RICE growers in Valencia’s La Albufera natural park are fuming about the increasing numbers of flamingos that’s threatening their crops.
Farming associations have called on measures to be adopted including controlling the bird population.
The Valencian Association of Farmers (AVA-ASAJA), says that that flocks of flamingos have caused serious damage in recent years, in addition to problems caused by other species like ducks.
The head of the AVA-ASAJA rice sector, Jose Pascual Fortea, says that in spring, the flamingos ‘trample newly-sown fields with such virulence that farmers not only lose their plants but in many instances don’t bother to replant because it is not worth it as the size of the harvest is so small that it doesn’t balance out production costs’.
“The situation is very worrying and sitting idly by is not an option if we want to continue producing rice, a crop that contributes decisively to the maintenance of the natural park,” warns Pascual.
AVA-ASAJA wants various administrations to take action such as reducing the flamingo population ‘to reasonable levels that allow it to be compatible with rice farming’ or paying an adequate amount of compensation to pay for all the damage done to crops.
In autumn 2022, a birdlife census in the Albufera wetland produced record numbers with 114,000 pairs of birds, including numerous flamingos, which experts attributed to the good state of the water and the rice field.
That also coincided with the deterioration of other natural areas such as Doñana in Andalucia.
The census also warned of increased damage to La Albufera crops as a result of the rising bird population.