Os Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Cervantes, Navia y Becerrea

©Wikimedia Commons/Genus qp
Os Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Cervantes, Navia y Becerrea

Os Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Cervantes, Navia y Becerrea Biosphere Reserve is situated among the upper elevations of the Cantabrian Mountains in the north-west of Spain. Its isolated location limits many of the endemic flora and fauna species to the reserve. Additionally, the biosphere reserve is located between the Euro-Siberian and Mediterranean biogeographic regions, which leads to a highly complex biodiversity. Los Ancares forms part of the Eastern Sierras de Galicia, and its steep relief is surrounded by irregular valleys and rivers with strong currents such as Rio Navia. The town of Navia is found in the northern area of the reserve and adjoins the foothills of the Sierra de Ancares. These foothills have a fairly regular morphology with gently undulating hills. Finally, Mustallar (1,924 metres high), Penalonga (1,842 metres high) and Cursed Corno (1,847 metres high) are the highest peaks in the reserve.

Designation date: 2006
Administrative authorities: Diputación Provincial de Lugo; Instituto Lucense de Desarrollo Económico y Social.
Surface area (terrestrial): 53,864 ha
Core area(s): 14,424 ha
Buffer zone(s): 31,975 ha
Transition area(s): 7,465 ha

Longitude: 6°58’42’’W
Midpoint: 43°20'24"N – 6°23' 24"W

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Mario Modesto Mata
Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

The geographic isolation of the reserve caused by the complexity of orographic features results in a well-preserved natural environment, containing endangered fauna species such as Ursus arctos (Brown bear). Among the invertebrates a number of species of great importance have been recorded, for example, Lucanus cervus (Stag beetle) and Geomalacus maculosus (Kerry slug). Regarding amphibians and reptiles, a number of endemic species exist, such as Chioglosa lusitanica (Gold-striped salamander) or Lacerta monticola (Iberian rock lizard).

The different mountain levels host a variety of types of forests. Birch forests (Betula alba), for example, occupy the highest parts of the shady slopes ( 1,400 - 1,700  metres), while forests containing Pyrenean oak are found mainly on sunny slopes, between 500 - 1,000 metres. Quercus pyrenaica (Pyrenean oak), Betula alba (silver birch), and Corylus avellana (Common hazel) belong to the most common flora species found in Los Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Cervantes, Navia y Becerrea biosphere reserve.

Ilex aquifolium (Common holly tree) is of particular interest, since it rarely appears in the Cantabrian Mountains and the area of Galicia. The presence of this particular tree contributes to the survival of vulnerable species, such as Tetrao urogallus (Western capercaillie).


Socio-Economic Characteristcs

©Wikimedia Commons/FirkinCat
Rio Navia

There are 4,977 permanent residents in the biosphere reserve with up to 10,066 visitors vacationing during the summer. Due to present orographic barriers, the biosphere reserve is characterized by low population density. The nearest major towns are Lugo (45 kilometres away) and Ponferrada (70 kilometres).

The primary sector dominates the local economy, with other economic activities consisting of livestock and forestry. In recent decades, fishery has become increasingly popular, with the River Navia and its tributaries Rao and Ser containing an abundance of marketable fish.

The cultural value of the biosphere reserve is accentuated by tombs, dolmens, chapels and churches. For centuries, the Capilla del Pueblo has exercised an enormous social influence as the most prestigious location for marriages and other celebrations. In the nineteenth century, however, Napoleonic troops invaded Galicia diminishing the importance of the church.

The presence of megaliths in Navia de Suarna, as well as former Roman forts, underlines the area’s historical and archaeological significance. Examples include the Castillo de Doiras in Cervantes, built by the Count of Grajal de Campos, which is situated in a high and almost inaccessible area overlooking the River Cervantes and is renowned for its architecture. In addition, the area includes examples of folk architecture such as pallozas, considered the oldest inhabited buildings in all of Europe.

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