Buying land to save the species of Spain

15 December 2010 | News story

Some of Spain’s flagship species such as the Iberian lynx and brown bear are benefiting from the work of IUCN Member organization Fundació Caixa Catalunya.

At the end of the 1990s, there was no organisation that aimed to protect natural areas by acquiring land or through land stewardship agreements in Spain. Very few land purchases were carried out in previous decades by larger conservation organisations or foundations and never as a part of a long-term programme; the land stewardship concept was poorly developed.

Fundació Caixa Catalunya, created by the Caixa Catalunya Savings Bank at the end of 1997 with the aim of preserving biodiversity and natural areas and raising public awareness, is now the largest private landowner in the Catalonia Region.

The foundation owns 24 areas totalling 7,834 hectares, and 99% of its property is included in the Natura 2000 network (the European Union network of nature protection areas). It also helps to manage another 159,000 hectares through land stewardship agreements, covering 5.1% of the Catalonia Region.

Conserving species such as the lammergeyer, Iberian lynx, brown bear, monk seal, and Bonelli’s eagle are part of a programme run by Caixa. The black vulture has been successfully reintroduced in the Pyrenees, along with the otter in the rivers of north east Catalonia and the white stork in six locations across the region.

The foundation’s long-term programme is working to acquire land to establish a network of private protected areas, to be managed by the foundation in cooperation with other NGOs and public bodies. It also supports more than 400 biodiversity conservation projects in the Catalonia Region and the rest of Spain, and a Nature Centre in the Pyrenees which attracts 15,000 visitors a year.

This is just one example of the diversity of actions taking place across Europe to save biodiversity. Read more in the the Made in Countdown 2010 publication that showcases conservation results carried out under IUCN's Countdown 2010 initiative.