Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

Sampling of the ICRA in the gorges of the Guilleries to analyze the human impact

Thursday, 23 September 2021

The end of confinement meant an increase in visitors in many of the gorges of Catalonia. Many of these spaces were affected by an overcrowding of people, to the point of being forced to limit access and capacity.

Given this situation, the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA) has started a project with the aim of establishing a method that allows quantifying the impact of recreational activities on the different gorges of the Guilleries. This project, called the Guilleries Project, has been awarded the Guilleries 2020 research prize, awarded by the Water, Nature and Welfare Chair and has been developed this summer. The conclusions will be drawn in the following weeks.

ICRA professionals completed field sampling on July 22, 23 and 24. During those days, water and biofilm samples were collected from the entrance and exit of the 9 most frequented brooks in the area, as well as their main physical characteristics: flow, depth or size, among others. In addition to this, the attraction drivers of each Gorga have been analysed, in order to give an explanation of which are the most frequented spaces. In addition, the number of visitors was counted, in order to be able to relate it to the samples taken.

The project aims to be a methodological benchmark for characterizing the impact on water quality and fluvial biodiversity of the gorgs, relating the number of visitors to the impact, with the aim of being able to determine the load capacity of the gorgs, that is, the number of visitors who can enjoy the gorge without causing a severe impact on the biological communities that live there.