CABO DE GATA-NÍJAR GEOPARK (Spain)
The Cabo de Gata-Níjar Global Geopark is one of the few sub-desert areas in Europe and was the first marine and terrestrial protected area in Andalusia. The Geopark includes 50 km of rocky cliffs along the Mediterranean.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
The Geopark’s geodiversity derives from ancient Miocene volcanic substrata emplaced between 16 and 8 million years ago. In fact, the Geopark represents the most extensive and complex calco-alcaline fossil volcanism in the Iberian Peninsula. Visitors can walk through an open air geological museum with lava flows, volcanic domes, calderas, columnar joints, and fossilized sand beaches with tropical fossil reefs. This semi-arid climate and poor soil supports a surprising richness of plant species which ranks among the most diverse in Europe. More than 1,000 endemic plant species, hundreds of which are very small and live for only days or months, are found in the Geopark. There are also remarkable marine, steppe and salt marsh birds communities.
Because of the scarcity of fertile soil, ancient settlers devised a system of wind mills, water wheels, wells and cisterns for the extraction and storage of water. These structures represent a major milestone in the history and development of the landscape of the Geopark along with coastal defense towers and medieval mining settlements.
The rich natural and cultural heritage of the Geopark has been recognized with different international designations including the establishment of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a wetland preservation RAMSAR site.
The Geopark has established a visitor center, six information points and six view-points, 16 paths and five observatories for bird watching, a botanical garden, an exhibition and conference center, a maritime classroom and a naturalist classroom and center dedicated to geotourism. Diving in the Geopark is an unforgettable experience in the cleanest and most transparent waters in the Mediterranean, while watching sea urchins and starfish, sponges and molluscs, and a variety of fish.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States