Seasonal freshwater, shallow and dense vegetation cover of wetlands in La Janda in conjuction with the nearby Barbate River tidal marshes formed a set of rich and varied ecosystems.
Its ecological interest is heightened by its strategic location: south of Spain, in the southern part of Europe and very close to the African continent, thus becoming a transit and forced break from the hundreds of thousands of birds each year make their migratory flights across the Strait Gibraltar.
In that distant and mythical Janda, in addition to actually migratory and resident birds, were present as breeders species like the Common crane (Grus grus), Crested Coot (Fulica cristata), bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti), Great bustard (Otis tarda), Marsh owl (Asio capensis) or the Andalusian buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus), currently very scarce or disappeared as breeders in the Iberian peinsula.
The importance of this wetland for birds was collected on different testimonies throughout history. The oldest are the paleolithic cave paintings found in numerous shelters and natural caves in the mountains surrounding La Janda which are recognizable representations of cranes, flamingos, bustards, geese, swans and avocets plus a range of other animals and human figures. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries numerous writers and travelers like Ponz, Agustin Orozco, Irby, Chapman, Buck and Verner captured in their writings the ornithological interest of these wetlands.
Today the area still has a great fondness for birds serving their rice fields and channels instead of breeding, wintering, feeding and resting on their migratory journeys for thousands of wetland birds, while the plains and hills that surround them are home ideal for large raptors and steppe birds.
The ornithological importance of this area is so widely recognized. BirLife International has included La janda in its list of Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Spain (Area No. 257). Despite this international recognition and threats that endanger the future of the wetlands today La Janda lack of legal protection.