Cuenca Alta del Río Manzanares

Cuenca Alta del Río Manzanares Biosphere Reserve includes a Regional Park in midland and highland mountain areas dominated by Mediterranean forests of evergreen oak (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota), ash groves (Fraxinus angustifolia), ‘dehesas’ or forested grasslands, mainly re-afforestated pine forests (Pinus pinaster, P. pinea, P. sylvestris, P. nigra, P. uncinata), and grasslands.


Declaration Date: 1992
Surface Area: 47,500 ha (core: 39 per cent; buffer: 61 percent)
Administrative Division: 16 Municipalities have theirterritory in the Biosphere Reserve  

Human Activities

Traditional open-range livestock-raising continues to be the main land use, together with leisure and tourist activities derived from the proximity of the Biosphere Reserve to the city of Madrid.

Ecological Characteristics

The Biosphere Reserve is located on medium altitude and high altitude mountains with valleys and rocky areas on granite and gneiss.

The “Pedriza de Manzanares” is to be noted, a spectacular geological landscape, dominated by strongly eroded granite formations of enormous capriciously shaped blocks known as “berruecos”, with a Mediterranean vegetation of aromatic plants such as thyme, lavender, Spanish lavender, rosemary and Cistus or Rockroses.

Among the tree formations are Oak and Ash groves, juniper and pine groves and, at higher altitudes, Cytisusoro mediterraneus scrubland.

All this reflects a continental Mediterranean climate, with a mean annual rainfall between 450 mm in the lower areas and 2,000 at higher altitudes.

Among the fauna, Iberian endemic species are to befound such as the Marbled Newt and the Iberian Frog. The Santillana Dam, which has been declared an Internationally Important Wetland is a wintering place for aquatic birds, such as winter populations of Black-headed Gullsand summer Stork colonies.

Protection Classifications

  • Regional Park
  • Specially Protected Bird Area (SPBA)
  • Internationally Important Wetland Area (RamsarConvention)

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                                                                                                   Last update: April 2014

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