The Ebro Delta, covering an area of 320 km2, the largest aquatic habitat in Catalonia and offers a rich diversity of environments. River, sea, bays, beaches, dunes, saltmarshes, riverside woodlands, coastal lagoons, fluvial islands and ullals (pools), make up its natural landscape, and, along with the rice paddies, are home to a great variety of living things (birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and so on) adapted to the different habitats.
This biological wealth contrasts with the extensive human presence. To ensure harmony between the natural values and their exploitation by local people, and at their behest, in 1983 the Government of Catalonia declared the Ebro Delta a natural park (7,802 ha).
The importance of the delta is recognised worldwide: Bureau MAR list, Site of Community Importance for its halophyte plants, Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds, Natura 2000 site and Ramsar site (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance). Recently it has been accredited as an area under the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and as a European destination of Excellence (EDEN).
As a wetland, the delta is a productive environment on which innumerable plant and animal species depend for their survival. The marshes develop many vital functions, such as waters storage, protection against storms, stabilisation of the coast, recycling of nutrients and pollutants, etc. It also offers economic benefits for local communities through the traditional exploitation of its natural resources: fishing, hunting, agriculture, stockbreeding, saltpans and, more recently, tourism.
The convergence of the marine and mainland environment gives rise to a large number of fish species (about 50). As for birds, over 400 species have been cited in the delta for it houses some of the most important seabird breeding colonies in the Mediterranean. A total of 764 species of flora have been cited: A large number have had to adapt to the extreme conditions and colonise dunes, hypersaline soils, areas permanently under water, etc.