Restoration of Laguna del Cañizar in Spain, we should learn from this!

I came across this news in British Birds website (contributed by Jeremy Brock) about the restoration of Laguna del Cañizar which is a lake in the municipalities of Villarquemado and Cella, Teruel province, Aragon, northeast Spain (see why I posted this at the end of the post):
“Spain’s conservation credentials have received a boost with the restoration of a major inland wetland, originally drained nearly 300 years ago. The Laguna del Cañizar near the village of Villarquemado in Teruel province was drained in 1730 to provide additional land and water for agriculture, and to combat malaria, which was endemic in Spain at that time. Now, thanks to a government initiative, with the help of local conservation volunteers and support from the local villagers, much of the lake has been restored. Work began in 2006 and is still continuing, but there are already substantial areas of open water and reedbeds. When fully restored, this will be the second-largest freshwater lagoon in inland Spain.
Species such as Purple Swamp-hen Porphyrio porphyrio and Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris have already returned, and a substantial population of Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus has established itself. Regular visitors include Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Black Stork Ciconia nigra and Great White Egret Ardea alba. A variety of wildfowl, ranging from Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna to Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina are wintering, and the lagoon is visited by large numbers of Common Cranes Grus grus from the major wintering flock at another important wetland, the Laguna de Gallocanta, 40 km to the north.
With two major wetlands within easy reach of each other – and some splendid steppe in between – this relatively unknown area of northeast Spain is well worth a visit.”

Please compare these beautiful pictures (above and below) with the ugly ones form Smir lagoon, northern Morocco.

I also found this article: Rubio Dobón J.C. 2007. Pasado, presente y futuro de la laguna del Cañizar. Xiloca 35: 189-200. [PDF file], which its abstract says:

"The Cañizar Lake was one of the largest freshwater wetlands of inner Spain. It extends along the shores of Villarquemado, Cella and Santa Eulalia. Until recently, we didn’t know that it existed. Nowadays, there is a project focused on its partial recuperation. These works have been aimed with a double target: to improve the environment and create an attractive natural area that generates a financial gain related to rural and nature tourism".

More information and photographs in the website of the "Fundación laguna del Cañizar" at:

And what is the relation of all this to Morocco, the answer in three words: we should learn from this experience. Here in morocco, we are unfortunately in a race against time to destroy our wetlands: Smir wetland (SIBE, Site d'Intérêt Biologique et Ecologique) and the estuary of Oued Moulouya (Ramsar Site, Important Bird Area and SIBE) are being destroyed now. And what is next in line?

One may say "and the recent good action in Sebkha Bou Areg in Nador, have you forget it?" No, I didn't forget, while it is true that Marchica ornithological park was a good initiative but it is equally hard to see that several hundreds of hectares of wetland habitats are being lost somewhere else in Morocco.

Mohamed Amezian