Canal Roya, located in the Aragon’s Pyrenees, on the border between France and Spain, is a beautiful valley of glacial origin, virtually unchanged and with landscape, geological, environmental, and even archaeological features of extraordinary value. The valley culminates in a cirque crowned by the summit of mount Anayet, (2,574 m). Unfortunately, this valley separates two large ski resorts located in adjacent valleys: Formigal and Astún.
This fight began years ago with the announcement of a project to link Formigal with Astún by means of a cable car over 4 km long. The gondolas would cross the entire valley with an intermediate station, and an interchange at the bottom. Infrastructure such as service tracks, bollards, and the interchange itself (by the way, located in an area with a high risk of avalanches) were required. The argument to justify the construction of the cable car was that a ski “macro-resort” would be created, a large ski ground that would contribute to the development of the area. The truth, however, was that the project was the result of speculative interests in the real estate business and unsustainable macro-tourist development, at the cost of a heavy impact on the valley. It would destroy one of the few almost wild high mountain spaces in the area. But the idea was also to finance the project with EU’s Next Generation funds earmarked for sustainable development projects, its priority requirement.
Fortunately, the massive mobilisation of people in Zaragoza, its repercussions in Spain and France, as well as the inconsistency of the project have forced the European Commission to reject said funds, which has led the local and regional authorities that promoted the project to give it up.
However, the new autonomous government emerged in the last elections seems to be resuming the project, seeking to finance it from other sources. The solution for the definitive protection of Canal Roya valley can only be the establishment of Anayet-Partacua Nature Park, already planned in 2006. The fight now involves demanding that the relevant authorities revive the old Plan de Ordenación de los Recursos Naturales, PORN (Natural Resources Management Plan) and that they immediately designate a Nature Park, including all the necessary legal acts.
As Mountain Wilderness España we have played a crucial role in these struggles by being the promoters of the “Manifiesto por la conservación de la Canal Roya: un derecho de las generaciones futuras, un deber de los ciudadanos de hoy” (Manifesto for the conservation of Canal Roya: a right for future generations, a duty for today’s citizens) signed by hundreds of environmental organisations and personalities and delivered to the relevant ministers in Spain, Aragon, as well as to the representative of the European Commission in Madrid. Together with the Plataforma en Defensa de las Montañas de Aragón, PDMA (Platform for the Defense of the Mountains of Aragon) we actively participated in the last massive mobilisation in Canal Roya.
Mountain Wilderness España