Sierra Nevada

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

The Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain chain in the Iberian Peninsula with higher elevations found only in the Alps.

Declaration Date: 1986
Surface Area: 173,110.80 ha (Extension in 2012)
Core area(s): 85,883.40 ha
Buffer zone(s): 70,738.18 ha
Transition area(s): 16,489.20 ha
Administrative Division: 60 Municipalities have theirterritory in the Biosphere Reserve**

Human Activities

Mountain farming activities, with small orchards, sheep and goat-raising.

Winter tourism associated with the important skiing resort and summer tourism.

Ecological Characteristics

© Comité Español del Programa MAB

Alcabaza, Mulhacén and Veleta peaks, Sierra Nevada Biosphere Reserve, Spain

This Biosphere Reserve includes the inner mountain nucleus of the Cordillera Penibética mountain range which has the Spanish Peninsula’s highest peaks such as the Mulhacen peak at 3,482 m.

The steep mountain slopes area reflection of its past, modelled by glacial erosion. The dominating climate is continental Mediterranean, althoughit has strong variations in mean annual rainfall, ranging with altitude between 350 and 1,600 mm. The vegetation includes vast stretches of grasslands and highmountain scrubland, Pine, Juniper and deciduous and sclerophyllus forests.

But what confers an extraordinary value on the Sierra Nevada, in addition to its grandiosel andscapes, are the numerous unique and endemic species of flora found here, with over 1,700 different species recorded, 64 of which are endemic.

Mention should be made of Wormwood (Artemisia granatensis), Monkshood(Aconitum) and Stavesacre (Delphinium staphisagria).

There are also numerous endemic invertebrates and high mountain emblematic species, such as the Mountain Goat, the Wall-creeper (Tichodroma muraria) and the Royal Eagle.

Protection Classifications

Lastón, Sierra Nevada, Spain. © A. Miguelez

Lastón, Sierra Nevada, Spain. © A. Miguelez

  • National Park
  • Natural Park
  • Natural Monument
  • Internationally Important Wetland (Ramsar Convention) (2)


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                                                                                                   Last update: April 2014

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