appointed to monitor the construction of the new bridge over the river Tejo and to recommend necessary measures to reduce the environmental impact on protected areas around the site. The commission includes representatives of environmental organizations, an unprecedented solution under Portuguese administrative law. Finally, the Institute for the Preservation of Nature took the first steps toward the creation of protected areas along the border sections of the international rivers Tejo and Douro, thus facilitating the creation of a green border between Portugal and Spain.
Mário João de Brito Fernandes
The Spanish Ministry of the Environment was established in May 1996, centralizing all the environmental functions that were previously dispersed in different institutions of the national administration. The new Ministry is structured in three main units: Secretaría de Estado de Aguas y Costas, Secretaría General de Medio Ambiente, and Subsecretraía de Medio Ambiente. Two Royal Decrees regarding the structure and functions of this new Ministry have been passed since its establishment. On 21 June, Royal Decree 1538/ 1996 listed the functions of the new Ministry concerning Conservation of Nature and Natural Parks, and on 12 July, Royal Decree 1720/ 1996 modified the former Consultative Council for the Environment.
On 21 March, the European Environmental Agency approved the Spanish proposal to be the seat of the Thematic Centre for the Soil. The main function of the Centre, which started its work in 1995, is to provide information on the state of the soil in the territories of the member states of the European Environmental Agency.
In July, the Spanish Government tabled a proposal to make Murcia the seat of the Secretariat of the Desertification Convention, in competition with Bonn, Germany, and Montreal, Canada. Of the three candidate countries concerned, Spain is the only state that suffers from erosion, a factor largely responsible for desertification.
On 13 September, the Spanish government approved inclusion of two new wetlands in the List of Wetlands of International Importance: the lagoon of