Specialist Nature Weeks

Birds,  Butterflies and Flowers

The Sierra Nevada has become the first National Park in Spain to be awarded  entry to the much coveted Green List of the IUCN.( the International Union for the Protection of Nature.)   

Although  many people may not have heard of it, the IUCN is a very significant player in these matters, and their views carry weight. In fact, the IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation,  with more than 1,200 government and NGO Members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries.   With the key word here being expert, for these guys are neither administrators nor jealous politicians,  but for the most part  exceptional, dispassionate scientists whose role is to describe the truth as they see it.

So it’s a fair old honour for the Sierra  Nevada to be given this acclaim, especially when you consider that not only is it for now the single site in Spain,  but one of only 23 internationally,  in an exclusive list stretching from Kenya to Korea to Columbia .

Fair recognition too, we think, for it is an area of immense beauty, astounding  biodiversity and with a powerful history to boot.  With more than 86 000 hectares of protected land it is by some margin the biggest National Park in Spain, and of course the highest, with peaks rising to over  11 400 feet.   Such is the height gain from practically the shores of the Mediterranean to the towering peaks  that it allows for various, distinct habitats which are home to more than 2100 plant species,  leading to the claim that as many as 80% of Europe’s endemic flowers are found within its borders.   There are also huge temperature swings through the year:  in the summer it is not uncommon for the thermometer to rise above 40C, whilst in the winter it can plunge to 20 below, so it is remarkable how various species have been able to adapt to such wildly fluctuating conditions, and to cope with drought and the challenge presented by 300 days of the most intense solar radiation.

So this award underlines what we’ve known all along, namely that it’s fabulous , that it’s fragile,  that it’s home to a myriad rare beasties, that it’s freely accessible, and most importantly perhaps,  that the powers-that-be are undeniably aware of all of  the above  and are offering  not only recognition but also the best protection that European environmental laws can currently provide. 

Come and see for yourselves.  Despite the restrictions placed on the hunters, road builders and developers, the rest of us can roam and explore freely on foot.   If you prefer to witness all this in the presence of an expert then we offer a week with wildlife expert Jorge Garzon.   Jorge, who has written  several official guides on the area including his latest book on the Birds of Prey of the Sierra Nevada, is an enthusiastic expert  for anyone from the amateur to advanced naturalist.  He is trained and experienced in the fields of ethnography, ornithological tourism, botany,  and landscape interpretation  and has set up innovative programmes  across much of Spain. Contact us for details, or email Nature Trek in the UK for more information.   https://www.naturetrek.co.uk/tours/spain-the-sierra-nevada-and-alhambra-palace

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