In an effort to raise levels of protection and increase the number of potential lines of action, the area of the marine park covering the lslas Columbres islands is expected to be extended to almost double its current surface area of some 1,200 hectares. The new conservation area will be given the official status of Marine Reserve, bestowing maximum environmental protection upon the islands in the face of major pressure from fishing and leisure activities. The final decision on the expansion project is expected to be taken next March, once the previously commissioned reports on the flora and fauna have been duly studied.
The Columbretes lsiands, a voicanic archipelago 55 km off the Castellón coast (Spain), with an approximate surface of 19 Ha, is made np of 10 small istands distributed in four groups. The largest isiands are known as lila Grossa (13.33 Ha, 67 m), lila Ferrera (1.53 Ha, 43 rn), ha Foradada (1.63 Ha, 55 m) and lila Carallot. Of these, only the first three islands are large enough to harbour vascular plant species.
Of all of Spain‘s marine reserves, the islas Columbretes reserve has the greatest capacity for scientific research into marine activities and the highest international standing. Marine cartography works currently being undertaken have produced spectacular results, making the islands one of the greatest marine resources in the Medíterranean.
The Islas Columbretes also benefit from state-of-the -art technology in their struggle for conservation, such as the only submarine robot in the whole of Spain, which is capable of providing underwater images from a depth of 600 metres and thereby shedding light on the wealth and biodiversity of the islands’ ecosystem. In addition, work has just begun on the lighthouse in order to improve its facilities and convert it into a residential study area for scientists.
The Columbretes islands —emerged portion- were declared Natural Park by the Autonomous Government of the Valencian Community in 1988. Subsequently, in 1991, the marine eiwironment of the Columbretes archipelago was declared Marine Reserve in order to preserve its outstanding richness. The Natural Reserve comprises an area of 4400 Ha surrounding the islands.
The archipelago is home lo one of the largest nesting colony of the rare mediterranean Marine Reserve.
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