Protected Nature in the Doñana National Park


Doñana National Park, situated in the Andalusian region of Spain, covers a vast expanse of approximately 1,300 square kilometres, making it one of Europe’s largest protected areas. The national park covers a diverse range of ecosystems, including marshlands, pine forests, and shifting sand dunes visible in the satellite images.

Satellite imagery show the intricate web of water bodies, including the Guadalquivir River and its tributaries, which are essential for sustaining the park’s biodiversity. Doñana is a sanctuary for over 300 bird species, such as flamingos and the rare Spanish imperial eagle.

Agriculture has a significant impact on Doñana, with around 25% of its area utilized for farming. The park faces challenges from agricultural practices, which have altered its hydrology. Crops such as rice, strawberries, cotton, and sunflowers dominate the landscape. Rice fields, covering approximately 12,000 hectares, are a vital part of the local economy and ecosystem. They serve as feeding grounds for numerous bird species, especially during the winter months.

Strawberry cultivation is another significant agricultural activity in the region, with Doñana being a major supplier of strawberries to European markets. This industry, however, has faced scrutiny for its water consumption and pesticide use, posing challenges to the park’s delicate balance.

Furthermore, the effects of climate change are increasingly felt, with rising temperatures and more frequent droughts. Conservation efforts have intensified in recent years, with over 400,000 hectares surrounding the park designated as a buffer zone. More and more sustainable agriculture practices and strict land-use regulations are implemented to mitigate human impact.


  • Satellite Map:
    • Look at the satellite image maps and click on the layer selector in the upper right. Deselect the layer « National Park Donana » and all satellite images by unticking the respective boxes.
    • The Open Streetmap (OSM) map remains. Which land cover classes can you identify?
    • Add the overview satellite image. Which land cover classes can you identify? Compare with the OSM map.
    • Switch the layer « National Park Donana » on and off and compare the areas inside and outside the national park borders. What differences can you see with respect to the visible structures?
    • Switch the overview satellite image on again. Switch the detail satellite image on and zoom in to the maximum reasonable scale (the image should remain sharp). Switch the detail satellite image on and off and compare the level of detail of the overview and the detail image. Look especially at artificial objects such as roads and settlements.
    • How can satellite images help manage a national park like this one?
  • EO Browser:
    • Open the EO Browser.
    • Find the most recent Sentinel-2 dataset covering the area displayed in the satellite map.
    • Select a true colour visualisation.
    • Can you identify recent changes in the area (check e.g. agricultural land)?
    • Select the false-colour infrared representation. Can you identify the land-use of the most intensely vegetated areas (represented by bright red colours)?

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