Tablas de Daimiel National Park ( Parque Nacional de las Tablas de Daimiel ) is a nature reserve in south-central Spain on La Mancha plain in the province of Ciudad Real.
It is a wetland in an arid part of Spain. Tablas de Daimiel (TDNP) is the smallest of Spain's fourteen national parks. It covers an area of 19.28 km². As well as having national park status, it enjoys international recognition, being: TDNP is a floodplain wetland created where the Gigüela river joins the Guadiana river.
It is home to many bird species, some year-round residents, some migratory. The National Park takes its name from the town of Daimiel, although 70% of the park's territory belongs to the municipality of Villarrubia de los Ojos and only 30% to Daimiel. Like other Spanish wetlands, the Tablas de Daimiel had a long tradition of waterfowl hunting. The value of the ecosystem for hunting continued to give the Tablas a certain amount of protection into the 20th century. In 1963 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ( IUCN ) launched a project to conserve and manage wetlands, the MAR Project, which drew up a list of wetlands of international importance as a foundation for an international convention on wetlands. The draft called for the protection of wetlands habitats rather than species. The Tablas de Damiel were declared a National Park in 1973. In 1980 the national park was extended and UNESCO included Las Tablas in a biosphere reserve. In 1982 Las Tablas were included on the list of the Ramsar Convention (an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands). In 1987 Las Tablas were declared a Special Protection Area for birds under the European Union's Birds Directive. The park is the last surviving example of floodplain wetlands located in the arid central part of the Iberian peninsula.
Being located downstream from the Upper Guadiana Basin, TDNP play an important role in nutrient biogeochemistry. The wetland landscape is characterized by recurrent seasonal inundation which until recently was maintained by both river flooding and groundwater discharges. The park's surface is 19.28 km², and the highest inundation comprises around 17 km. TDNP is one of the most important aquatic ecosystems of Spain and was probably the main inland wetland. It is important too because of the great amount of migratory birds that pass by the zone, like ducks and geese. Las Tablas de Daimiel are provided with two types of water making an unusual ecosystem: the Guadiana contributes fresh water, while its tributary the Gigüela is brackish. The fresh water of the Guadiana favors the growth of the Common Reed ( Phragmites australis, Phragmites communis ), and the briny water of the Gigüela favors the growth of the marshy vegetation, principally the Great Fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus). The Great Fen-sedge abounded extraordinarily, and it was one of the most extensive zones in Occidental Europe. There were groups of Bulrushes ( g. Typha, Scirpus lacustris, Scirpus maritimus) and Rush in the least deep areas. Charophytes ' grasslands are one of the most characteristic formations of the National Park formed by different sorts of Chara genus (Chara hispida, Chara major, Chara canescens), also known locally as "ovas", and were able to form an almost continuous tapestry.
The only trees present are the Tamarisk (Tamarix gallica, Tamarix canariensis). Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Wigeon (Anas penelope) and many others.
We may find the European freshwater crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), that it was in the past abundant and an important source of income for Daimiel's families, today almost extinguished in these waters. After the introduction of the great predator that the Northern pike (Esox lucius) is, other autochthonous species like the Barbus ( Barbus barbus ), the Common carp (Cyprinus carpio ), or the Chub (Leuciscus cephalus ) are now endangered species. In the spring and the summer we may find amphibians and reptiles like the European tree frog (Hyla arborea), the Marsh Frog, the Common Toad (Bufo bufo), the Fire Salamander ( Salamandra salamandra ), the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) or the water snake Natrix maura. Also we may find mammals like the European Polecat (Mustela putorius), the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), the European Otter (Lutra lutra), the Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius), as well as the ones that live in proximities of the wetlands: the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), the Cape Hare (Lepus capensis), the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) or the Boar (Sus scrofa).