Natural park (Spain)

Natural park (Spain)

In Spain, a natural park (Spanish: parque natural) is a natural space protected for its biology, geology, or landscape, with ecological, aesthetic, educational, or scientific value whose preservation merits preferential attention on the part of public administration. The regulation of the activities that may occur there attempts to assure its protection.[1] Natural parks focus their attention on the conservation and maintenance of flora, fauna, and terrain. Natural parks may be maritime or terrestrial and can be in the mountains, along the coasts, in the desert, or any other geographically defined space.

Islas Cíes in Pontevedra.

Spain distinguishes natural parks from national parks. The categories of protected areas in Spain under Law 4/1989 are not based on higher or lower levels of protection, but on functions and characteristics:

  • Parks: "natural areas, little transformed by human exploitation and occupation, that, for reason of the beauty of their landscapes, the representativeness of their ecosystems or their flora, fauna or geomorphological formations, possesses ecological, aesthetic, educational and scientific value, whose conservation merits preferential attention. A National Park is so designated because it is of national interest by reason of being representative of the natural heritage and that it includes some of the principal natural systems of Spain."[2]
  • Nature reserves: "natural spaces whose creation has as its end the protection of ecosystems, communities or biological elements that, because of their rarity, fragility, importance or singularity merit a special valuation."[3]
  • Natural monuments: "natural spaces or elements constituted basically by formations of notably singularity, rarity or beauty, that merit being the object of special protection."[4]
  • Protected Landscapes: "concrete places in the natural environment that, because of their aesthetic and cultural valuer, merit special protection."[5]

The largest protected space in Spain, and also its largest natural park, is the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park in the province of Jaén, at the headwaters of the Guadalquivir. 9.1 percent of the surface area of Spain is protected, including 42 percent of the Canary Islands, 21.51 percent of Catalonia and 18.92 percent of Andalusia, with lesser percentages in the other autonomous communities. Andalusia, being far larger than the Canary Islands or Catalonia, has 36 percent of the total protected areas in the country.[6]


This article incorporates information from the revision as of 12-21-2009 of the equivalent article on the Spanish Wikipedia.
  1. ^ "Ley 4/1989, de 27 de marzo, de conservación de los espacios naturales y de la flora y fauna silvestre.". Boletín Oficial del Estado (74): 8262–8269. 1989-03-28. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  2. ^ Excerpted from Ley 4/1989: "áreas naturales, poco transformadas por la explotación u ocupación humana que, en razón a la belleza de sus paisajes, la representatividad de sus ecosistemas o de su flora, de su fauna o de sus formaciones geomorfológicas, poseen unos valores ecológicos, estéticos, educativos y científicos cuya conservación merece atención preferente. Un Parque Nacional lo es por ser de interés nacional en razón de que sea representativo del patrimonio natural y de que incluya alguno de los principales sistemas naturales españoles."
  3. ^ Excerpted from Ley 4/1989: "espacios naturales cuya creación tiene como finalidad la protección de ecosistemas, comunidades o elementos biológicos que, por su rareza, fragilidad, importancia o singularidad merecen una valoración especial."
  4. ^ Excerpted from Ley 4/1989: "espacios o elementos de la naturaleza constituídos básicamente por formaciones de notoria singularidad, rareza o belleza, que merecen ser objeto de una protección especial."
  5. ^ Excerpted from Ley 4/1989: "lugares concretos del medio natural que, por sus valores estéticos y culturales, sean merecedores de una protección especial."
  6. ^ "El 9,1% del territorio español ya es espacio natural protegido, con 960 zonas que ocupan 4,6 millones de hectáreas" (in Spanish). Desarrollo Inteligente. 2005-03-10. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 

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