Alto Bernesga

UNESCO. Comité Español del Programa MAB, 2006; Instituto Geográfico Nacional

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.

Declaration Date: 29 June 2005
Surface Area: 33,442 ha (core: 26 per cent; buffer: 44 percent; transition: 30 per cent)
Administrative Division: Two municipalities have theirterritories in the Biosphere Reserve*

Human Activities

Traditionally the local inhabitants were engaged in animal husbandry but presently there is a clear predomination of the mining and energy sectors, followed by trade, animal husbandry, ecological agriculture and services.

Ecological Characteristics

© Miguel Aguilar Barrera

Vega de Gordón, Alto Bernesga Biosphere Reserve, Spain

The wealth and biodiversity in the Alto Bernesga Biosphere Reserve is exceptional because of its bio geographic allocation in the transition areas between dry Spain and humid Spain; that is to say, between the Mediterranean region and the Euro-Siberian or Atlantic region.

The flora includes high mountain grasslands in the crags, rocks and passes; Oak-groves, acidophilous Oro-Cantabrian Beach trees, Euro-Siberian riparian forests of Willow and Poplar trees; with the presence of endemic plant formations such as the Sabina Albar forests and Oro-Cantabrian Oak-groves.

In terms of fauna, special mention should be made of the bird life, with some endangered species such as the Red Kite, the Egyptian Vulture, the Peregrine Hawk, and the Golden Eagle.

In addition to a diversity of flora and fauna, the Reserve is also of great paleontological value due to the Devonian seafloor fossil sites.

This wealth contributes to making Alto Bernesga very attractive to researchers and students from allover the world who visit these unique sites as there are only three similar ones and they are not as accessible.

Protection Classifications

  • Sites of Community Importance (SCI)
  • Sites of Biological Interest (SBI) (2)
  • Sites of Geological Interest (SGI)


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                                                                                                   Last update: April 2014

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