The Pego-Oliva Marsh Nature Reserve is located on the coast between the provinces of Valencia and Alicante, and covers a surface area of 1290 hectares. This marsh land was declared regional nature reserve in 1994. The marsh land is situated at the south of the gulf of Valencia and is one of the most important biodiversity areas of the Mediterranean coast. It is perhaps the most important wet zone of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. It is surrounded by the Mostalla, Migdia and Segària mountain ranges, forming a horseshoe shape open to the sea, in the centre of which lies the marsh. It is fed by the waters of the Bullent-Vedat rivers in the north and the Racons-Molinell rivers in the south and by the Mostalla and Segaria aquifers. A network of ancient irrigation ditches and canals transport water from underground sources through the marsh, which gushes from tributaries and springs known in the area as ullals.
Its great relevance has furthermore meant that this marsh is also included in the Ramsar Agreement (1971) for worldwide protection of wetlands, as well as being a zone for special protection for birds (ZEPA zone) and forming part of the European Economic Community's Natura 2000 Network.
How to arrive
- Road CV-715 from Oliva to Pego, taking the turnoff to Dénia by road CV-728.
- The N-332, taking the road CV-678, Les Deveses, crosses the Reserve from east to west.
- Road CV-700 Pego-El Verger, going round the Reserve at the southern end.
The closest exits from the AP-7 are the ones signposted for Oliva (nº 61) and Dénia (nº 62).
Flora and fauna
The Pego-Oliva marsh has an extensive swampy area in which there are successive parts of open water with islets of vegetation which constitute the main feeding and nesting zone for water fowl. Wetlands are the home of flora and vegetation characterised by the presence of some extremely fragile and rare underwater plant life. Many of the plants are genuine relics and are at present in a regression process threatening their survival. The alteration that they undergo has led to measures being taken to ensure their conservation. The marshland flora is determined, both by the biogeographical and physical characteristics of the territory and by the ones that existed in the past.
The vegetation is a result of the ecological conditions and human activity. Studying this allows one to learn the potential of the area and thus be able to implement appropriate territorial planning. The main flower asset of the nature reserve consists of the extensive meadows of submerged vegetation, known as macrophytes, which are the food for countless invertebrates, fish and the basic diet of coots and diving ducks. The most representative plant species of the Pego-Oliva marsh are: the reed, the giant reed, cattail, bulrush, yellow flag iris, white water lily, pondweed, duckweed, etc.
The water communities are enriched by the presence of thallophytes, bryophytes and floating water plants. In spite of its cosmopolitan distribution, the water lily is a difficult species to find since it requires a high quality of water. In the nature reserve this can be located in the higher areas of the Marsh.
Pego-Oliva Marsh nature reserve is of great importance as regards the fauna that this shelters. The disappearance of a great many of the wetlands of the Mediterranean shoreline over the last few centuries means that today the animals using these habitats are genuine rarities. The excellent condition of the marshland water means that there can be populations of invertebrates such as gambete prawns with a significant presence of the endemism Dugastella valentinaor the pechinots. As regards the fish we should stress the presence of the samaruc and of the threespined stickleback.
Amphibians are even more plentiful in the marshland, with significant presence of the common frog. The most characteristic reptiles are the European pond turtle and the Caspian turtle, as well as two species of water snake other snakes here being the Montpellier's snake, the ladder snake, and the horseshoe whip snake. Birds are well represented and constitute, apart from one of the greatest treasures of the marsh, one of the main reasons why this was accepted in the Ramsar Agreement and declared Zone of Special Protection for Birds (ZEPA).
There are also numerous species of birds, some important nesting varieties being the coot, common moorhen, the black-necked grebe, little grebe, purple heron and grey heron, marbled teal, black-winged stilt, whiskered tern, martinet, little bittern, squacco heron, great bittern, collared pratincole, and a long list of both wintering species and birds of passage. The marsh becomes very important at migration time, in both spring and autumn, as it is on the route for many western European birds on their way to Africa.
Rice growers used to be seriously affected by the adverse medium in which they worked (damp, mud, parasites and associated diseases) and their work was hardly ever valued and recognised. In the past it was not easy to transform a marsh into farmland, bearing in mind that they only had very rude and primitive tools and the power of animals and people.
High quality local varieties of rice such as bombón have been developed in the area apart from the extensive growth of the bomba variety. Armers have for some years now been developing experimental ecologically-grown types of rice of up to 17 varieties which may represent the future of these rice fields.
¡ATTENTION! From June 1st to September 30th, access to the Muntanyeta Verda viewpoint is restricted due to the reintroduction project of the osprey (sensitive fauna).
From the Natural Park of Marjal Pego-Oliva there are free guided tours for groups over 15 people, on notably aimed at school groups. This service is aimed at facilitating the interpretation of heritage among visitors of the countryside. In order to arrange a visit you must first contact by telephone with the park staff to arrange a date and type of activity.
Refuge Ecoburropark offers different types of excursion. Check prices and times. Tel. 696724923.
Waterfowl hunting is permitted on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, from October 12th to the second Sunday in February.
For safety and comfort, the most suitable area to visit at this time is the Muntanyeta Verda.
It is only possible to fish in the boundaries of the Bullent (from the Ullal del Salinar to the mouth of the sea) and Racons/Molinell (from source to the mouth of the sea) rivers, and Regalatxo channel.
For the practise of recreational fishing you must get, at least 24 hours in advance (on working days):
a) a license for river fishing, from the autonomous government: valid for one or three years; and
b) a temporary pass, from the Fishing Club of Pego (rental fishing place).
You must send a copy of valid ID to the Email: email@example.com (active tourism company TA-211-A) and pay the corresponding fee.