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Factsheet: Negro

Country ES
River Name Negro, Fontirín and Sapo
Site Name Negro
River Characterisation
    River typology
    Location (Lat Lon) 42.0640137633838, -6.28139019012451
    Altitude high: > 800 m
    Catchment area
    Geology Siliceous
    National code/
    River type name
    25 de montaña húmeda silícea

    Biological quality elements
    Ecosystem Services
    EU Directives
    Project size 400 ha
    Approximate costs > 1 000 000 Euros
    Synergy Included in protected areas LIC ES4190067
    Status In progress
    Period of realization 2009
    Implemented by Confederación Hidrológica del Duero. Ministry of Environment

    Key features of the case study

    • The ecological improvement of the Negro river[1] is part of a national river restoration programme, Estrategia Nacional de Restauración de Ríos, developed by the Ministerio de Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino (Ministry of Environment). The Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero is the organism which has implemented this project, as others of the Duero basin.
    • The principal objective of this initiative is to recover trout populations and the naiad Margaritifera margaritifera, which is in serious danger of extinction.
    • The main threat to these species is the presence of weirs that make difficult or impossible the migration of the trouts upstream,which are the propagation vector of the naiads, affecting their reproduction.

    specimen of naiad from the Negro river.Image from Rodriguez et al.,2008

    Site description

    The Negro river drains the the area located at the south of Sierra de la Cabrera, of siliceous substrate (gneiss, slate and quartzite). The climate is meaditerranean with atlantic influence. The vegetation at the basin is composed of Pinus sylvestris, Pinus nigra and Pinus pinaster, although the potential corresponds to Quercus pyrenaica, and in the lower areas of the left bank, a dry series of Quercus rotundifolia. the intensive livestock farming, the use of fire and the deforestation of the basin led to the curent state of the vegetation. The riparian vegetation in the middle and lower sections is dominated by a siliciphilous riparian geomegaseries of Alnus glutinosa, while the upper sections dominated by Salix salvifolia and other willows which, together with the alders, jointly dominate some middle and lower sections. Important riparian formation of Populus tremula on the lower section. State of conservation: in the middle and lower areas these riparian strips coincide with farmed alluvial plains, conserving narrow galleries which in some places are highly degraded and in others have even disappeared (Rodriguez et al.,2008)[2].

    The actiation area is located in protected areas: SCI ES4190067 "Riberas del río Tera", SCI ES4190110 "Sierra de la Cabrera" and ZEPA ES4130024 "Sierra de la Cabrera"

    In hydrographic terms it belongs to the Duero basin, being a left-bank tributary of the river Tera, which in turn is a right-bank tributary of the Esla, subsequently flowing into the Duero via its right bankThe average flow is ususally less than 0.6 m/s, of clear waters as the suspended matter normally do not exceed 2 mg/l. However, forest fires and some management practices of the watershed, involve the sediment scouring, resulting in an increase of suspended solids and a noticeable loss of water quality.

    The total or partial removal of riparian vegetation at some reaches has caused the loss of natural channel morphology. The transformation of the riparian forest and floodplain into flood meadows is another reason of morphological alteration.
    There are various impoundments at the river for different uses(mills, forges, irrigation pipes,etc.)increasing the solids contribution and the interrupting the longitudinal connectivity.

    Negro river
    Presence of transversal barriers at the channel.

    Measures selection

    The project aimed to:

    • Recover aquatic populations and improve instream habitats
    • Improve the composition and structure of the riparian vegetation
    • Ameliorate longitudinal connectivity of the fluvial system

    The main measure is directed to improve the longitudinal connectivity by the permeabilisation of 11 weirs, incorporating fish passing structures. The weir of Rionegro del Puente, located before the Negro river flows into the reservoir of Nuestra Señora de Agavanzal, is kept in order to prevent the entry of invasive species like Lepomis gibosus from the Tera river.
    The second measure for recovery the target species is the spawning habitat improvement through the installation of spawing structures for facilitate trout breeding and the restoration of former spawning areas (channel morphology rehabilitation and sediment removal), today disappeared due to the fines deposition. The undesired sediments are originated at hillslopes affected by fire, forest works, earth movements in infrastructure works, etc. The adaptation of waterwheel lateral channels as spawing ares is also planned.
    The improvement of water quality is achieved in two ways: improving the purification of urban waste and by hydrological-forestry actions. The last consists fundamentally in the creation of Buffer Strips for reduce the sediment input from the hillside.
    The riparian zones will be revegetated with native species by plantation and sowing. Complementary silvicultural treatments will improve the structure, composition, and health status of the the riparian vegetation as well.
    Other measure is the improvement of the public use and the hydraulic heritage through the rehabilitation of old waterwheel of ethnographic interest.
    As the naiad population is old and has breeding problems, a captive breeding program is developed parallel to the aquatic habitat improvement. A monitoring program will be working during the whole restoration process (expected to last 38 months) and some time after its ending, for check the good preformance and the effectiveness of the planned measures.

    Success criteria

    • Recovery and renewal of trout and naiad populations.
    • Water quality status and aquatic habitat quality
    • Morphological quality of the riverbed and longitudinal connectivity

    Ecological response

    Hydromorphological response

    Monitoring before and after implementation of the project

    a monitoring program will be active during the whole restoration process (expected to last 38 months) and a period of time after the ending of the woks. The aim is to check the correct performance of the works, their effectiveness, and modify the initial design of the project if necessary.

    Socio-economic aspects

    The total budget of the project is 2.562.767,99 €. The duration of the works are estimated in 36 months. [3]

    Extra background information

    In the Douro basin, recent studies determined the presence of several freshwater bivalve species, such as the naiad Margaritifera margaritifera or from the family Unionidae.
    The interest of this species and the degree to which it is threatened led to the development of a LIFE programme for its conservation in the Zamora SCI (LIFE03-NAT/E/000051) promoted by the Regional Environment Department of the Regional Government of Castilla y León, and supported and cofinanced by the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Spain.
    Work was carried out between the years 2003-2007 by specialised personnel who assessed naiad populations (densities, composition and abundance) and implemented actions for the conservation of this species. The Negro river´s naiad population, are the best conserved in the Duero basin, although it is found highly aged (60-80 years old) and fragmented.
    The common trout, which is parasited by the larva phase in a complex biological cycle.The naiad larvae need to be attached to young strout guills for survival.

    Contact person within the organization

    Ignacio Rodríguez Muñóz.
    Comisario de Aguas de la Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero.


    1. SAUCE Bulletin of the National Strategy for River Restoration. nº 1.November 2009 [1]
    2. I. Rodríguez, Herrero J.M. & Gutiérrez F.Project for ecological improvement of river Negro and tributaries (Zamora-Spain) 4th ECRR Conference on River Restoration. Italy, Venice S. Servolo Island. 16-21 June 2008
    3. Boletín Oficial del Estado. Thursday, 21st May,2009. Final award of the contract for the execution of the project for improve the ecological state of the Negro river and tributaries (Zamora)[2]
    Presentation of the project at the 4th ECRR International Conference on River Restoration [3]
    Web site of the Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero (National Strategy for River Restoration)[4]

    Related Measures

    Related Pressures