The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Wildlife Centre was founded in 1984 and is currently located within the Natural Park of Aiguamolls, in the municipality of Castelló d’Empúries, in the county of Alt Empordà, Catalonia.
Since it’s inception, the centre has had various functions, during recent years specialising in the rescue, recuperation and rehabilitation of wild animals.
The work carried out by the centre is focused on the treatment, care and eventual release into the wild of protected native species indigenous to the surrounding region of Girona, and, where necessary, analysing the cause of death.
When a wounded wild animal is found, it’s important to take it as soon as possible to the Natural Park of Aiguamolls de l’Empordà so it can be examined by the staff at the Wildlife Centre.
The Association of Friends of the Natural Park of Aiguamolls de l’Empordà (APNAE) has always had links with conservation and projects promoting nature and spreading the values of the Natural Park.
In 1983 when the whole area of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà became protected and given Natural Park status, the Wildlife Centre was incorporated into the Park, later becoming part of the Generalitat of Catalonia’s network of Wildlife Centres, with responsibility for it’s budget falling to the Generalitat.
When, in the summer of 2013, the Generalitat announced that due to budget cuts the Wildlife Centre would be forced to permanently shut it’s doors, the Alt Empordà Institution for the Study and Protection of Nature (IAEDEN) organised a campaign against this closure. With the support of the APNAE, in just 10 days they were able to collect eight thousand signatures on a petition, organise a massive event in the park supporting the campaign, and achieve the final result of keeping the Wildlife Centre open!
The Wildlife centre is currently maintained on a year-on-year basis thanks to a tripartite agreement between the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Diputation of Girona and IAEDEN. For it’s part, IAEDEN maintains regular meetings with APNAE with the purpose of sharing the tasks necessary for the maintenance of the Centre.
The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Wildlife Centre’s mission is to:
- Treat and rehabilitate Girona’s native wildlife species for later release into the wild.
- Provide expert advice, research and investigation to the University and other institutions.
- Educate to increase awareness of environmental issues. Improve access to, and the appreciation of local nature and indigenous wildlife.
The reason that the Generalitat is proposing closure despite the Centre’s elevated levels of activity is due to the deteriorated condition of the installations, with planning regulations within the reserve of Aiguamolls forbidding improvement work. With a considerable investment towards enabling adaptation to the current challenges (carry out conservation projects for EU priority fauna; adequate equipment for developing environmental education work) the continuity of the Wildlife Centre is dependent upon it’s relocation.
The current state of the issue is based principally upon the tripartite agreement between Generalitat, Diputation and IAEDEN. According to this agreement:
- The Generalitat assumes the cost of the staff member responsible for the Wildlife Centre and the minimum material necessary for their job.
- The Diputation of Girona assumes the cost of the Wildlife Centre’s rehabilitation staff member.
- IADEN assumes the cost of the Wildlife Centre’s veterinarian and the strategy taking the installations towards self-sufficiency.
One of the core aspects of a sustainable project is to ensure the promotion of the Centre and carry out projects linked to education and environmental awareness. This aspect of the Centre’s work is shared between IADEN and APNAE and it is within this context that assistance is requested.
On 1 July 2014 an application was made for assistance to the Department of Agriculture, Cattle, Fisheries, Food and Environment of the Generalitat of Catalonia covering 2014 and 2015.
APNAE has applied for a grant from the Alchimia Foundation which will help to pay any costs not covered by the tripartite agreement and enable completion of the environmental education work needed for the Wildlife Centre.
The fauna of the Natural Park of Aiguamolls is the key to enabling environmental awareness educational activities linked to the Wildlife Centre.
The material needed to be able to properly and coherently carry out these activities are as follows:
A. Educational material
This must be suitable for all levels and ages: infant, primary and secondary education. In all cases the content of the material will be developed according to the school curriculum by age groups, and coherent with the fauna present in the Natural Park and the process of rehabilitation of animals in the Wildlife Centre of Aiguamolls. In all cases priority of admission to the Centre will be given to protected species.
Material will be developed for each group to build educational resources, for example field notebooks or games adapted to the different age groups and conceived to encourage learning through enjoyable activities.
Although the long task of defining the content and uniting thread for the different levels remains, the development of the following educational tools is being considered:
- A gigantic storybook
- A mobile of the Park’s fauna, for the very youngest children.
- A game based on the food chain within the Park.
- Notebooks for the different levels
- Identification cards for the Park’s fauna.
In the development of these materials there are four steps to follow:
- Coordination of the project and all materials
- Define the content
- Design the material
- Print the material
B. Information panels, for young people and adults.
The visits to the Centre will be conceived for youngsters as well as adults, with panels offering information about the fauna within the Park and the rehabilitation, investigation and educational work of the Wildlife Centre.
The creation of five panels is proposed: two panels for the most significant groups of fauna within the Park; The conservation of habitat as the best solution for the preservation of biodiversity; What is the Wildlife Centre?; What should we do when we find an injured animal?
The work needed to carry out would be to develop content, design and production of the information panels.
C. Web page
IADEN currently manages a web page with information regarding the Wildlife Centre. This takes the form of a blog divided into the following sections: News; Agenda: Information about the Centre; What to do when we find an injured animal.
An update of the website is deemed necessary, using wordpress to make it more current. The work to carry out would be:
– Define content.
– Contract an agency to update the web page.
To accompany the information panels, we consider it important to have an explanatory video enabling visitors to easily familiarise themselves with the Wildlife Centre and the species that inhabit the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà. This would be a video suitable for any language, explaining what the Centre is, and outlining it’s current activity.
A few words from the beneficiaries:
From the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Wildlife Centre, we would like to say thank-you for the assistance given to us by the Alchimia Foundation, enabling us to develop projects related to nature conservation.
In the summer of 2013, the Centre was at the point of being forced to close it’s doors due to cutbacks by the Generalitat of Catalonia. Since then, it has fallen to IADEN and APNAE to work towards securing the continued presence and activity of the Centre.
At the moment we have been able to keep the Centre open, with it’s staff working to care and rehabilitate any injured wildlife in the province of Girona.
The Alchimia Foundation will assist us to develop educational tools to promote the Centre and increase environmental awareness, which will be of great help in the ongoing work so important to the Centre’s mission.