The evolution of fluvial landscape at the confluence of the Jarama and Tagus rivers


Ana Belén Berrocal Menárguez

Jorge Bernabeu Lárena


This doctoral thesis shows an analysis of fluvial landscape evolution from multiple perspectives on the banks of Tagus and Jarama rivers, around Aranjuez. The thesis contemplates and combines natural features, such as hydrological, geomorphological and ecological features, as well as cultural features, like hydrological regulation and water management, interventions in channels and margins, changes in ownership and land use changes, mainly.

This analysis has allowed to identify the factors system, dynamic and complex, that this landscape has created, as well as the interrelationships, connections, constraints and dependencies among considered landscape descriptors. For example, we have studied the relationships observed among fluvial dynamics- land ownership -conservation status, issues not addressed, assessed or quantified up to now in other works about this area.

The research is organized into three major phases that led to the paper’s central chapters (Chapters 2, 3 and 4). First, there has been a characterization of the factors, both natural and cultural, that organize the landscape of this predominantly fluvial area (geomorphology, climate and hydrological factors, vegetation, land and cultural elements of landscape significance). Then, it was made to study of fluvial landscape evolution by analyzing various elements previously identified and characterized. Aerial images were processed for five series and several old maps, obtaining an extensive database, that has been analyzed statistically. Finally, we have contrasted the partial results obtained in the previous chapters, making it possible to identify causal relationships between the factors that organize the landscape and the evolution of the elements that constitute it.

This working method has been very useful for understanding the operation and evolution of a complex system, as the landscape of the Vega de Aranjuez, a territory with deep and ancient cultural interventions where anyway, nature feature always lies.

It is possible that the main contribution of this work, also its most prominent difference compared with other studies of landscape, has been to show a complete and exhaustive view of all factors involved in the formation and evolution of the fluvial landscape, highlighting the relationships established among them. This approach could have an interesting applied facet, so that is a very useful tool for designing management plans on this river territory. Not surprisingly, a substantial part of the valley of the Tagus-Jarama in Aranjuez is a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and their subsequent and inevitable declaration as Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of the Natura 2000 network, in accordance with the provisions Directive 92/43/EC, requires the development of a management plan that largely could draw on what was presented, analyzed and interpreted in this paper. In this regard, it should be noted conscience and assumed to consider, on the inclusiveness of territorial reality, the landscape as a key element for the proper management of nature and territory. On the other hand, it is considered that the results of this thesis allow to propose measures for enhancement of outstanding scenery, which go well beyond the boundaries that currently the Cultural Landscape declared by UNESCO. In sum, the analysis of this river area made with the depth and breadth that enables working method can be used to design strategies that address the evolution of this territory in a line that guarantees global conservation landscape terms, heritage and ecological, also, allowing its use as a balancing economic, cultural or educational resource.