Intensively irrigated agriculture in the north-west of Doñana
ABSTRACT: The Doñana region in southwestern Spain is one of the largest and most complex natural systems in western Europe. Groundwater resources constitute a key component of its natural processes and a fundamental input for the intensive irrigated agriculture that began in the 1970s and it is now one of the most important economic drivers in the region. This agricultural activity and its associated groundwater use affects the hydrological cycle of the Doñana both in terms of quality and quantity and puts pressure on its sensitive ecosystems. Since the 1990s, several initiatives were undertaken to find a balance between socio-economic development and nature conservation and avoid reaching a deadlock situation. The complex nature of the resource system, the presence of unauthorized extractions, unsolved ownership issues and a fragmented institutional structure hinder the establishment of a sustainable resource use regime.