Main nature reserves in Spain

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Nature reserves are natural spaces protected under some regime that allows the conservation of nature and the species that these sites harbor. The regulations that protect nature reserves limit their commercial exploitation, the construction of structures and other issues that may modify their natural conditions.

In Spain, there are quite a few declared natural reserves. For this reason, in this Green Ecologist article, we will cite the main nature reserves in Spain and some important details about them.

Nature reserves in Spain

As we said, it is about natural spaces protected by Spanish legislation. These can be declared by the competent authorities when their flora or fauna has a special interest in conservation. In this way, the lands declared as a natural reserve are protected from phenomena such as deforestation or contamination of the territory. In addition, it is guaranteed that the resources present in these territories are protected, unlike what happens in places where there is no work on their conservation and their exploitation is not limited.

These spaces can be divided into two types of nature reserves:

  • Partial: They allow a certain compatibility between the conservation of values and the exploitation of certain natural resources.
  • Totals: The exploitation of natural resources is totally prohibited, except when the competent authorities decide to suppress or restrict it for scientific, research, educational or conservation purposes.

Nature reserves are also ecological reserves, since in them the ecology is protected. Depending on their legal and regulatory characteristics, nature reserves can also be biosphere reserves, natural parks or national parks. Find out more about this in this other article by Ecologist Verde on The importance of nature reserves and protected areas.

Next, we detail the main natural reserves in Spain.

Cabo de Gata - Nijar

Cabo de Gata - Níjar is a marine reserve that is created with the purpose of obtaining an exploitation of the fishing resources that is compatible with the recovery of the traditional fishing grounds in which it is found.

This reserve was declared in 1995 by the Andalusian Environment Agency within the municipality of Almería. It is characterized by having very crystalline waters inhabited by typically Mediterranean communities such as the meadows of Possidonia oceanica, which are endemic species, and others of Atlantic origin. In addition, there is a natural park in Cabo de Gata - Níjar.

Alboran Island

It's about a islet of volcanic origin located in the Mediterranean Sea, between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. The island belongs to the municipality of Almería and has about 71,200 m2 (7.12 ha) of volcanic rock and guano (sediments originating from bat and seabird droppings).

Alboran Island was also declared as Fishing reserve and Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA). In addition, in the year 1899, a new igneous rock called alboranite was discovered in it.

Sidrón Cave

It is a cave located in Asturias and is the largest cave of tertiary conglomerates. The cave serves as habitat for 5 species of Chiroptera (bats) and 2 endemic species of Coleoptera (beetles), but it is really important because it has been found cave paintings and neanderthals In very good condition.

These human remains have been carbon 14 dated at 49,000 years. Later, human remains of younger Neanderthals, bone and tooth remains have been found. From these samples, mitochondrial DNA (genetic material of mitochondria with great importance in the study of human history) have been sequenced. This has made it a international geological landmark, in addition to a nature reserve.

El Regajal - Sea of Ontígola

It is a natural reserve located in the Community of Madrid, specifically in the municipality of Aranjuez, declared as such in 1994 and which has an area of 629.21 ha. Within the reserve, highlights the Mar de Ontígola wetland, a reservoir of Renaissance origin that is completely naturalized, with great marsh vegetation as a refuge for numerous waterfowl, and the El Regajal farm, a Mediterranean-sub-desert mountain with great entomological diversity (insects), specifically one of the most important reserves of butterflies globally, ranked as the fifth international priority for Lepidoptera (butterflies).

Villaviciosa estuary

Natural estuary located in Asturias, specifically in the municipality of Villaviciosa. It has an area of 1,095 ha and flows into the Cantabrian Sea. It was declared a nature reserve in 1995 and is also a place of community interest (SCI) and Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

In addition, as a curious fact, the waters of this estuary have a very high salinity, due to the low contribution of fresh water from the streams, which influences the flora and fauna that develop there.

If you want to read more articles similar to Main nature reserves in Spain, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

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