©Geres-Xures biosphere reserve
Geres-Xures Biosphere Reserve, Spain-Portugal

This transboundary biosphere reserve is located on the extreme west of the Iberian Peninsula. The hilly relief contains two major peaks: Nevosa, which climbs up 1,556 metres, and Fontefría, which reaches 1,559 metres. Successive mountain ranges include the Sierra del Xurés, Sierra do Quinxo and Santa Eufemia, which are encircled by tributaries of the River Limia. Other major rivers that traverse the biosphere reserve include the Vez, Homen and Cávado. The reserve’s natural landscape is divided into plains and inland valleys, the wide valley of the Lima River and steep slopes. In general, the hydrographic network spreads through narrow and deep valleys creating almost rectilinear trajectories.Designation Date: 2009 Administrative Authorities: Comisión de Acompañamiento del Parque Transfronteiriço Gerês-Xurês. Surface area (terrestrial): 259,496.00 ha Core area(s): 34,434.31 ha Buffer area(s): 89,564.91 ha Transition area(s): 135,496.78 ha Location Centre Point: 8°22' 40.053W – 42°13' 54.64416N

Ecological Characteristics

©Geres-Xures biosphere reserve
Geres Xures Biosphere Reserve, Spain-Portugal

The proposed reserve has a rich diversity in flora with 807 native and non-native taxa including a large number of Lusitanian and Iberian endemics. Endemic Lusitanian-Galician species include Armeria sampaioi and Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing corydalis), while records of Iberian endemics include 117 taxa, approximately 50% of which are limited to the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. There also exist several taxa of vascular plants whose distribution is closely linked to the territory of the biosphere reserve.

Among these are 23 species of vascular flora included on protection lists at European, national and regional level.

The Geres/Xures Biosphere Reserve is also home to Iris boissieri (Yellowbeard Iris), Veronica micrantha and Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s-broom). In addition, the proposed area has 317 taxa of bryophytes, comprising four taxa of hornworts, 227 taxa of mosses and 86 taxa of liverwort.

A total of 235 vertebrae species and 1,196 species of invertebrates have been recorded in the territory. Examples of common fauna species include Coronella girondica (Southern smooth snake), Bubo bubo (Eurasian eagle-owl) and Genetta genetta (Genet).

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Geres-Xures biosphere reserve
Geres Xures Biosphere Reserve, Spain-Portugal

There are 126,000 people living within the transboundary biosphere reserve. Traditionally, agriculture is the main economic activity, but today the economy is increasingly linked with the secondary sector, especially meat production. Main economic incomes derive from service sectors, in particular tourism.

From a geographical point of view, the area of the reserve can be divided into riparian and mountain areas. Riparian areas are located mainly in the densely populated transition zone. Mountain areas, which are found throughout the entire buffer zone, are less populated.

The main cultural and historic sites lie within rural Galicia. Numerous sacred sites have been recorded, such as the churches of Santa Comba de Bande and Santa Maria la Real. The former was declared a national monument in 1921 and is beautifully preserved. There have been no major modifications to its original design, which consists of a Greek cross inscribed in a rectangle (12 by 18 metres). The church of Santa Maria la Real embodies a very typical baroque façade of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Among the other architectural constructions of historic value are the castles of Lindoso and Montalegre, built during the reign of Alfonso III.

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                                                                                    Last update: January 2015

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