Margal Ulla is the project that the Galician regional authority, Xunta de Galicia, is developing during the period 2010-2015, within the European Union framework of the LIFE+ Programme. It aims at the recovery of the freshwater pearl mussel populations, Margaritifera margaritifera (Linneo, 1758), and Pyrenean desman, Galemys pyrenaicus (Geoffroy, 1811), in the Ulla river basin.
Under the coordination of the Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Ministry in the Galician government, Consellería de Medio Rural, and with the collaboration of the University of Santiago de Compostela and Augas de Galicia as associated beneficiaries, Margal Ulla will help improve the conservation status of the above-mentioned species, reinforce the existing ones in the Ulla River, and establish suitable conditions for recovery of the original populations.
A series of actions over the area which takes in most of the Ulla basin will be developed in order to achieve these objectives. These actions will increase knowledge about the current conservation status of Margaritifera margaritifera and Galemys pyrenaicus which can then establish the most suitable conditions in order to improve the conservation status and the habitat of these species .Strategies will be drawn to raise public awareness and to publicise the results of these projects. These measures can be extended to other Galician and European rivers, where there are still specimens of these species that suffer from similar threats.
It is necessary to underline that the naiad and the Iberian desman are two species that require good ecological quality fluvial means to prevent their current decline. Thereby, the measures provided in this project are aimed at the recovery of the natural functionality of the rivers belonging to this basin. This will also favour the conservation of a rich endemic biodiversity with which these species share their fluvial habitat, and it will improve the services that this ecosystem provide to our society (river fishing, water quality, leisure, etc.).
In addition, it is the first time that it is jointly considered the conservation of these two species, intervening in the improvement of their habitat, and it is also the first restoration experience of the populations Margaritifera margaritifera under semi-natural conditions that are controlled in Spain.
This project, which counts on a total budget of 3.666.981 €, is co-financed by the Life+ Programme in a 49, 68 %. This programme is a European Union financial instrument which has fostered the application and development of the community politics and legislation as regards to the environment since 1992. In particular, Margal Ulla is entered in the thematic scope of Life+ Nature and Biodiversity, which encourages those projects that contribute to the conservation of natural habitats and wild birds and to the development and carrying out of the Red Nature 2000 in order to curb the loss of biodiversity in the European Union international scope.