Laguna del Cañizar. Villarquemado y Cella
The ancient lagoon:
Humans have always transformed the natural environment around them. One of the natural environments most damaged by human action has been the wetlands. Over the last few centuries, many of them have been lost in order to use their beds and waters for agriculture and livestock farming. This is the case of the Cañizar lagoon. With a surface area of 11.3 km2, this lake area was one of the largest freshwater wetlands in inland Spain. Despite several attempts at drainage during the Middle Ages, it can be said that the lagoon was maintained until the beginning of the 18th century. Between 1729 and 1732, work was carried out for its definitive draining. These works were directed by the Italian engineer Domingo Ferrari, who also designed the parapet that surrounds the Cella spring.
The rebirth of a landscape:
The Cañizar lagoon was reborn at the beginning of the 21st century thanks to the understanding between the people of Villarquemado and Cella, the support of the Ministry of the Environment and the invaluable collaboration of other people and entities dedicated to the defense of the environment. At present, the area set aside for the lagoon exceeds 524 hectares, of which 411 hectares are flood zones and the rest are wet meadows of great ecological value. The road travelled to recover El Cañizar has not been easy, nor has it been completed. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the great work carried out by the lagoon’s volunteers, people who altruistically contribute their time and knowledge to protect the ecosystem, build observatories, publish informative material, carry out studies and raise awareness of its environmental value.
Fauna and flora:
The wide variety of environments within the lagoon (wet meadows, reed beds, reed beds, thickets) means that the biodiversity of this site is very high. Since the lagoon began to fill up in the winter of 2008, more than 200 different species of birds have been observed. Some arrive in large flocks, such as the cranes (up to 10,000 birds rested in the lagoon in the winter of 2010). Others are in serious danger of extinction (crab heron or bittern). Mammals include, among others, the presence of martens, genets, foxes, roe deer, wild boar, otters, water rats and American mink (an invasive species). The most numerous vertebrates are amphibians (of which eight species have been found) and fish, among which a small native species, the “bermejuela”, stands out.
Today, the new Cañizar lagoon is already the fifth largest inland wetland in Spain and the second largest freshwater wetland, second only to the Tablas de Daimiel National Park.
It has a network of canals six kilometres long, which facilitates access to its deepest part.
In some places it is more than a metre deep. When full, this wetland is capable of storing more than two million cubic metres of water.
To arrange a guided visit, you can contact María (guide of the lagoon), at the following telephone number: 636 51 84 38