Entobiology of Wetlands in the National Parks of Las Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros

From our origin as a species, each community, each village has explored its immediate surroundings, observing and studying nature to be able to decipher its possibilities and its resources; food, clothing, tools, medicine … The mysteries of the natural world have been unveiled by generations of human beings who have preceded us on the planet, our ancestors. Ethnobiology studies and analyzes this link, the deep relationships between the human being and the rest of living beings, the cultural diversity put in relation with biodiversity.

The Biodiversity of the national parks of Cabañeros and Tablas de Daimiel has been studied for several years, both from the point of view of flora and fungi and of fauna. We cannot say the same about the so-called Cultural Biodiversity, that is, that which results from the interaction between the human being and the different ecosystems, based on the knowledge associated with the management of resources and that relates the cultural heritage with the heritage natural, all through the Traditional Knowledge System (TKS). Traditional knowledge linked to biodiversity is the object of study of Ethnobiology.

The surroundings of the national parks of Daimiel and Cabañeros and the extensive corridor between both protected areas, the region known today as «Entreparques», house unique ecosystems, among which the Mediterranean forests and shrubs and the various wetlands present in the area include trampales or bonales (peatbogs), the tablas (freshwater marshes that occur along streams and rivers) and the Guadiana River itself which structures the area. Not to forget brackish or alkaline waters of ponds. But they are not only the home of these communities of organisms and their physical environment, but they are also the space where deeply rooted and adapted human communities have developed their existence for centuries. For surviving there it has been essential the use and exploitation of natural resources, a process that shaped the landscape, giving rise to meadows, fields, orchards, etc.

Among the outstanding natural resources in the area are the dense populations of helophytes, the plants of the marshes, such as reed, sedge, vallunco, masiegas, reeds or aneas. They have served as building material, fuel, medicine, grass, fibers for basketry … The rivers and wetlands, today dusty channels by the overexploitation of the aquifers, maintained a rich aquatic fauna, especially the populations of fish and crabs, which was support for the «people of the river», a community well differentiated culturally that maintained a way of life now extinguished. We have a good example in our Guadiana River, once a source of life, work and natural resources for the people who lived on its riverbank. Today it is a river that has died due to lack of water. This is most likely due to a poorly understood progress, which allowed to make decisions that led to its channeling, the clearing of its banks and the destruction of its bridges and millenary mills.

Mediterranean forests and shrubs, so abundant and present, provide hunting, pastures for livestock, firewood, charcoal, wild fruits such as acorns or the berries of strawberry trees and medicinal and aromatic plants, among other resources.

The project ‘Ethnobiology of Wetlands in the National Parks of Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros’ aims to document the vast body of traditional knowledge associated with nature and its resources, to prevent its disappearance and allow its survival under other frameworks as could be ecotourism or environmental interpretation. The culture associated with nature is also part of the identity of each community.