Chipiona is located in a strategic Ecological- point: on the Atlantic Coast, a few kilometres away from Doñana National Park and the mouth of the Guadalquivir River.
In the coastal areas, between Camaron and Tres Piedras beaches, we have an interesting dune cordon. These dunes works as “sand pantry” and ensuring sand for the beaches. In the longitudinal dunes we can find an interesting flora, with high adaptability to salinity.
At the same time, this vegetation is a refuge for migratory birds that cross the strait of Gibraltar looking for their winter home. Reptiles also find here a perfect habitat for survival: snakes, lizards, ocellated lizards, skinks, and common chameleon.
Chipiona became a pioneer in chamaleons protection, and here survive an important number of them. Townspeople respect and protect this ecological local emblem.
Its characteristics are: their color-changing ability to blend in with their surroundings, independent eye movement, the feeding mechanism, using its tongue to catch its prey (insects).
THE CHAMELEON” NATURE INTERPRETIVE CENTRE
The “Chameleon” Nature Interpretive Centre, is located in the area know as La Laguna, in Camaron street, by the wooden footbridge across the dunes, adapted for disabled people.
The “Chameleon” Nature Interpretive Centre will become an important place for chameleon study in particular, and for nature study in general.
It will consist in a three different building centre in old cottage stile, with walls and wooden and heather roof. The centre will offers: multipurpose room, lab, a thirty students-classroom, a conference room, men and ladies toilet, reception, exhibition room, terrarium and terrace.
COSTA BALLENA GREEN CORRIDOR
The Costa Ballena Corridor consists in a 1.20 kilometre foot and bike wooden bridge by the beachside.
This Corridor connects The “Chameleon” Nature Interpretive Centre with Costa Ballena residential area, crossing areas of ecological interest in the town.
This is a project that reconciles public and tourist use with the protection of the environment, connecting with the access to the beach to avoid trampling.
The corridor has two wooden bird observatories, offering protection against sun and rain, which allow the general public to enjoy nature.
THE "CORRALES" (To see more)
A fishing “Corral” is composed of an artificial wall of round contour, in the intertidal zone of a gently sloping beach, so at low tides leaves a large dry space.
The “Corrales” are an ancient fishing system, whose origin is attributed to Romans, although the oldest documents found relating to “Corrales” belongs to 14th Century.
The “Corrales” were built with big oyster stones (base and sides), and filled with smaller stones and gravel. Crustacean like oyster or limpets works as natural mortar which solidifies the walls. The water flows through several pipes, around 30-50 per Corral, which makes the seawater runs out on the ebb tide.
At low tide, ponds are formed naturally, each one known by a name related to its characteristics or situation (La Barreta, Los Hoyos, El Rincón, del Centro…). Ponds by the beach are sand-ponds. Those ponds at low tide stay empty.
In the deep end of the Corrales, ponds are divided into smaller parts (“piélagos”), to prevent fish passage. “Jarifes” (large stone which rests on three/four smaller stones where fish take refuge), are placed inside the ponds. Fish also hide inside “solapas” (Cleft in the rock).
Corrales are giant traps which work with tide. Effectiveness during sizigia is much greater, when more fish go inside and it is easier to collect them.
Fish pass over the wall in rising tide (certain type of fish, like bream, as soon as the water begins to cover the wall, swim inside lying on its side). In high tide, the wall could be almost two meters under the sea. When the tide is falling, many fish swim out the Corral, but others that miss the moment, are trapped inside.
The best fishing months are: from January to May (cuttlefish) and from May to October (fish), and after a storm.
A “Cataor” is the person responsible for maintaining the Corral, each one has its own “Cataor”, and he is the first person allowed to go in at low tide. The “Cataor” arrives when stones begin to appears, persuading other fishermen.
The “Cataor” uses for fishing: “cuchillo de marea” (a big kind of knife to hit the fish), “tarraya” (small round net with weights on the edges), fija (metal trident), “francajo” (trident with a wooden stick), an olive oil jar, to clarify water and a wicker bag called “seroncillo”.
Just behind the “Cataor”, others fishermen begins to fish, walking slowly, looking under rocks and clefts.
The pinewood is approximately 2.5 kilometres from the city centre and is composed of several areas like Majadales, Peritanda pinewood, Abulagar and Tábano.
Apart from the pines, other plant species in the Pinewood are Palmetto Plant (Chamaerops humilis), White “jaguarzo” (Halimium halimifolium), bushes, shrubs, like white broom (Retama monosperma) and mastic plant (Pistacia lentiscos).
The fauna is divided into mammals like rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), dormice (Eliomys quercinus), passerine birds like blackcap, warbler, other birds as pinzon, bunting and robins. Reptiles such as ocellated lizard (Lacerta lepida), ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris) and common chameleon (Chamaeleo Chamaeleon), which is listed as near threatened specie in Spain, but in Cadiz and Huelva is listened as vulnerable and very important to protect.
The Greenway is a footpath and cycleway constructed on the old rail way that passed through the town. The Greenway runs approximately 8.50 kilometres, within municipal boundaries.
Nowadays, the Greenway is ideal for walking, cycling and horse ridding from Jerez Road to Costa Ballena, with a special lane (1.70 metres wide, with wooden poles and compacted soil) to disabled people.
The greenway is perfectly signposted, prohibiting the entry of any motor vehicles. We find several posters informing people about fauna and flora in each point. All the signs, poles, picnic tables/chairs and litter bins are made from natural materials like wood, so it fits perfectly into its environment. The ecosystem is formed by passerines and raptors, and the arboreal stratum almost exclusively by pine