Photo: Spanish beach
Almost half of the 3,500 or so beaches along the Spanish coast form part of the Natura 2000 network, the main conservation, management and sustainable development instrument for biodiversity in the European Union.
On its 10,000 kilometers (about 6,200 miles) of coastline, Spain has 3,458 beaches, of which approximately 1,557 - or 44.74 percent - are part of Natura 2000, the Environment Ministry said.
Spain is the EU country contributing the most territory to this network of protected spaces, the European Commission said in its latest report on the matter.
The beaches, selected for their location less than 50 meters (about 165 feet) from a ZEPA bird protection sanctuaries or LIC community interest sites, are a good example of environmental management that blends enjoyment of the environment in wild areas with protection of the natural heritage.
Among the hundreds of beaches in the southern region of Andalusia, one of the largest beaches to be part of the Natura network is the Doñana beach in the town of Almonte, a beach that is some 28 kilometers (17.4 miles) long and bordered by dunes in the National Park of the same name.
The Valdevaqueros beach, in Cadiz, belongs to the Strait of Gibraltar Nature Park and is one of the last large and undeveloped beaches in Spain. It is more than 4,050 meters (2.5 miles) long and classified as a biosphere preserve by Unesco.
The golden-sanded beach at Villamarin O Grove, in the northwestern region of Galicia, deserves special mention. It is 500 meters (yards) long and located in a ZEPA zone.
To furnish information to the public about Spain’s 3,458 beaches, including weather forecasts, the Environment Ministry provides a detailed “Guia de playas” (beach guide) on its Web page.