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playa jewel scientific interest danger matorral

Playa del Matorral, a jewel of scientific interest in danger
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Playa del Matorral, a jewel of scientific interest in danger.

The beach of the scrub is known for its scenic beauty, but in addition to this it has a scientific interest for its climatic conditions and the physical environment.



An ecosystem of scientific interest
The geographical location of the Site of Scientific Interest of Playa del Matorral, on the southern slope of the Jandía Peninsula, means that it has a hot desert climate, with dry summers and very low average annual rainfall. Being a coastal environment, the space is subject to a strong saline influence, a fact that determines the uniqueness of the plant communities that have a place in it and those of its associated fauna.

Inside the protected area, natural ponds are formed sporadically as a result of the penetration of seawater, which floods a good part of the sandy areas of the area and its plant communities. The existing vegetation turns out to be constituted by halophilic communities, represented by species subject to the climatic conditions of the place. There are excellent populations of mato (Sarcocornnia fruticosa), brusquilla (Suaeda vera) and uvilla de mar (Zygophyllum fontanesii), among other species.

The ecosystem of the salt marsh is associated with an interesting avifauna with several species of migratory seabirds and waders that call at the islands of the archipelago. Species such as the common sandpiper (Calidris alpina) or the tridactyl sandpiper (Calidris alba), are some examples of the birds that are usually seen in the protected area. In addition, other species of semi-desert environments have also been described, such as the emblematic hubara (Chlamidotis undulata fuerteventurae), an endemic subspecies that has been adopted, along with the Jandía cardon, as an emblematic symbol of the island.

The avifauna of the salt marsh in danger
At present, the observation of this avifauna in the Site of Scientific Interest of Playa del Matorral seems to have declined as a result of the frequent presence of tourists who use this area as a bathing area. In fact, the space occupies a coastal strip that is in front of a complex of hotels and apartments, belonging to the important tourist center of Morro Jable, which has meant a certain degree of deterioration for this space.

In addition, the Site of Scientific Interest of Playa del Matorral has been described as the only place in the archipelago where the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) lays its laying (López-Jurado, et al., 1997), a fact that attributes to this enclave a high added value that should be the object of attention for further studies, since at present it is not known if this species continues to use this area for such purposes.

A threatened space
On the other hand, the enclave that occupies the Site of Scientific Interest of Playa del Matorral, although it does not have a population inside, is subject to strong anthropic pressure. Its proximity to important tourist establishments, some of them invading the limits of the space itself, the intense influx of visitors who use the space as an access road to the beach, the opening of tracks and trails, usually traveled by different vehicles, in addition to the uncontrolled and occasional dumping of debris, are some of the actions that have not favored the conservation of this enclave.

Other episodes that in the past are known to have had significant impacts are the discharge of contaminated water into the Vinámar ravine and the occasional overflow of the facilities of the old Saladar treatment plant when its capacities are exceeded.
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