Posted by: casaisabellaspainblog | October 14, 2011

Sierra de las nieves malaga fauna & flora

The natural park Sierra de las Nieves starts in the hills behind Marbella and stretches up to Ronda. The park  centres on Mount Torrecilla (1909m) and covers an area of 30km by 20km or 18,530 hectares Apart from a few villages, which form a rural mountain community, this isolated area is largely uninhabited, and has seen very little human influence or activity, such as agricultural cultivation. For this reason, it has an unusually rich variety of indigenous flora (pine, fir, ash, chestnut, wild olive and oak trees, as well as juniper) and fauna, including mountain goat and muflon. As the name suggests, the park is sometimes snow-covered in winter, and in 1995 it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Activities available including mountain climbing and horse-riding and of course plenty of stunning walking.


The animals found in the park are those typical of southern Spain. The park has one of the largest populations of mountain goat in Andalucia, together with the doe deer or corzo. Other species have been introduced, such as the muflon (Ovis musimon), the ancestor of our domestic sheep and another acorn-loving creature of the sierra. In the autumn the males fight it out with their large horns to determine who will father the next generation. There is a relatively high population of meloncillo, a kind of mongoose that is in danger of extinction in other parts of Andalucia and many wild boar. By day you can see the royal eagle, pelegrino falcons and much more bird life and in the  evening it is possible to hear the sound of the royal owl (Buho bubo).


With a relatively high level of rainfall and a reasonable altitude, there is a good coverage of vegetation and trees. The higher and wetter parts offer a range of trees and bushes of all colours, particularly in the autumn months. Greens and yellows, plus the reds of the maple trees contrast with the grey rocks. Areas near small brooks and springs are ideal for the ash, the chestnut tree or castaño  likes the moist areas and silica soil . Spring brings the time of the year to see the many different varieties of wild flowers . In the drier areas we find the region’s famous pine trees, Pinus pinaster aiton,  Pinus halepens and the Pino piñonero.. The pine forest constitutes 2000 hectares of the park. The carob tree or algarrobo  grows spontaneously all over the park. The common Quercus found all over the Mediterranean is found here too, in the form of the gall oak or quejigo  and the evergreen oak or encina .The wild olive tree or acebuche  is one of the species best adapted to this Mediterranean climate. Cork oak is also found in the park as the acorns are the staple diet of the black pigs whose cured ham – pata negra – is the local delicacy. The Spanish Fir, the juniper  and the enebro  are also common. In 1837,  the Swiss Botanist Edmond Boisser discovered a new species of tree: Abies Pinsapo, popularly known as the pinsapo pine or Spanish fir. The tree can grow up to 30m tall and live as long as 200 years. It has tiny needle-like leaves, which are extremely sharp and cylindrical in shape, and is found only in the southern mountains of Andalucia and in the north of Morocco, botanists discovered that the pinsapo had been around since the Tertiary geological time period – before the Ice Age!

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