Name of organisation
Environmental Studies Centre of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council.
Number of staff
Number of visitors per year
Overall aims of the centre
To develop a platform for the programming of educational, environmental communication and interpretation and leisure and recreational activities, aimed at creating a cultural framework favourable to the conservation of the environment and natural heritage.
To broaden and diversify the tourist offer of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
To contribute to the development of tourist information tasks and to the city's congress activity.
Description of the centre
Ataria is defined as a tool of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council for communication, education and public awareness in the field of biodiversity and natural heritage. Ataria occupies a two-storey building with a total usable area of 1,600 m2 and an annexed outdoor space. It has a permanent exhibition dedicated to the interpretation of wetlands; a permanent exhibition hall where exhibitions related to biodiversity and natural heritage are regularly programmed; a multifunctional hall where an audiovisual about the Salburua Park is projected and where talks, conferences, workshops, etc. are programmed; two classrooms in which to develop the programme of activities for schools and the general public; a cafeteria; and an outdoor space with a fauna observatory.
Through different museographic resources, Ataria develops the following interpretative discourse:
- The restoration of the Salburua ponds as part of the project to create the Green Belt has enabled the recovery of an important element of the natural heritage of the people of Vitoria.
- Water dynamics in the Vitoria Aquifer and in the wetland.
- The natural values of the Salburua Park.
- The functions and services of the wetlands.
Salburua Park is located on the wetland complex created by the outcrop of the Vitoria Aquifer. The progressive drainage of the area for agricultural use, as early as the mid-19th century, led to a significant reduction in its surface area.
Following the corresponding ecological restoration work, a sheet of water that is characterised by its seasonal regime has been maintained. This recovery of the wetland has in turn had repercussions on the restoration of the marshland plant and fauna communities in the wetland.
The Salburua wetlands are a complex of lagoons located in the municipality of Vitoria-Gasteiz (to the east of the city), in the Historical Territory of Alava. The area covers 216 hectares, at an altitude of 511 m above sea level. The Salburua wetlands are a magnificent example of an aquifer discharge system, playing a major hydrological role in the natural functioning of the area's groundwater.
The importance of these wetlands for migratory phenomena is also very high, as to date practically all the species expected at these latitudes have been observed, including some at serious risk of extinction such as the bittern (Botaurus stellaris).
Finally, the greater versatility of waterbirds when it comes to choosing wintering sites means that Salburua is less important in this period in the regional context. In spite of this, 3/4 of the waterfowl species that winter in Alava also do so in Salburua and numerically represent around 20% of the total provincial wintering contingent.
As far as endangered species are concerned, one species is considered a priority for conservation in Europe by the Ornis Committee: the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola). But it is undoubtedly among the mammal community that the priority species in the area is to be found: the European mink (Mustela lutreola). This is the most endangered vertebrate on a global scale of those that inhabit the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, and therefore the main conservation responsibility of Salburua, where a population of some 5-10 specimens survives.
Main CEPA work area
- Customer service, control and carrying out administrative and minor maintenance tasks during the centre's opening hours and in accordance with Ataria's opening calendar.
- Organisation of the activities of Ataria's open programme (aimed at other audiences): organisation, presentation, implementation, evaluation and continuous improvement of the activities planned in Ataria (courses, workshops, conferences, guided tours, etc.).
- Preparation of Environmental Education activities for schoolchildren based on the Teaching Units available. For this purpose, technical advice is provided by the Environmental Studies Centre (CEA), which must approve the proposed activities.
- Tasks of elaboration and design of different support and dissemination materials, such as new didactic contents for schools and the general public, leaflets and other informative materials, periodical publications...
- Dynamisation of the temporary exhibition hall.
- Adaptation of didactic materials: revision, correction, adaptation and complementation of the school didactic units of the Ataria programme so that from the beginning of the activities of each school year (mid-October), the units are ready for use. To this end, work is carried out in coordination with the technical team responsible for the CEA.
- Development of educational and informative materials: the team in charge of the programme carries out tasks of elaboration and design of different support and dissemination materials, such as new didactic contents for the general public, schools, brochures and other informative materials, periodical publications...
- Guided visits
Top three successes
Top three challenges
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools; Developing nature trails
Setting up a new visitor centre; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures
Working with disabled people; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Lobbying / running campaigns; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Project planning.
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