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Healthy ecosystems and a rich biodiversity are vital for human welfare and survival. Ecosystems provide a multitude of benefits to people. These range from food, clean water and raw materials to flood protection and cultural heritage. However, climate change and the shifts in land use can alter nature's ecosystems and the habitats that support life, from oceans to forests.
To address some of these challenges, the EU-funded ECOPOTENTIAL project has been focusing on internationally recognised protected areas (PAs), including mountain, arid and semiarid, and coastal and marine ecosystems.
PAs - Project - Sierra - Nevada - National
One of the PAs covered by the project is the mountainous Sierra Nevada National Park in Andalusia. As explained in an article by the United Nations Environment Programme, water management in the Park is key to sustaining economic activity and ecosystem functioning. The irrigation channels on the mountain slopes of Sierra Nevada that date back to the 9th century divert water from the springs and streams at higher altitudes. Then, they deliver it to the lower-lying crops, grasslands and forests. "This process slows down the hydrological cycle, making good use of the water resources."
Several economic activities in the region, such as agriculture, tourism, cattle raising, bee-keeping and mining, are highly dependent on this water, as are all downstream towns and villages. Climate change has already altered the hydrology of Sierra Nevada, impacting both ecosystems and communities. "At the same time,...
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