Marjal dels Moros

An extraordinarily valuable wetland located between the towns of Puçol and Sagunto, and one of the most important areas for waterbird in the province of Valencia

The wetland used to cover the whole area between Albufera and Canet de Berenguer, further along the coast. Its destruction started with the cultivation of rice. Later, due to the drop in crop prices, the land was gradually sold for the construction of seaside holiday homes, which completely destroyed the wetland and broke it up into smaller areas; of these only the wetland of Rafalell and Vistabella remains, located in Massamagrell and the Valencian foothills of Rafalell and Vistabella.



Near Sagunto the wetland was also destroyed, in this case as a possible area for expanding the Altos Hornos del Mediterráneo (steel company).  In 1995 the steelworks closed and the Regional Government of Valencia bought this industrial estate covering about 800 hectares; about 300 hectares were defined as a wetland and catalogued as special protected land which cannot be developed. In 1996 it was declared a Special Bird Protection Area.

The remaining 500 hectares were declared Urban Land for industrial purposes, where Sagunto’s industrial estate is being built, just next to the wetland.

The town halls of Puçol and Sagunto have put in place a bird protection system, as well as infrastructures for bird watching and to protect it from rising sea waters, to ensure salty sea water does not enter the wetland. In recent years dry lands have been recovered with the creation of new ponds and the demolition of the last buildings remaining in the wetland. Hunting and fishing are forbidden, and the only activity allowed within the protected area is livestock farming in some designated areas of the same. These combined measures have made it possible to preserve the natural value of the area, despite the expansion of Sagunto’s industrial estate, which leaves the wetland literally fenced in between the industrial estate and Puçol’s seaside buildings.



Despite its small size and the many threats it faces, La Marjal dels Moros is home to some large bird populations of several species, including seriously endangered species.

One of the highlights in springtime are the flocks of different types of wading birds that come here to breed, including colonies of common terns, little terns, pratincoles and stilts; we should also note the colony of whiskered tern, which is the most representative species of this protected nature area. Among the duck species, there is a large breeding population of red-crested pochard, which is increasingly rare in Valencia. The marbled duck is another endangered species that breeds here, and the Marjal marks its northernmost location in Europe. In wintertime we can see large flocks of little egret and northern shoveller, as well as spectacular gatherings of large cormorants, and it is not uncommon to see pink flamingos, great white egret or glossy ibis.




In La Marjal we also find a great number of local fish species, such as the samaruc and the fartet, typical of this wetland, where we can also find some reptiles and amphibians, such as salamanders and cullerots.



The predominant types of vegetation are carrizo phragmittes communis and enea typha dominguensis. There is salt marsh vegetation including species like salicornia, arthrocnemum and limonium, among others. The wetland contains several species of rushes and reeds. The water vegetation is very poor, and is practically limited to a few species of chara algae.

The Marjal is currently in grave danger due to Sagunto’s Industrial Estate, the regasification plant and power station of Sagunto, rising sea levels (the wetland is a bare 10 metres from the shore), poaching and the destruction of cane and reed areas for cultivation.











More information

La Marjal del Moro

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