losses stand at between 12 and 15 t/ha·year, while the losses stand at under 12 t/ha·year in another five.
Forest fires constitute one of the main threats to our forests. The number of minor fires and forest fires in 2014 was lower than the average for the previous ten-year period (2003-2014); 38% lower in terms of the total number of incidents in general and 44% lower in terms of the number of forest fires. The size of the wooded area affected by fire fell by 72% when compared with the average over the last ten years.
The Spanish coastline is a particularly unique place comprising a wide variety of climatic, marine, geological and sedimentary environments. This space is also used for highly traditional activities, such as fishing, coastal tourism and trade-related maritime transport, as well as other economic activities closely tied to the coastline space, such as aquaculture, all of which are fundamental to socio-economic and cultural development in Spain.
Ocean research vessel Miguel Oliver (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)Coastal policy is a key instrument for the Government of Spain. The new Law 2/2013, of 29 May, on the protection and sustainable use of coastal areas and the amendment to the Coastal Act 22/1988, of 28 July, as well as Royal Decree 876/2014, of 10 October, approving the General Coastal Area Regulations, are fundamentally aimed at protecting the Spanish coastline, which constitutes an inevitable duty for the public authorities. The reform of the legal regime governing Spanish coastal areas aims to reconcile significant coastal protection with the development therein of environmentally-sustainable activities capable of creating jobs and generating wealth. These regulations specify the assets that form part of the State Maritime and Terrestrial Public Domain (Spanish acronym: DPMT) according to technical criteria, regulate occupancy statuses within the DPMT - as well as the economic and financial regime governing the same, establish a series of limitations on the use of land bordering the DPMT in order to guarantee environmental protection and public use thereof, and also contain a complete regime of penalties to strengthen the physical and legal protection of this valuable space.
Management of the Maritime and Terrestrial Public Domain is aimed at defending the integrity of the coastal environment and its balance and physical development by protecting and preserving its values; guaranteeing its public use and enjoyment by all; and making rational use of its resources through economic and tourist activities, among others, that are compatible with its conservation.
In the specific field of coastal protection and improvement, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs has been working on preventive measures to control coastline erosion and degradation processes; protect and restore coastal ecosystems; regenerate and restore damaged coastal spaces; rectify any actions standing in the way of or restricting rational public use of the coastline; take steps to improve the environmental quality and public use of the coastline; and create infrastructure linked to the environment, such as coastal paths, environmental education infrastructure and visitor centres, management of the maritime-terrestrial public domain and protection of the sea. The Directorate-General of Coastal and Marine Sustainability allocated a budget of 64 million euros to these efforts in 2015.
Furthermore, a Strategy for Adapting the Coast to the Effects of Climate Change has been drafted to tackle the effects of climate change (particularly sea level rises and increased erosion). This strategy is provided for in Additional Provision Eight of Law 2/2013, on the protection and sustainable use of coastal areas and amendment to the Coastal Act, in which the various degrees of coastal vulnerability and risk are defined and measures are proposed for tackling the effects of climate change. Furthermore, Coastal Protection Strategies were drawn up in four areas: Huelva, Maresme (Barcelona), Southern Castellon (between the Port of Castellon and the Port of Sagunto in Valencia) and Southern Valencia (between the Port of Valencia and the Port of Denia in Alicante), which are aimed at preventing the effects of erosion.
The PIMA ADAPTA Plan was launched in 2015, which, in terms of coastal issues, represented an additional investment of 9.5 million euros in actions to adapt the coastline to the effects of climate change.
It is also worth highlighting implementation of the 2015 Coastal Plan that was launched following approval of Royal Decree-Law 2/2015, of 6 March, on the adoption of urgent measures to redress the damage caused by floods and other effects of rainstorms, snow and wind occurring in January, February and March 2015, which represented an additional investment of 21.4 million euros for repairing the damage caused to the Spanish coastline.
Law 41/2010, of 29 December, on the protection of the marine environment, is the legal framework governing the various actions aimed at protecting and improving the condition of Spain's marine environment. These regulations stem from the transposition into the Spanish legal system of Directive 2008/56/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive).
The main goal of said regulations is to achieve or maintain good environmental conditions in the marine environment by 2020. To this end, Marine Strategies have been devised as a marine environment planning tool. In Spain, a strategy is being developed for each of the five established marine demarcations: North Atlantic; South Atlantic; Strait of Gibraltar and Alborán; East Coast/Balearics; and Canary Islands. Having concluded the first four phases of the marine strategies (initial assessment, good environmental condition definition, establishment of environmental targets and monitoring programme design), the measurement programmes are being prepared for the five marine demarcations. These will be approved by Royal Decree-Law 42/2007, of 13 December, on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity. Creation of the Network of Spanish Protected Marine Areas (Spanish acronym: RAMPE) should be highlighted, which will comprise various types of areas and concepts.
Tabarca Island Marine Reserve (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs) Another of the goals related to the protection of marine spaces consists of expanding and managing the Marine Natura 2000 Network, which includes the declaration of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Marine Bird Protection Areas, as well as approval of their respective management plans. Approval has been granted for Order AAA/1260/2014, of 9 July, declaring Special Bird Protection Areas in Spanish marine waters, all of them governed by the State. Management plans for these areas will be approved within two years. Furthermore, 10 new State-governed marine SCI have been proposed to the European Commission: Sistema de cañones submarinos occidentales del Golfo de León, Canal de Menorca, Volcanes de fango del Golfo de Cádiz, Banco de Galicia, Sistema de cañones submarinos de Avilés, Sur de Almería-Seco de los Olivos, Espacio marino de Alborán, Espacio marino de Illes Columbretes, Banco de la Concepción and Espacio marino del Oriente y Sur de Lanzarote - Fuerteventura.
The State Secretariat of Environmental Affairs is preparing and updating the Spanish Inventory of Marine Habitats and Species (Spanish acronym: IEHEM), an essential instrument for assessing the state of conservation of marine heritage and acquiring new knowledge thereof. In this field, a State Benchmark Master List has been developed on the types of marine habitats to serve as a benchmark for all public authorities and parties concerned. Work is currently under way on the inventory of Spanish marine species.
Spanish Register of Endangered Species, an analytical review is being conducted of all available scientific data for the purpose of drawing up the mandatory conservation and recovery plans. For example, a strategy is being drawn up for the conservation of marine turtles, a plan is being drafted to manage killer whales in the Strait of Gibraltar and the strategy regarding the Balearic shearwater is being updated.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs carries out tasks involving coastal protection against accidental marine pollution, especially under the National Marine Pollution Response System that was approved by Royal Decree 1695/2012, of 21 Decemb
By developing that system, approval has been grated for Order AAA/702/2014, of 28 April, approving the State Coastline Protection Plan against Pollution. This plan will complement the regional plans put in place by the regional governments to ensure coordinated action against coastal pollution whenever a pollution incident is supra-regional or supra-national, or in cases of special need where there is an imminent danger of irreparable damage.
Spain is one of the 25 biodiversity "hot spots" on the planet and is considered one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the European Union. This is due to the special conditions afforded by the country's orography, size and geographic location. It is estimated that, on the Spanish landmass alone, there are close to 91,000 species, including 8,000 plant species - so embracing over 80% of all species existing in the European Union, and 59% of all species existing on the European continent. Of these 8,000 plant species, 1,500 are endemic, i.e. found only in Spain. The 50,000 to 60,000 wildlife species existing in Spain encompass over 50% of all species present in Europe.
||List of Wildlife species under a Special Protection System
||Nº of taxons on the List
||Spanish Catalogue (threatened categories)
Number of taxons, by taxonomic groups, included on the List of Wildlife Species under a Special Protection System and on the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species, according to Royal Decree 139/2011, of 4 February (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs).
Lynxes (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)As regards the conservation of forest species, one of the most important instruments is cataloguing because, at a national level, this requires conservation and recovery plans to be drafted, implemented and monitored for those species listed as "in danger of extinction" and "at risk".
Furthermore, the growing demand for certain species and the globalised trade thereof is leading to increasing pressure from invasive exotic species, which represent a serious threat to autochthonous species, habitats and ecosystems, the agronomy and economic resources associated with the use of natural heritage and even public health. With Royal Decree 630/2013, of 2 August, governing the Spanish Register of Invasive Exotic Species, Spain was one of the first Member States of the European Union to develop a comprehensive policy for the control of invasive exotic species.
The so-called second pillar of the EU Agricultural Policy funds the European rural development policy through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). This policy is applied via Rural Development Programmes that last for seven years. The option exists to implement the programmes for a few more years beyond the expiry period, which is known as the N+2 or N+3 rule (for the new period 2014-2020).
Application of the rural development programmes 2007-2013 is coming to an end in 2015 (they can be maintained until 31 December 2015) and the European Commission approved rural development programmes for the period 2014-2020.
Irrigation pool in Najerilla, La Rioja (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)For the period 2007-2013, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs drew up the National Strategic Plan on Rural Development and the National Rural Development Framework 2007-2013 in cooperation with the regional governments, which set out national guidelines on development actions and established certain measures to be implemented horizontally throughout the country, thereby encompassing all regional rural development programmes.
These measures were applied in Spain through 17 regional rural development programmes (one for each autonomous region) and the National Rural Network Programme. Regional programmes include the horizontal measures from the National Framework, with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs acting as the coordinating body. These programmes are co-financed by EAFRD, the Central Government of Spain through this ministerial department and the regional governments.
For the period 2014-2020, the EAFRD has been integrated into the so-called SIF (Structural and Investment Funds) alongside the ERDF, the ESF, the EMFF and the Cohesion Fund. Therefore, rather than have a national strategic plan for the EAFRD, there is a partnership agreement detailing the Spanish strategy for all SIF funds. The partnership agreement was drafted by the Ministry of the Treasury and Public Administration Services in collaboration with the ministerial departments in charge of the other funds.
It was agreed at the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Conference on 24 and 25 July 2013 that, for the period 2014-2020, the structure of the programme in Spain would have a national programme - a national framework - to establish those elements common to all rural development programmes and the 17 regional rural development programmes. The National Rural Network, which had its own programme in the period 2007-2013, now forms part of the national rural development programme.
Furthermore, an agreement was reached at the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Conference on 21 January 2014 regarding the distribution of EAFRD funds among the various rural development programmes. Of the 8.29 billion euros, 8.05 billion euros have been allocated to regional programmes with the rest allocated to the national programme. Furthermore, the funds generated by the capping were added to the programmes in 2015, with the allocation of EAFRD funds per programme being as follows:
|Asturias, Principado de
|Castilla y León
|Castilla - La Mancha
|Madrid, Comunidad de
|Murcia, Región de
|Navarra, Comunidad Foral de
Furthermore, Royal Decree 1080/2014 was published in the Official State Gazette on 20 December 2014 establishing the regime governing coordination by the authorities responsible for managing the rural development programmes for the period 2014-2020. These regulations establish the bases for coordinating application of the rural development policy in Spain.
All the Spanish rural development programmes were finally approved on 18 December 2015.
Rural Development and Irrigation Systems
Irrigation systems are an essential tool for contributing to the achievement of food security and nutrition in Spain. It is a farming system that enables production to be increased while fully respecting the use of natural resources and developing the land in a balanced manner. A total of 3,638,008 hectares are currently irrigated in Spain.
At present, irrigation is a rural development vector because it makes crop and livestock farming operations viable in those areas where they are implemented. Economic activity is diversified through irrigation, an agro-industry linked to production and jobs for women are created, while rural populations are strengthened and increased.
To that end, the policies on both new conversions and irrigation system modernisation developed directly by both the Directorate-General of Rural Development and Forestry Policy and the State-run company SEIASA are essential aspects of rural development policies aimed at sustainable water management.
Security against Adverse Weather Phenomena
The National Adverse Weather Phenomena Forecast and Monitoring Plan, known as Meteoalerta, has been fully consolidated in Spain as a key element in safeguarding lives and assets against the extreme weather phenomena that regularly affect the country. This national plan forms part of the European EMMA/Meteoalarm system, an alert portal fed by the early warning systems of the National Weather Services of over 30 European countries in 28 languages, including the four official languages of Spain.
A large number of adverse weather situations occurred in 2015. More specifically, a total of 13,530 warnings were issued: 32 red, 1,998 amber and 11,500 yellow. When classified by weather phenomena: there were 2,765 wind speed warnings; 2,092 hourly rainfall warnings; 1,906 coastal phenomena warnings; 1,275 daily snow accumulation warnings; and 1,230 storm warnings. As regards geographic distribution, a significant number of red warnings were issued for storms and daily rainfall in the Mediterranean area, as well as for coastal phenomena along the Cantabrian and Atlantic coasts.
Urban Weather Forecasting
Spain has a public forecasting system for the regional capitals and 8,117 villages in Spain. Forecasts are generated four times a day, both for the seven-day forecasts and the 48-hour forecasts. These forecasts provide a range of meteorological variables (temperature, wind chill, chance of rain, wind, humidity and UV radiation), which give a complete overview of both current and future weather.
Using this standard weather forecast information and in order to monitor the occurrence of certain weather phenomena classified as extraordinary, the SINOBAS application has been in place since 2013 (Spanish acronym for Extraordinary Atmospheric Observations Notification System) to gather and publicly communicate information on the occurrence of these phenomena, which are classified as follows: local (contained within a region), infrequent (occurring rarely), of significant strength and with a chance of causing significant social impact.
Despite their intensity, these phenomena are difficult to detect using conventional weather observation resources, either due to limited ground-based observation network density or the spatial and time resolution of tele-detection resources, such as satellites and radars.
A total of 32,092 incidents were detected and 141 reports issued in 2015, including 30 tornadoes, 40 extraordinary hailstorms, 25 sudden severe precipitations, etc. Of these, 114 were confirmed to a high degree of reliability. The provinces reporting the highest number of incidents were Valencia with 15 reports, the Balearic Islands with 11 and Alicante with 10.
Meteorological Support for Forest Fire Prevention and Response
The State Civil Protection Plan for Forest Fire Emergencies regulates the activity undertaken by the various agencies and entities of the Central Government committed to offering an effective response, both nationally and in support of those regional governments that so require. On a daily basis and for the entire country, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs provides weather information containing estimates on fire risk.
Doñana National Park (Pérez de Ayala, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs)This information comprises a series of maps indicating the forecast values for the current day and the following three days, using a meteorological index on forest fire risk. The FWI system is used to generate this index. In turn, this system is based on the CFFDRS System (Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System) that is currently the internationally-accepted standard and has been successfully implemented in numerous countries with highly varied climate and vegetation characteristics. It is particularly popular in southern Europe.
2,920 risk maps for Spain were generated in 2015 and 17,520 maps based on the other FWI indices.
Weather Forecasting for the 21st Century
Climate observation and monitoring, as well as climate research, modelling and forecasting, form part of the Global Framework for Climate Services that governments decided to set up during the 2009 World Climate Conference.
The global climate, and by extension the regional climate, is changing due to human activity - especially the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of fossil fuels and deforestation. To tackle this problem, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs calculates the climate change scenarios for the 21st Century with a regional focus on Spain for various emissions scenarios within the framework of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (Spanish acronym: PNACC). These calculations are vital to impact and vulnerability assessment efforts. The information is provided to users in both graphic and numerical formats.
Various models are used in Spain to produce monthly seasonal forecasts for the following three months. The results from these tercile-based probability predictions are represented on maps showing both precipitation and temperature for the four mainland quadrants, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, as well as the probability percentages for the three categories (high, normal and low) when compared with the benchmark period 1981-2010.
Furthermore, Spain coordinates the international MedCOF Project in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation to provide seasonal forecasts for the Mediterranean basin.
National Climate Data Bank
The National Climate Data Bank is the fundamental source of information for developing special studies on the climate and the influences of its variability on the environment and society. This data bank stores and manages all the information on climate variables ever measured by the monitoring stations comprising the meteorological observation networks and contains data series spanning over 200 years. The volume of stored information currently stands at 110 GB, with average annual growth of 20 GB last year.
Monitoring Meteorological Drought
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs performs ongoing monitoring and assessment of drought status at a national level, with information that is updated on a monthly basis and based on the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) corresponding to periods of accumulated precipitation that vary from one month to three years.
Soil humidity estimates are a fundamental element in terms of weather and climate support for the sustainable management of natural resources in such areas as forest fire prevention, assessing irrigation requirements and early estimations on drought risk. Such assessment and monitoring tasks are performed on a daily basis for soil humidity values based on the figures generated by the National Water Balance application. This application was updated in 2013 to enable more precise estimates on various aspects of the balance (precipitation, evapotranspiration, estimated humidity reserve at various soil depths, etc.) and provide increased spatial resolution, which currently stands at 5 kilometres.
Global Atmospheric Composition Monitoring
The Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre (Spanish acronym: CIAI) is located in Tenerife, Spain, and is one of the 29 stations comprising the Global Atmospheric Watch Programme (GAW) of the World Meteorological Organisation. Monitoring and research activities are carried out at the CIAI on those atmospheric components capable of leading to climate change on the Earth (greenhouse gases and aerosols) and a deterioration of the world's ozone layer, as well as those components that play a fundamental role in determining air quality at both local and global levels. In late April 2013, CO2 levels exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time ever. The Izaña station was the first in the world to report this situation. Important atmospheric trace gas validation activities were conducted last year, measured by EUMETSAT and NASA satellites. Meanwhile, new algorithms were also developed for identifying atmospheric gases from satellites.
Atmospheric sand and dust storm warnings and assessment
The Regional Atmospheric Sand and Dust Storm Warning and Assessment Centre for North Africa, the Middle East and Europe is one of the three regional centres (alongside those for Asia and America) designed by the World Meteorological Organisation to develop and coordinate the SDS-WAS: Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System. This centre - managed by Spain and based in Barcelona - records continuous and coordinated observations, as well as modelling sand and dust storms in order to improve our monitoring and knowledge of this type of storm, thereby improving predictions for a large swathe of the northern hemisphere.
Climate and Health Protection Information
The ultraviolet index (UVI) is an international measurement for the intensity of solar UV radiation and an indicator of its capacity to cause skin injuries. It is used for raising public awareness and warning people about the need to protect themselves when exposing their skin to solar radiation.
To measure ultraviolet radiation, the National Radiometric Network has 26 stations for measuring erythemal ultraviolet radiation. The instruments - UV radiometers - use a high-quality filter that imitates the response by human skin to ultraviolet radiation.
Using the data recorded throughout the year, the maximum annual ultraviolet index (UVI) is produced for each station in the network, determining the regions with the highest (generally-speaking the Canary Islands, Granada and the two central highland regions) and the lowest (Mediterranean region, Cantabria and Galicia) values.