River areas are undoubtedly among the most valuable territorial areas in Europe, not only in terms of their eco-landscape and use but also, culturally. However, there is currently a sharp reduction in the extension and increase of deterioration of riverbanks around the world. A substantial part of losses and deterioration are associated with the artificialization of the territories, derived mainly from a less than respectful urbanization around these landscapes. Urban and peri-urban riverbanks are landscapes in expansion due to the continuous growth of built-up spaces. Therefore, they should be areas of preferential consideration, especially in territories with a marked tendency to dryness, like the centre of the Iberian Peninsula. This article aims to contribute to our understanding of these spaces through the study of four distinct cases in the centre of the peninsula, in particular: the river Manzanares running through the city of Madrid, the river Tagus in Toledo and running through Talavera de la Reina, and the river Henares in Guadalajara. Three of the four urban water courses analyzed are zones of special interest for waterfowl: they sustain a winter population that varies between 745 and 1529 birds and they provide a home to some globally threatened species. The density of the riparian birds is also very high during winter, these values oscillating between a mean of 141.16 and 240.12 birds/10 ha. It should be noted that the diversity of this group of birds in the four regions studies is also high (H > 2.4 nats). The article also examines the interventions and the urban planning criteria applied to these urban and peri-urban river spaces, inferring the need to reassess urban planning in river areas to ensure it is compatible with their operation, values and possible uses.
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