Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Doñana - The shame of Doñana

Guy Mountfort was the prime instigator of the successful financing for purchasing land that saved the Doñana as we know it today. And yet you would never know it, unless you read various literature and references made in some official documents. It simply beggars belief that no visitor centre, no monument, no plaque or Park literature pays respect to the saviour of the land which forms the main part of this wonderful National Park.

1960 rumours were heard developers had their sights on the lands of the Doñana  By 1961 these rumours were confirmed, there were plans for a holiday camp stretching the full length of the sand beaches of the Doñana and the worst was plans to drain the protective eastern barrier of the marismas! The most notable of local people to side with the crusade of saving the area were Don Manuel and Don Mauricio González, as part owners of the Coto, with much to gain financially from the proposed developments; they heroically supported efforts to preserve it.

Money was needed to stem the advances of developers and Guy Mountfort mobilised support, a move that led to the renowned formation of the World Wildlife Fund. So eventually money was raised and with the support of the Spanish Government the area was purchased and the National Park came into being. Whilst local park centres and reserve areas pay tribute to local Spanish pioneers, just where is the local recognition for the hero and champion of the Doñana, Guy Mountfort? For me it is an extremely sad omission by national and local authorities alike. Be sure if it were not for Guy Mountfort, there would be NO Doñana!!


Les Burrows said...

Yes, a real shame. I have just stumbled across Guy Mountfort's 1958 book: 'PORTRAIT OF A WILDERNESS: The Story of the Coto Donana Expeditions', explaining three British ornithological expeditions in Andalucia, including the Donana, during 1952, 1956 and 1957. I look forward very much to reading it. I mentioned it to Frank Hair, who has been kind enough to send me the link to your blog. In my ignorance I had not heard of Guy Mountford, and a couple of very exciting visits to the Donana had certainly not changed that. He may not have a plaque, but word of mouth, blog and Facebook can be very effective.

Peter Jones said...

Absolutely Les and I hope you will also help spread the word for such a deserving man as Guy Mountfort. It really is quite shameful the lack of any official recognition given to his role in preserving the area of the Donana!