The Natural Park of L’Albufera of Valencia, with 21.000 hectares, is one of the most important wetlands in Europe and an example of interaction between mankind and nature.
In this hugely valuable natural environment, three ecosystems can be differentiated:
L’Albufera lake covers practically the same surface as the whole city of Valencia (2.100 hectares) and its maximum depth is only 1.5 metres.
Water in l’Albufera is fresh, as it comes from the surrounding rice fields. These, in turn, are supplied with water from the Júcar and Turia rivers. The lake discharges its water to the sea through several “golas” (artificial canals controlled by gates) throughout La Devesa forest, which separates L’Albufera from the Mediterranean Sea.
Thousands of birds visit the lagoon every year during their migratory trips. The vegetation, formed by several shrub islands and by the wild borders between the lake and the rice fields, offer shelter to rest, feed, mate or breed...
Nevertheless, this biodiversity treasure suffers the pressure of being surrounded by a large metropolis with more than one and a half million inhabitants. Its eutrophised waters stop the lake from achieving its gigantic ecological potential. For this reason, the efforts to protect the lake and to improve its water quality and quantity are increased year after year.
More than 14.000 hectares within L’Albufera Natural Park are used for rice crops, potentially compatible with the conservation of this natural environment. It is the largest habitat of this protected area. Crop land, paths, canals and ditches make up 70% of the total surface of the Natural Park.
It represents the main feeding area for water birds in the Natural Park, both for wintering and nesting periods. The ever-changing landscape in L’Albufera throughout the year is mostly due to the phases of rice crops: green in the summer, blue in the winter and brown when they are not flooded.
Mostly, rice fields are land reclaimed from the lagoon during a transformation process that reached its peak during the XIX century.
Rice crops have great relevance from an economic, ecological and landscaping point of view.
Between L’Albufera lagoon and the Mediterranean Sea, a sand stripe of 10 kilometres holds La Devesa of L’Albufera. La Devesa is a coastal forest of 850 hectares where we can find from a recovered dune environment to a wild pine forest.