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Natural spaces around Huelva Port (A_26)

Huelva Port is located in an area of great environmental and biological importance. Adjoining it, and in fact forming part of the service area, are a number of protected natural spaces taking up an area of approximately 12,000 hectares, of which 560 hectares are located within the Port’s service area.

These spaces are operated on several protection schemes such as Nature Areas, Nature Reserves, Biosphere Reserves (MAB Programme), the Wetlands of International Importance on the RAMSAR List, Special Bird Protection Zones (“ZEPAs”) and Community-Interest Locations (“LICs”), and they are as follows:

Name Type of space10 Distance to the port11
Nature Area - Marismas del Odiel MAB, RAMSAR, ZEPA, LIC Partially included
Nature Area - Estero Domingo Rubio ZEPA, LIC 0 Km
Nature Area - Laguna de Palos y las Madres RAMSAR, LIC 3.2 Km
Nature Reserve - Isla de Enmedio MAB, RAMSAR, ZEPA, LIC 1 Km
Nature Reserve - Marismas del Burro MAB, RAMSAR, ZEPA, LIC 0 Km

10 LIC, ZEPA, Humedal RAMSAR, Site of Cultural Interest, etc.
11 The distance is taken to be to the physical port, in other words, Shore Zone and Zone 1. When it is partially or fully within, “included” or “partially included” will be indicated as appropriate. When it is adjoining, “0 km” will be indicated.


The Marismas del Odiel Nature Area

One of these areas is well known as a large environmental space (6.631 hectares) – the Marismas del Odiel Nature Area, which is an official Biosphere Reserve, ZEPA Zone and LIC location, and is also on the RAMSAR List. It contains two Nature Reserves: Isla de Enmedio and Marismas del Burro.

Part of this Nature Area is within the Port’s Service Area and takes up an area of 562 hectares, specifically the right bank of the Odiel Estuary, which does not have any port operations. This means there is a close link between management of this nature area and the Port Authority, as it forms part of its Trust and the projects ongoing in this space. This includes the 2011 European Sustainable Tourism Charter, with several projects to protect environmental and cultural heritage carried out by the Huelva Port Authority. The projects were as follows:

The ecological value of the Odiel “marismas” or marshes is that they are ecosystems consisting of estuary, tidal and continentalised marshlands, and high-productivity coastal sands, a strategic location for birds to nest and migratory birds to breed, with a large variety of habitats and landscapes.

This Nature Area was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1983, and is the habitat of protected species such as the spoonbill, the grey heron, the purple heron, the western marsh harrier, the osprey, the flamingo, the black stork and the otter, among others.

Figure 1: Protected natural spaces around Huelva Port. Source: In-house.


Schematic description of projects to regenerate the natural environment undertaken by the Port Authority, and valuation of the cost of these projects in euros (A_28)

Environmental recovery of the left bank of the River Odiel estuary

  • Place: River Odiel estuary marshland
  • Development status in 2019: developed
  • Year: 2016
  • Investment and expenditure in €: 2,574,939,52€


As has been previously indicated, the Port of Huelva’s Service Area is located in a setting of estuary and tidal systems noted for their ecological high value. That circumstance has strengthened the Port Authority’s environmental performance as the basis for the balance and coexistence of the port development and nature conservation.

In turn, that means that the actions planned by the Port Authority require exhaustive studies and inventory of the natural environment, both of the port and surrounding areas, with special mention of the work on the local Habitats of Community Interest, protected species, estuary beds, etc.


  • The increase of plant diversity of the restored port saltmarshes by means of introducing (as seeds and seedlings) new threatened native halophyte species from nearby saltmarshes (e.g. Inula chritmoides L., seashore aster, sea lavender, seaheather, etc.).
  • The monitoring of the plant communities in high, medium and low saltmarshes with special focus on threatened species (Zostera noltii and Spartina maritima) and invasive exotic species (Spartina densiflora). Progress is thus being seen in terms of cover, ecological diversity or total biodiversity of the species established in the studied saltmarshes, and the abiotic characteristics for their comparison with the previous results.
  • Study of the zoning of the bird community in relation to the plants and characteristics of the abiotic environment along the tidal gradient in the port saltmarshes restored during their maturity.

Huelva estuary river walkway and pedestrian pathway

  • Place: Huelva River Estuary
  • Development status in 2019: developed
  • Year: 2016
  • Investment and expenditure in €: The investment is included in the one previously defined. 


Port-City outreach


  • A river walkway (1 km long and 80 m wide) has been built near to the city. The walkway was opened recently and has been warmly welcomed by society. It is deemed a very positive contribution to the Port-City integration as showcases a zone traditionally used by the citizens of Huelva.
  • A pedestrian pathway (3322 m long and 2 m wide) has been built along the left bank of the River Odiel estuary, between the former Pertrechos Wharf and Punta de Sebo. The aim of the project was to facilitate the connection between the city of Huelva and Punta del Sebo, using alternative means of transport.
  • Furthermore an environmental route has been set up along the pedestrian pathway along the Avenida  Francisco Montenegro.

Educational programme associated to the restored port saltmarshes on the Huelva River Estuary

  • Place: Huelva River Estuary
  • Development status in 2019: developed
  • Year: 2018
  • Investment and expenditure in € 17,910€


  • Dissemination of environmental information and foster environmental education for the general public.
  • The recovery of the social use and the cultural values of the space, and the Port-City integration.


Different specific activities were undertaken:

  • Dissemination of the environmental values associated to the restored area by means of producing and publishing specific material, using the diverse birdlife as an educational resource.
    1. Producing and published the “Guía de aves de la ría de Huelva” [Guide to the Birds of the Huelva River Estuary].
      Producing and publishing “Dípticos didácticos de identificación de aves marinas” [Educational leaflets to identify marine birds]

  • Developing a programme of environmental education activities aimed, mainly, schools in the city of Huelva and municipalities linked to the Huelva estuary.
    1. Environmental education for schoolchildren.
      Working with the University of Huelva's Sustainability Learning Centre and the Odiel Saltmarsh Natural Landscape on awareness-raising activities, environmental education and social participation, driving the multiplying effect of the project results.

  • Promoting the impact and dissemination of the project's results.
    1. Working with the largest possible number of schools and local authorities.
      Disseminating the activities carried out through the website, RRSS and the media.

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