Isla de El Hierro

El Hierro is a volcanic island which is the youngest and smallest of the whole Canary Archipelago. Situated in the Macaronesian biogeographical region, the island's vegetation is composed of coastal matorral, thermophilous juniper forest, evergreen woodlands and pine forest, as well as marine and coastal habitats. El Hierro has a great biological diversity, not only at the ecosystem level, but also at the species level.


Declaration Date: 22 January 2000
Surface Area: 29,600 ha (28,700 ha terrestrial), (core: 4per cent; buffer: 54 per cent; transition 42 per cent)
Administrative Division: 2 Municipalities have their territoryin the Biosphere Reserve  

Human Activities

Agricultural and stock-raising uses and development of the tourist industry and services.

Ecological Characteristics

It is the most westerly and smallest island in the Canaries Archipelago.

It has abrupt landforms with steep slopes and most of its coastline comprises cliffs. The mountains reach a maximum altitude of 1,501 m. The climate is conditioned by its proximity to the tropics and influenced by the trade winds that combined with the altitude give riseto various climatic zones, with rainfall ranging from 150mm in the southern coastal areas to 750 mm in the northern divide.

The distribution of the main ecosystems is staggered: coastal scrubland with succulent plants including different kinds of Spurge, thermophile forests of Spanish Juniper, evergreen Laurel forests together with Myrtle and Tree Heath and finally, the Canaries Pinegrove.

There are numerous endemic species of flora and fauna, among the latter the Giant Hierro Lizard that was thought to be extinct. However, recently residual populations have been found that have enabled its rehabilitation. Other endangered species are the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon, the European Storm Petrel and Bulwer’s Petrel.

The wealth of marine life is exceptional and much visited by submarine divers from all over the world.

Protection Classifications

  • Protected Natural Reserve (2)
  • Special Natural Reserve
  • Marine Reserve
  • Specially Protected Bird Area (SPBA) (3)
  • Natural Monument
  • Rural Park
  • Protected Landscape (2)
  • Fifty-eight per cent of the territory is protected

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                                                                                                   Last update: April 2014

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