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Societies agree that one of the fundamental values is the protection of the environment. However, how can we carry it out? It is certainly not an easy task. Among the multitude of tools that we can use to protect nature we find the so-called ecological reserves or natural reserves, which are areas of special interest for conservation and which, therefore, enjoy greater protection measures against external agents.

Keep reading Green Ecologist if you want to know more in depth what is an ecological reserve.

What is an ecological reserve - simple definition

A ecological or natural reserve is a area of special interest for the environment. The criteria for declaring an area as protected are varied: they can address the geomorphology of the place (especially if it is unique), its biodiversity, that it harbors endangered species, that they provide some important ecosystem service …

On the other hand, ecological reserves enjoy diverse protection levels. In some of them the activity is totally restricted, while in others special permits are needed or only a certain activity is vetoed. There may also be activities that are banned at certain times of the year, as the fauna or flora are especially sensitive at those times.

For example, in the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Natural Park, bathing is prohibited, mainly due to the creams and lotions that we use to protect our skin, and camping, for various reasons (waste, noise, coexistence with fauna, etc. ). Additionally, in the breeding season of the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) certain climbing routes are prohibited, as they are too close to the nests. However, it is easy to navigate and there are even forestry areas nearby.

Furthermore, not all areas depend on the same managing bodies. The various administrations can decide on the protection of a specific area; thus, we find parks of supranational competence (in community Spain), national or by autonomous communities or regions. In general, the higher the body that guarantees this protection, the greater the importance of the ecosystem and the greater the measures taken to protect it. Some spaces are even declared as "World Heritage".

In Europe, the Natura 2000 Network which is a European ecological network of biodiversity conservation areas. It has Special Conservation Zones (ZEC) and Special Protection Zones for Birds (ZEPA). It has been operating since 1992 and since then it has done a great job in the conservation of the environment.

Importance of ecological or natural reserves

Ecological or natural reserves are an instrument of vital importance for the nature conservation. Without underestimating other tools, it is clear that protected areas suffer less environmental damage, even improving compared to the time when they were not protected.

Here are some examples so that you understand the importance of ecological reserves:

  • Recovery of the brown bear (Ursus arctos): the inclusion of various biosphere parks in the Brown Bear Recovery Plan, such as the Laciana Biosphere Reserve, has promoted the reproduction and recovery of this great mammal.
  • Amphibian recovery: Peñalara Natural Park has contributed significantly to the conservation of 7 endangered amphibians.

In addition to the conservation and recovery of fauna, an ecological reserve fulfills many other functions: preservation of ecosystems (not only its own, but also improving the surrounding ecosystems), preservation of natural resources, such as river beds or groundwater, improvement of ecosystem services, such as air quality, and economic use, especially tourism.

Learn more about the importance of flora and fauna conservation in this other post.

Natural or ecological reserves of the world

Next, we leave you some of the names of ecological or natural reserves most beautiful in the world:

  • Banff Natural Park (Canada).
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia).
  • Glacier National Park (Argentina).
  • Yellowstone National Park (USA).
  • Serengeti National Park (Tanzania).
  • Timanfaya National Park (Spain).
  • Galapagos Islands National Park (Ecuador).
  • Fiordland National Park (New Zealand).
  • Grand Canyon National Park (USA).
  • Mu Koh Similan National Park (Thailand).
  • Amboseli National Park (Kenya).
  • Iguazú Falls (Brazil).
  • Etosha National Park (Namibia).
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Australia).
  • Krka River National Park (Croatia).
  • Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal).
  • Vatnajökull National Park (Iceland).
  • Canaima National Park (Venezuela).
  • Svizzer Park (Switzerland).
  • Corcovado National Park (Costa Rica).
  • Komodo National Park (Indonesia).
  • Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park (Spain).
  • Kruger National Park (South Africa).
  • Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy).
  • Oulanka National Park (Finland).
  • Torres del Paine National Park (Chile).
  • Namib-Nauklunft National Park (Namibia).
  • Kalkalpen National Park (Austria).
  • Jostedalsbreen National Park (Norway).

Here you can learn more about What are National and Natural Parks and their differences.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is an ecological reserveWe recommend that you enter our Environmental Education category.

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