The 15 National Parks in Spain
There are 10 Parks on the Iberian Peninsula and 5 divided over the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. More than 10 million people visit these parks every year.
The Canary Islands is an archipelago and Tenerife, which has a subtropical climate, the same as the other islands, is the biggest one of them. Its capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife was founded in May 1494. Because of its mild temperatures in the winter, it is a sought after holiday destination for people from Nordic countries. Many tourists sunbathing enjoy the sight of the snow-covered Teide mountain.
The Teide National Park
El Teide which is situated on the island of Tenerife is one of the most visited parks in Europe and also ranks high worldwide. This mountain is the highest mountain in Spain with its 3.718 meters. It is of volcanic origin and from the sea floor, it stands at 7500 meters. The last eruption happened in 1909.
The National Park has an area of18.900 hectares (47.000 acres) and was named World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. A big international astronomical observatory is located on its slopes. The similarity of the Teide to the Mars landscape has brought the scientist to test robotic vehicles in the area.
The Teide was considered a sacred mountain by the Guanches, the first aboriginal Berber inhabitants of the island. It is thought that they migrated there at around 1000BC. This park offers the visitor some breathtaking views, some good hikes and a big variety of Fauna and Flora.
Donana National Park
In Andalusia, there is the well-known Parque de Donana situated in the Huelva, Sevilla and Cadiz region. It is a labyrinth of land and water which shapes the marshes and beautiful lakes.
There is some 25 km of unspoiled beaches and the fossil dunes of Asperillo which can be up to 30 meters tall. Many different trees find their place in this park like the cork trees, ash, poplar, honeysuckle or stone pines.
Donana is one of the most protected natural areas of Europe as it is an important crossroad for migration birds routes between Africa and Europe. Mediterranean pinewoods and scrubland and vast salt marshes all this forms the ideal place for the birds to stop and have their babies.
Donana is surely the most biodiverse natural area in Europe It has some 300 species living here and some 130 come here to breed on a regular base.
The Iberian Lynx
One of the 37 species of mammals is the beautiful Iberian Lynx considered the world’s most endangered wild cat. At the moment there are some 170 animals living in 2 isolated reproductive populations in Andalusia.
Donana is also the habitat of the endangered Spanish Imperial Eagle, there are only 10 pairs that live here. Their lifespan is normally around 16 years but is known that some birds became more than 30 years old. Their wingspan of up to 2 meters makes them impressive indeed. They are legally protected in Spain and dangerous electricity towers have been modified. Recently 2 pairs of Imperial Eagles were reintroduced to Portugal.
A visit to this park is highly recommended and do not forget your binoculars. The park has some 100.000 protected hectares where many species find protection.
Illegal Wells, a danger for the Donana Park
There is a big problem which threatens Donana, more than 300 illegal wells will be shut down as their use is draining the wetlands dry. Even legal wells will be shut down as the situation is more than serious. Of course, this will not happen all at once, it forms part of a 15-year plan to recover the water levels of the aquifer but it will take between 30 to 60 years to completely recover from this overexploitation.
These were only 2 of the 15 beautiful national parks in Spain. Each one has its own charm and uniqueness, for sure worth a visit. There have been recent talks to make la Sierra de las Nieves – The mountain of the Snows into a National Park. Up until now, it has the status of a protected natural area.
To upgrade to become a National Park the protection and control of Fauna and Flora will be a lot better. From my home, I can see this mountain in the valley to the west. Let’s hope this decision will be taken by Madrid so more nature is taken care of and saved for future generations.
Photo Source: Free Great Pictures