Babia

©Patricia Gutiérrez
Babia Biosphere Reserve

Babia Biosphere Reserve is located in the Castilla y León Autonomous Region of Northern Spain, including the municipalities of Cabrillanes and San Emiliano that form the region of Babia. It is an additional component of the future multi-unit Gran Cantabrica Biosphere Reserve extending across the Cantabrica Mountains.

Designation date: 2004
Administrative authorities: Consorcio para la Gestión y Administración de la RB Babia
Surface area:  38,045.12 ha
Core area(s):  5.903,62 ha
Buffer zone(s):  25.285,38 ha
Transition area(s):  6.856,12 ha

Location
Latitude:
42º53’17.27’’N – 43º4’37.49’’N
Longitude: 5º53’9.07’’W – 6º15’28.71’’W
Midpoint: 42º5’1.05’’ N - 6º58’48.37’’ W

Ecological Characteristics

©Patricia Gutiérrez
Tor las verdes

The Babia region is a mountain ecosystem where conservation of natural resources and their use have been excellently combined. The Reserve is delimited by two highand rugged mountain ranges, with crests above 2,000 min most of its area, lying in an East-West direction and the wide flat valley of the rivers Luna and Sil in betweenthem, at 1,300 to 1,100 m above sea level.

Through extensive stock-raising, over the centuries human activities have modelled the outstanding landscape handed down tous. There are woody formations (Beech, Birch, Oak) pointing to the existence of a tree cover that once covered most of the territory, and meadows and grasslands growing on the previous tree-covered territories, which have enabled the present human communities to subsist, basing their economy on stock-raising.

Interspersed between abundant scrubland, are areas of abandoned grasslands thatare progressively recovered by the original forest and Alpine and sub Alpine formations (rocky outcrops, quarries, crags), where productive use is practically impossible.

The biological diversity of Babia is apparent in the quantity of interesting endemic species of flora and fauna to be found n the territory. It harbours unique species of fauna, among which mention can be made of the endangered Cantabrian Brown Bear, the Gray Partridge, and the Broom Hare, anendemic Cantabrian species. There are numerous birds, awide representation of various species of bats and very well conserved rivers that host a rich fish population. The flora is of undoubted interest, with numerous endemic Iberian species such as Saxífraga babiana and Centaure a janerissp babiana.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Patricia Gutiérrez

Babia biosphere reserve has a small population of approximately 1,600 inhabitants. Both in the past and at present, the main activity is animal husbandry. A relevant number of inhabitants work in the mining sector and, to a lesser degree, in the service sector.

The area has a rich heritage and efforts are made to maintain the intangible heritage that runs most danger to disappear.


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