A German consumer campaign calling for supermarkets to boycott berries grown near Spain’s Donana wetland has been signed by over 160,000 people.

The online petition via the campaign site ‘Campact’ outlines the volume of Spanish strawberries sold in Germany and calls on Edeka, Lidl, and other supermarkets to stop selling imported berries grown near the “endangered wildlife sanctuary” in southern Spain.

The campaign claims that the area the berries is grown in is contributing to climate change and illegal irrigation.

The province of Huelva, where the park is located, produces 98% of Spain’s red fruits and 30% of Europe’s. It is the world’s largest exporter of strawberries, according to Reuters.

Interfresa responds to campaign

The Spanish strawberry growers’ association ‘Interfresa’ said the campaign was “insidious and damaging to the strawberry and red fruit industry”.

The association issued a statement in response to the campaign:

“We appeal to the authorities and public administrations to act prudently and in the public interest. We demand that any comments be based on rigorous information and technical knowledge.”

Interfresa denied the use of water from illegal sources and stated that the campaign “accuses the sector of serious misconduct”.

“The berries produced in Huelva have national and international recognition and are guaranteed by the most demanding international certifications and protocols.

“The industry incorporates the most advanced techniques that guarantee the efficient use and saving of water, which has allowed this industry in recent years to become a reference for other countries,” Interfresa stated.

The Donana national park lies on a 2,700km² underground water reserve.

According to Reuters, scientists claim that the park is in “critical condition” with lagoons drying out and “biodiversity disappearing”.

Reducing the amount of water extracted is one of the main solutions for saving the wetland, according to these scientists. The regional government is planning to legalise irrigation around Donana.

At a recent debate in the Andalusian parliament in Seville, Spain, 70 votes were in favour of using water for farming on more land. 37 votes were against the proposal.