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Heavy metals and pesticides threaten a Huelva wetland
Date:1/14/2011

be prevented if there was greater control over the inflow of herbicides and fertilisers".

An altered ecosystem

Previous studies have used molecular biomarkers to document the biological consequences of pollution in the area and its effects on soils and plants in the wetland region.

To this must be added the alteration to local hydrodynamics, which has "a negative effect on the ecosystem, modifies the natural levels of heavy elements in it, and puts the wildlife communities that live in it at risk", points out Barba-Brioso.

The construction of roads has formed hydrological barriers in the upper parts of the Estero de Domingo Rubio, meaning the wetland now has two distinct hydrological and environmental areas one marshland zone, with abundant halophile vegetation (characteristic of saline soils), and a lagoon zone with aquatic and riverbank vegetation.

"Both of these zones are drained by a network of ephemeral tributaries, which are affected by intensively irrigated crops and industrial activities", the researcher says. The lagoon area and the streams in the river basin are "also affected by the lixiviates from this intensive agriculture, above all from the strawberry farming that is carried out in the area", the scientist explains.

However, the researchers say that hydrological restoration and environmental improvement work is currently being carried out in the area of the Estero lagoon by the Junta de Andaluca regional government and the European Union by means of the European Regional Development Fund.


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