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The heather of the mines (Erica andevalensis)

Erica andevalensis is a very unique plant, and not only because it is the unique species of health endemic in the Iberian Peninsula (1), but also because it usually lives in bushes bordering streams affected by acid mine drainage (AMD), rich in copper salts and dried tailings pyrite mine (2).

 Characteristic habitat of the heather of the mines.


Certainly the expansion of this species from its original habitat, which could be associated with outcrops of Gossan (3), was helped by the booming mining industry during the nineteenth century and first third of XX

Therefore, despite to grow in such extreme locations, its geographical distribution is relatively wide (mainly in the region of Andévalo), and this heaths can be find in locations as far south as the population referred to in Corrales (Aljaraque) in front of the city of Huelva (4) or even in Portugal, where it was first identified in São Domingo Mine (5).




Incomplete geographical distribution of Erica andevalensis (6).


Maybe for these reasons this singular heather was excluded from the Andalusian Catalogue of Threatened Species, in which appeared with the highest level of protection "endangered species"; nowadays it remains a protected species but has a lower degree of protection, it is included in the Andalusian List of Wildlife Species in Special Protection Regime (Annex X of Decree 23/2012 of 14 February).


Erica andevalensis in LIFE ETAD plot


Use in the plot on which the LIFE ETAD pilot plant will be installed has always been linked to mining activity, and in fact it is occupied almost entirely by mine waste (tailings). Therefore, as was to be expected the heather of the mines was widely detected in this area.

Next, Erica andevalensis distribution in the plot and photographs of each defined areas are shown.



Heather distribution figure.

Area 1.

Area 2.

Area 3.

Area 4.

Area 5.

Reception area.

Conservation measures

If passive treatment plant LIFE ETAD had been carried out without taking any measures for the conservation of this species, there would have been a direct effect to the specimens present in the plot.

Therefore, we proceeded to request special authorization for transplantation of Erica andevalensis feet to the Provincial Delegation of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment in Huelva, a request that was approved with a series of conditions.

These conditions included that the transplant operation should have been performed with machinery that would allow extracting large volumes of soil with the roots, to ensure high rates of survival, and that plants should be taken to the target areas which met suitable environmental conditions for this species, in particular as regards the concentration of metals and acidity of the substrate (in this regard was accepted by the Administration proposed area referred as "reception area").

Works began after obtain this administrative authorization and ended in April of this year.

A continuación, se muestra un pequeño reportaje fotográfico con las actuaciones realizadas.

Next, a small photo report of the actions is shown.

Extracción con retroexcavadora de pie de Erica andevalensis.


Planting holes.


Post-planting maintenance.

Final appearance.


(1) Izco J., Amigo J., Ramil-Rego P., Díaz R. y Sánchez L.M. 2006. Brezales: biodiversidad, usos y conservación. Recursos Rurais (2006) nº 2 : 5-24.

(2) Santa-Bárbara-Carrascosa, C. y Valdés-Castrillón, B. 2008. Guía de la flora y vegetación del Andévalo: faja pirítica España-Portugal. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Dirección General de Planificación e Información Ambiental, Dirección General de Gestión del Medio Natural, Junta de Andalucía. Sevilla (España). Páginas 224-225.

(3) Blanca, G., Cabezudo, B., Hernández-Bermejo, J.E., Herrera, C.M., Molero-Mesa, J., Muñoz, J. y Valdés, B. 1999. Libro Rojo de la Flora Silvestre Amenazada de Andalucía. Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, Sevilla (España). Páginas 119-122.

(4) Consejería de Medio Ambiente. 2006. Inventario de Humedales de Andalucía (I.H.A.).

(5) Capelo, J., Bingre, P., Arsénio, P., Espírito Santo, M.D., 1998. Uma ericácea nova para a flora portuguesa. Silva Lusitana, 6 (1), p. 119. Lisboa, Portugal.

(6) Marquéz, B., Hidalgo, P.J., Heras, Mª.A., Velasco, R. Córdoba, F. 2005. Erica andevalensis: un brezo endémico y en peligro de extinción de la zona minera de Huelva. Jornadas Técnicas de Ciencias Ambientales, p. 17.

Prueba de mapa de imágenes sacyr uhu uhu

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