Habitats Present

It turns out that in the Salt pans de O Ulló and Larache, and in the surrounding area, there are several “habitats” that are considered to be of great value. What is a habitat? A habitat is a physical place, land or water in which there are certain characteristics and fortunes that make it ideal for animals and plants to survive. Some of these habitats are less common or unique, so they need to be studied and conserved in order to be maintained over time. These habitats are considered to be of Community Interest, i.e. they are protected by European law. Some of these habitats even have a top priority.

Riverside forest

In fact, more than half of the territory occupied by the salt marshes has some of these habitats of interest. Mainly in the marine and intertidal zone where grasses grow that are accustomed to the salty water. These are the so-called marshes and reed beds where the fresh water mixes with the salt water at each tide, as in the old salt pans or “Salina de San José” or in the “Lagoa” or Salinas Vellas (Old salt mines).

Larache salt pans
Salt pans of O Ulló
Marsh vegetation. Rushes
Marsh vegetation. Rushes

But if we look up we find a forest in the surroundings that is also an important habitat. This is the alluvial forest made up of a mixture of trees such as alder (Alnus glutinosa) and ash (Fraxilus sp.). And it is precisely this habitat that is considered a priority habitat to be conserved by the European Habitats Directive and also by the Spanish and Galician regulations that apply it. If you walk along the banks of the Salinas Vellas, the shade is created by these trees.

Riverside forest

In spring, the slopes of the hillsides surrounding the San Simón inlet are tinged with pink and yellow by the flowers of the ericas (Erica sp.),manna ash (Ulex sp.) and  common heather (Calluna vulgaris) that cover the ground. These habitats, although outside the Salinas, are also considered a priority. We must bear in mind that nature does not understand rigid borders and that habitats move from one place to another. Even more than we think, they are a form of living being.

But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that we also find species in the territory that should not have arrived here and that their presence seriously affects the native species of the place. Some of these are exotic and invasive species, such as Blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), Australian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) and the silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) or Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), among others.

Gorse and thorn bush

The habitats have a lot to do with the local flora. And it is upon this where animal species develop. These species and communities need to be studied further to be able to estimate the conservation status of the site and take measures to protect and improve it.

Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Black acacia (Acacia melanoxylon)
Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)
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