Somiedo

Somiedo comprises alpine ecosystems on the peaks (up to 2,100 meters above sea level) and high ridges of the Cantabrican range, as well as slopes covered by beech woods, green oak or Pyrenean oak, and swift flowing streams in the meadows lining the bottom of the U-shaped glacial valleys.

Declaration Date: 2000
Surface Area: 29,121 ha (core: 36 per cent; buffer: 60 percent; transition 4 per cent).
Administrative Division: the Municipality of Somiedo, gathering 38 population centres scattered throughout fourvalleys.  

Human Activities

Cattle-raising has specialized in anautochthonous race of cattle, the Asturian valley cattle orvaca roxa, which produces excellent quality meat.

The highland pastures have been shared for centuries with the transhumant flocks of sheep from Extremadura. Transhumance still takes place, with families coming from the low lands of Asturias, such as Belmonte and Salas, to the summer highland grazing areas.

These systems of pasture use have given origin to a rich ethnographic heritage with curious constructions such as the cabanas de teito de escoba, (broom-roofed huts) corros (circular huts), ol.leras (constructions made out of stone near springs along which the water ran, cooling the milk contained in the ol.las) and mills. Another interesting cultural element is the Royal Way of the Mesa or Camín Real, which joined Asturias with the Castilian plateau.

The service sector has undergone considerable development, particularly regarding hostelling, based on small rural tourist lodgings.

Ecological Characteristics

Somiedo is characterized by its abrupt landforms, with steep slopes ranging from 400 m in the extreme north to over 2,100 m for some of the peaks along the southern divide.

It belongs to the temperate humid climate domain. The transition between limestone and siliceous Asturias, the different lithology, the strong tectonic folding, and themodelling of fluvial, glacier and Karstic erosion have given rise to unique landscapes: glacial cirques, lacustrine complexes such as that of Saliencia, lakes such as the Valle Lake, vertical dips, folds, hanging terraces, ravines, etc.

The plant cover is also very diverse and unique, with over 1,200 taxa of vascular plants, approximately half the flora of Asturias and of the 73 trees and shrubs autochthonous to Asturias, 65 species are to be found in the Biosphere Reserve.

The meadows and grasslands cover a vast expanse of land as a result of human use of the territory. The deciduous Beech, Oak and Birch forests and diverse types of scrubland with Common Wire-weed, Heather, Erica, Gorseand Broom are note worthy.

The Somiedo area harboursone of the most important Cantabrian populations of Brown Bears, there are also stable reproductive families of Wolves; in the rocky areas the Chamois finds refuge, while the forests are home to Roe Deer and Red Deer.

Among the birds, mention should be made of the Royal Eagle, and the Egyptian Vulture as migratory species and unique species linked to Atlantic forests such as the Middle Spotted Woodpecker and the Western Capercaillie.

Protection Classifications

  • Natural Park
  • Specially Protected Bird Area (SPBA)
  • Site of Community Importance (SCI)


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                                                                                                   Last update: April 2014

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