Forensic water governance? Analyzing land and water use changes in North-Western Doñana (Spain)


  • Manuel Bea Martínez Master in Environmental Management | GEOSYS S.L. & IE University
  • Elena Lopez-Gunn Master in Environmental Management | ICATALIST S.L. & IE University
  • Laura Vay del Cañoc Master in Environmental Management | IE University


Forensic science, remote sensing, GIS, legal use of water, intensive agriculture


The region of North-Western Doñana is a key recharge area for the Doñana marshlands,
one of the most important wetlands in Europe. In this region, the balance between a traditional
economy compatible with environmental conservation has been altered significantly as a result
of a disruptive change: the development of intensive agriculture of red berries –locally known
as the ‘red gold’-. The paper shows how a methodology based on remote sensing and GIS can
provide a practical tool to identify and quantify intensive crops and especially, to determine
their legal status. The paper describes this as an example of “geographic forensic science” for
water governance, understood as a systematic method to gather and examine information on
the territorial changes and events in the past with aim to use this information in law enforcement.
The analysis shows how geospatial techniques can become an accessible and powerful
tool for monitoring water abstractions and land use changes (public accountability), and to
raise public participation and transparency, three key principles to advance towards a ‘lighter
side’ of governance.


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How to Cite

Martínez, M. B. ., Lopez-Gunn, E. ., & Vay del Cañoc, L. . (2014). Forensic water governance? Analyzing land and water use changes in North-Western Doñana (Spain) . International Journal of Water Governance, 2(2-3), 133–152. Retrieved from

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