Sierra de las Nieves becomes Spain’s sixteenth National Natural Park

by Lorraine Williamson
Sierra de las Nieves - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sierra_de_las_Nieves_(M%C3%A1laga),_pinares.jpg
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MALAGA – The Spanish government recognised the Sierra de las Nieves (Málaga) as an official natural park on Wednesday. This gives this nature reserve the highest environmental protection status awarded in Spain. 

With this recent recognition, Spain now has a total of 16 protected natural parks. The Sierra de las Nieves covers more than 23,000 hectares. Furthermore, it is home to 65% of all silver fir forests on the Spanish mainland. The silver fir, or silver pine, is a special species of the pine family that occurs in Europe. Although mainly in the Mediterranean area. 

Pinsapo de las Escaleretas 

The Pinsapo de las Escaleretas in the Sierra de las Nieves (municipality of Parauta) is the most Spanish special example. It is even recognised as a national monument. This spruce is between 350-550 years old, 26 metres high and its trunk has a diameter of five metres. The perimeter of the crown covers about 200 square metres. 

Apart from several endemic plant species, the nature park is also the habitat of golden and hawk eagles, native crayfish, martens, roe deer, goats and otters. Its surface extends over the municipalities of Benahavis, El Burgo, Istán, Monda, Parauta, Ronda, Tolox and Yunquera. 

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Impulse for the local economy 

These municipalities have already made plans for new facilities in the park. Mayor Mari Paz Fernández of Ronda has announced he wants to open a new visitor centre. Mayor José Joaquín García of El Burgo hopes the new status of the park will provide an impulse for new developments. And that they may counter the exodus in his municipality. 

Regional Minister Carmen Crespo of Agriculture also agrees the official protection status is good news for the park.  She also expects it to have a positive effect for economic and social developments in the area. Crespo applauds the recognition of the Sierra de las Nieves, because with it Andalucia now has three National Natural Parks. Not only that, but all three parks are essentially different from each other. 

The regional government of Andalucia expects that in the coming years the number of visitors to the park will increase tenfold from 55,000 to more than 500,000 visitors. 

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