MAGRAMA promotes joint Spanish-Portuguese declaration of EU’s first International environment River Nature Reserve


The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs, through the Hydrographic Confederation of the Miño-Sil (CHMS), is promoting the declaration of the European Union’s first International environment River Nature Reserve. The declaration between Spain and Portugal involves two cross-border rivers, the Troncoso and the Laboreiro.

The declaration arises from a project entitled Environmental Quality of International River Nature Reserves and the Water Environment (CARISMA), the results of which were presented in Ourense. This project was carried out within the framework of the Programme for Cross-border Cooperation Spain-Portugal 2007-2013, which promotes the development of areas on the border of the two countries.

The president of the CHMS, Francisco Marín, highlighted the fact that “for the first time in Europe, authorities from different countries had reached an agreement to protect and enhance shared rivers”.

The Ministry, through the CHMS, is coordinating this project, in which the Administration of the Northern Hydrographic Region of Portugal and the Municipal Council of Melgaço are also participating partners.

The project has a budget of over €2 million and the proposed declaration of an International River Nature Reserve has received a favourable report from the Miño-Sil Water Council.

As part of the first set of initiatives to improve water quality and quantity in the two rivers, a limnological study was carried out to characterise the benchmark conditions of the waters of the two rivers. This study demonstrated the excellent conservation of the rivers and their ecosystems, a major factor in the two rivers being declared international river nature reserves.

This first block of initiatives also included the development of a water supply system to a number of towns in the surrounding areas of the Laboreiro River, including Castro Laboreiro in the municipality of Melgaço (Portugal).

Initiatives designed to correct small sources of pollution from domestic wastewater included the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in the municipality of Padrenda (Ourense), which will enable the purification of water in the area of Ponte Barxas. The new facility will serve a population equivalent of over 600 and will enhance the environmental quality of the Troncoso River. Two compact wastewater treatment plants have also been built in Portugal, in the districts of Fiaes and Melgaço.