The management project of the Brugent Natural Protected Area has been pioneering in Catalunya in terms of river basin regulation.
Catalunya is experimenting a significant increase of visitors inflow. The case of the river pools in Planes d'Hostoles and Sant Feliu de Pallerols is an exemple of success and innovation in the management of this impact.
The Town Halls of this two municipalities, together with Emys Fpundation, have dealed with this problem in an holistic way. They have given value to this natural protected area, juggling nature conservation and the possibility to visit this area, as well ascitizen coexistence.
The 4 cornerstones of the Brugent Natural Protected Area management project
In the Brugent Natural Protected Area we can find many species of great natural interest, key pieces in the river ecosystem and the riparian forests. Some of them are in danger of extinction, such as the otter (Lutra lutra), the mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis), the european eel (Anguilla anguilla) or the white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes).
This management project aims to mitigate the antropic impacts that this areas bears to preserve its natural values. The most relevant impacts are are overcrowding of the river pools and introduction of invasive species, such as false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) or the giant cane (Arundo donax).
A system of tickets sale has been implemented to regulate the access to this natural area. The number of people that can access daily the area is called carrying capacity. This number is determined taking into account several economic, ecological and social factors.
The funds raised with the tickets sale are entirely allocated to two different causes. The first one is to cover the cost of 7 environmental informants and 2 rural guards, who give information to the visitors and make the access and use regulations effective. The other allocation of the funds raised is carrying out maintenance, cleaning and conservation actions within the protected natural area.
To reach the sustainability of this managment project in all its dimensions, including the social one, a participation process has been carried out. These actions consists on asking for the opinion and listening to the different proposals made by the neighbors and other stakeholders. Ultimately, the will is to improve the residents' life quality, because they have been deeply affected by the overcrowding in the river pools.
The good results in the participation process with neighbors and stakeholders and the decrease in the inflow of visitors in the area endorses the success of this type of natural protected areas management in Catalunya.
On the other hand, the citizens than attend to the place as visitors will also be involved in the participation process, in order to promote good practices when visiting the protected areas and to foster conservation attitudes towards the river ecosystem.
River stewardship pretends to hold users and owners linked to the river area accountable, as well as competent administration, with the aim to encourage nature conservation, enhance biodiversity and improve the environmental status.
Where the Brugent river is concerned, the definition of competences where blurred and there where poor and scarce tools to manage nature. Inspite of this, thanks to the Town Halls of Planes d'Hostoles, together with Emys Foundation, in march of 2018 started a process to regulate uses and accesses in the natural protected area.
The Town Hall of Sant Feliu de Pallerols added to the initiative in 2020 for the sake of a comprehensive management of the Brugent river. This process has completed on 2021 with the when all the stakeholders mentioned (the Town Halls and Emys Foundation) signed an agreement with the Catalan Water Agency for the stewarship of the Brugent river.