Case study:Strengthening associated biodiversity of habitat 92A0 and control of Invasive Alien Species in the Segura River (LIFE + Ripisilvanatura)

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Location: 38° 14' 15", -1° 37' 10"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site http://
Themes Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Monitoring
Country Spain
Main contact forename Jaime
Main contact surname Fraile
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura
Contact organisation web site http://
Partner organisations Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia (Subdirección General de Medio Natural); Universidad de Murcia (Departamentos de Ecología e Hidrología, y de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología); Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste - ANSE; Ayuntamiento de Calasparra & Ayuntamiento de Cieza.
Parent multi-site project


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encompassing the following
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Project summary

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Despite the Segura River makes its way in many through unique vegetation in many sections of the stream, the riverside or riparian forest (ripisilva) is in serious danger due to the threat of invasive species which are gradually occupying its space. LIFE project "Ripisilvanatura" aims to control the expansion of Invasive Exotic Species existing on the riverbanks of the Segura River and promote the colonization of the riparian forest by native species.

As mentioned before, the main objective is to promote the recovery of the riparian forest, specifically of the habitats of Community interest 92A0 and 92D0 as well as their associated main habitats in the most degraded area of that habitat through the Segura River which is located after the largest reservoir of the entire basin (Cenajo reservoir). It is an area of maximum condition and progressive deterioration of the habitat corresponding to the Vega Alta del Segura in Moratalla, Calasparra and Cieza. To achieve this goal, the project aims to fight against Invasive Alien Species (IAS) since they have colonized the original niche of such habitat. AIS are the key actors of the substantial problem for the River Segura in the Region of Murcia; the loss of primary habitat is an advantage for opportunistic species of both fauna and flora, entailing an obvious loss of the rich biodiversity that was traditionally linked to the Salicaceae and Populus ripisilva. Thus the main strategy pursues the recovery and protection of riparian forests from the middle course of the river basin in the stretch including the municipalities of Moratalla, Calasparra and Cieza by controlling invasive alien species primarily within the habitats listed as “priority” because the species of fauna that are the subject of this project find their niche in these habitats.

Fulfilment of the following specific objectives set will enable the success of the project:

• Creation of a green infrastructure between the two riparian nature reserves of the region.

• Regeneration and protection of the priority habitats of community interest and the habitats of interest associated with the river.

• Protection and conservation of priority and European special protection fauna.

• Elimination of invasive exotic plant species through hands-off management.

• Removal of ichthyofauna and exotic birds via citizen engagement and the competent administration.

• Prevention and eradication of fires along the riverbed.

• Creation of a Land Stewardship Network for the Vega Alta.

• Provision of ITCs as a very versatile tool for the fight against IAS and biodiversity conservation.

• Generation of protection measures for the threatened pre-existing ripisilva clumps.

• Publication of an Integrated Management and Control Strategy on Invasive Alien Species

Monitoring surveys and results

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Surveys have been carried out to study biodiversity indicators focused on five components:

- indigenous riparian habitats and their ecological quality (vegetation

- Physicochemical water quality

- Aquatic macroinvertebrates and quality index

- Riparian birds

- Semi-aquatic vertebrates: Otter (Lutra lutra) and water rat (Arvicola sapidus)

In addition, other faunistic taxa(amphibians and reptiles, bats and molluscs) have been incorporated as a goal of monitoring.

Lessons learnt

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The project has contributed to the control and monitoring of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in the study area, mainly exotic Galapagos, as well as the replacement of vegetation on riversides of the Segura River from non-native to native. During the project, different trial management techniques have been carried out for the eradication of giant reed (Arundo donax) and exotic Galapagos (Trachemys scripta). The exotic Galapagos and other exotic species specimens captured during the surveys have been transferred to the Wildlife Recovery Center for management.

The implementation of the different actions has been developed through the participation of volunteers involved in the project. They have contributed to the plantations, removal of IAS from the river, installation of bat boxes and riparian birds banding activities.

The immediate occupation by riparian vegetation returns the river to its natural condition. Among its multiple benefits this status does not promote the spread of fires and gives shelter to numerous native species.

Another achievement of the project has been the raise on awareness among the sectors involved in animals’ sale. Formative talks about the impact that IAS have on rivers have taken place along the project term to put across the message to actual owners and future buyers.

Image gallery

Scope of action
Riparian vegetation cultivared at the nursery
Volunteering planting action
Mediterranean Galapagos (left) vs. Exotic Galapagos (right)

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district C. H. Segura
River basin Segura


River name Segura
Area category more than 10000 km²
Area (km2) 18870
18,870 km²
1,887,000 ha
Maximum altitude category 1000 - 2000 m
Maximum altitude (m) 1413
1,413 m
1.413 km
141,300 cm
Dominant geology
Ecoregion Ibero-Macaronesian
Dominant land cover
Waterbody ID

Other case studies in this subcatchment: LIFE Segura Riverlink (Through rivers), Segura's River Bioremediation


Name Río Segura desde Almadenes hasta Ojós (SEG7) y Río Segura desde el embalse del Cenajo hasta Almadenes (SEG6)
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology R-T14 & R-T16
WFD water body name Segura River
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation All - multiple designations across the site
Local/regional site designations Habitats of Community Interest
Protected species present Yes
Invasive species present Yes
Species of interest To remove (IAS): Exotic Galapagos (Trachemys scripta) and Giant reed (Arundo Donax)
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use Intensive agriculture (arable), Plantation forestry, Urban
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 57000
57,000 m
57 km
5,700,000 cm
Project started 2014/09/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed 2019/08/31
Total cost category 1000 - 5000 k€
Total cost (k€)
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources EU co-financing (49.75%).

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Invasive species, Riparian development
Hydromorphology Structure & condition of riparian/lake shore zones, Quantity & dynamics of flow
Other reasons for the project Removal of AIS of flora and fauna and recovery of the riparian forest for habitats of Community interest


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Planting of native species, Removal of invasive plants, Restoring riparian vegetation, Structuring of shoreline
Floodplain / River corridor Alloctone species control, Vegetation management
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Management of undesirable plant species, Implementation of best practice land & soil management, Promotion of riparian vegetation and natural re-growth of bankside, Riparian tree planting, Removal of invasive species
Social measures (incl. engagement) Volunteer engagement, Creation of a Land Stewardship Network, Community education (talks and workshops)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Structure & condition of riparian/lake shore zones Yes Yes No Yes Yes Improvement

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Invertebrates Yes Yes Yes No Yes Awaiting results

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Bat Survey Yes No No Yes Yes Awaiting results
Mammel survey Yes Yes Yes No Yes Improvement
Terrestrial mollusks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Awaiting results
Birds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Improvement
Macroinvertebrates (IBMWP) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No change
Habitat mapping Yes No Yes Yes Yes Improvement
Connectivity [Lateral & Vertical] Yes Yes Yes No Yes No change
Water Quality (Conductivity, Total suspended solids (TSS), Nitrates) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Improvement

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description
http:// Map that gives information on the geographic location of alien species detected on the Region of Murcia. New observations could be uploaded using the App "Exóticas Murcia" (Android only)
http:// Twitter profile of the project
http:// Facebook profile of the project
http:// Code of environment-friendly farming practices.
http:// Action protocol on the detection of alien invasive species of fauna in riparian habitats
http:// library/get file?uuid=f16a3176-140f-496c-bbb5-c154087c1b47&groupId=14 Learning guide for scholars about the riparian forest

Supplementary Information

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To contact us with any questions, suggestions or for more information please send an email to or do it through social networks:

Ripisilvanatura on Facebook : Ripisilvanatura Ripisilvanatura on Twitter : @ripisilvanatura