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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Los Valles de Omaña y Luna Biosphere Reserve designated in 2005 is one of three new units of a large-scale Biosphere Reserve that will encompass the entire Gran Cantabrica mountain range. The project aims to provide an “umbrella” enabling coordination of land uses to ensure conservation of large rare mammals while favouring quality ecotourism and responsible industry.

The Region of Valles de Luna y Omaña is located in the north-west of the León Province in northern Spain, including the municipalities of Sena de Luna, Barrios de Luna, Soto y Amío, Murias de Paredes, Riello and Valdesamario. Altitudes of over 2,000 metres are reached in the south-west, in the mountainous complex of Sierra de la Cañada. Omaña is surrounded by mountain chains, which constitute the contact between the Cantabrian mountain range and the Montes de León. The region includes the Luna y Omaña Rivers that give rise to a succession of fertile valleys and narrow passages.

The Cantabrian Mountain range is an area of great environmental value, with particular landscapes and a rich and diverse fauna and flora. Omaña y Luna include many species of fauna, several of which have their southern distribution limit in the region, such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) which are species in serious danger of extinction in Spain. Other interesting species include Cantabrian endemic species such as the broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi) and Iberian endemic species such as the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenacius). The flora of the region includes many endemic Iberian species. There are unique birch forests and extensive areas of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) that are characteristic of this region. The recently described (2002) oak species Quercus orocantabrica can also be found here. Interesting riverine forests (alder groves, willow and poplar (Populus nigra) woods, combined with traditional agroecosystems exist in mosaic with high landscape and cultural values. These high natural values have determined that a large surface of the Valles de Luna y Omaña Biosphere Reserve is declared as a site of European importance, and as a Special Protection Area for birds within the Natura 2000 Network of the European Union.

The Region of Montes de Luna y Omaña includes 86 population centres. Past traditional economic activities include extensive livestock raising, subsistence agriculture and coal mining. These activities have shaped the landscape and the natural environment. The coal mining has stopped today and the livestock raising has diminished in the last decades, although it remains the main economic activity in the region. The aspiration is that the designation of the area as a Biosphere Reserve will improve the livestock raising economy and quality, and that sustainable tourism will be developed. The region has a rich architectural heritage and different representations of indigenous art. More than hundred religious buildings that, in their majority, belong to the baroque era are dispersed in the region.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Rocks and rocky systems related to riparian ecosystems (riparian forests: alder groves, ashes, poplar, willow woods with black poplar (Populus nigra)); Shrub systems (systems related to Eurosiberian orocantabrian deciduous forests (birch forests, oak (Quercus petraea and Quercus orocantabrica) groves and other arboreal formations; Pasture land including meadows; Matorral; Reforestation of coniferous forests; Humid areas; High forests and matorral, scrubland with Quercus pyrenaica); Rests of Mediterranean perennial sclerophyllous forests (systems related to old holm oak groves); Systems related to the vegetation of high-mountain forest; Vegetation of the low and medium altitude zones (rocks, temporarily flooded zones, low peat bogs, etc.); Towns and anthropological complexes.
  Location   42°99'92,51"N (Northern latitude)
42°70'28,58"N (Southern latitude)
6°31'12,82"W (Western longitude)
5°77'17,77"W (Eastern longitude)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   811,593
  Core area(s)   15754,1
  Buffer zone(s)   60041,5
  Transition area(s) when given   5363,7
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +953 to +2,163
  Year designated   2005
  Administrative authorities   Comunidad de Castilla y León; Aytos de Barrios de Luna, Sena de Luna, Soto y Amío, Murias de Paredes, Riello y Valdesamario

Last updated: 06/06/2006

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