Nature and Marshes around Oliva. Birdwatching in Oliva
The Natural Park and the dune: a unique environment
Mountains constitute an unexpected presence to the visitor in such a coastal resort. Nevertheless the Gallinera and Mustalla Mountain range from a perfect hairpin bend which constitutes the natural border of Oliva and the neighbour villages.
South from the coastal plain, the Oliva-Pegos Marjal Natural Park extends: a humid area, populated by an abundant fauna and autochthon vegetation. The Park is also visited by migratory birds looking for drinking water and its special and mild microclimate.
The natural dune surrounding the coast is of important ecologic value for being one of the best conserved among the few left in this part of the Mediterranean. It constitutes an added attractiveness to the beach sojourn, sensibly encreasing the landscapes quality showing the great beauty of its original aspect.
The Marjal Marsh and Natural Park
The Marjal is an extensive wetland, almost flat, with an underground water table that leads to changes in the water level throughout the seasons. Besides the sediment left by the rivers, the waves and currents have formed a coastal deposit known as La Restinga, which has gradually transformed gulfs and bays into marshes. Once these marshes filled with sediment, the Marjal was born. The
natural drainage of its waters reaches the sea by way of canals, rivers and underground waterways. The Pego-Oliva wetland takes water from the Gallinera and Mustalla mountain ranges via ditches and water pockets known as ullals, or via rivers such as the Racons, Molinell and the Vedat. The latter is considered the most efficient at storing water in Europe, given the number of natural reservoirs along its stretch.
The Marjal is, therefore, a flat area that floods seasonally as a result of rainwater and subterranean water pockets, or aquifers, amongst the mountains inland from the coast. These environmental features create unique vegetation and wildlife comprising mainly migratory birds that need these ecological islands to be able to complete their vital cycle. Rich flora provides a thick carpet of vegetation that gives shelter and food to birds as well as an ideal place for them to rest and build nests.
The park is used by migratory birds and you can see flamingos, ducks, coots, heron, storks and plovers. The park is a damp and boggy area of fresh water lakes which encourages the growth of many varieties of vegetation. There is also a huge variety of fish including eel, bass, loach, redfish and catfish. It is a protected area within the EEC.
The Spanish government included the Pego-Oliva Marjal in the Ramsar Agreement list in 1994, a list in which the world’s major wetlands figure. A year later, the Marjal and the rivers and mountains surrounding it were declared an officially-protected nature reserve.