|Biosphere Reserve Information|
ALTO DE BERNESGA
Alto Bernesga 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. Alto Bernesga is situated in the León Province in northern Spain. Its northern limit is a rocky territory of steep slopes and summits with altitudes between 1,100 and 2,189 masl. The Bernesga River is the main river and the most important affluents are the Rodiezmo and Casares Rivers, that give rise to two great cross-sectional valleys with numerous streams and rich floristic diversity. The core area is composed of five areas: Casomera, Chagos, Aralla-Cabornera, Valle del Río Casares and Bernesga. It includes the high rocky massive in the north, rocky areas that host endemic species of flora of the Cordillera Cantábrica and important populations of the Cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra parva) and birds of prey such as the golden eagle (Aquila crysaetos). There are beech and birch forests, and oak woods that are protected in the many valleys of the Bernesga River and that provide habitats for species such as the wolf (Canis lupus signatus), bear (Ursus arctos) and capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). The streams host species of fauna such as the otter (Lutra lutra) and the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus), and in the lower matorral formations the broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi) finds refuge. The core area also includes endemic forests such as Spanish juniper (Juniperus thurifera) woods. The buffer zone is the largest area and includes activities such as livestock raising and high mountain pastoralism practised in areas denominated brañas. In the brañas there are ancient shelters of great cultural value and a traditional system of pastoralism that favours the maintenance of these pasture lands. The area includes paleontological deposits that represent one of the most important values to conserve in Alto Bernesga, and endemic holm oak (Quercus ilex rotundifolia) growing on limestone. The natural resources of Alto Bernesga have been damaged by the extractive activities of quarries and coal mines, but the abundance of natural values as well as the abandonment of many mines mitigates the impact of the mining activities and have allowed for the conservation of important natural resources. The transition area surrounds all the population centres of the municipalities of Villamanín and Pola de Gordón as well as industrial and extractive activities.
The management of the natural resources and human activities is the responsibility of the local administration, Ayuntamiento of La Pola de Gordón and of Villamanín, and of the Comunidad Autónoma of Castilla and León. The Biosphere Reserve promotes sustainable resource use and human activities in the buffer zone.
|Major ecosystem type||Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands|
|Major habitats & land cover types||Piornales and Matorral pastures with trees (Cytiso cantabrici-Genistetum obtusirameae in the higher areas, Cytiso cantabrici-Genistetum polygaliphyllae in the lower areas); Mountain pastures with or without trees: Eurosiberian orocantabrican pastures with Mediterranean influence (Festuco-Poetalia ligulatae), Eurosiberian cervunales (Nardenalia strictae); base rich pastures (Festuco-Brometea, Brometalia erecti); Low alkaline peat bogs; Oligotrophic Cantabrican beech forests (Luzulo heriquesii-Fageto sigmetum); Endemic forests with Juniperus sabina-thuriferae formations; Holm oak groves (Lithodoro diffusae-Quercetum rotundifoliae); riverine forests: Poplar willow formations (Populo nigrae-Salicetum neotrichae).|
42º45'14" to 43º03'46"N; 5º35'04" to 5º50'53"W
42º55’36"N; 5º40’28"W (Central point)
|Transition area(s) when given||10,041|
|Altitude (metres above sea level)||+1,100 to +2,189|
|Administrative authorities||D. Francisco Castañón González. Alcalde de La Pola de Gordón (Biosphere Reserve as a whole and core area). D. Oscar Gutiérrez Álvarez. Alcalde de Villamanín (buffer zone and transition area).|
|Last updated: 2/27/2007|