Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina

Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina

Fuentes Carrionas y Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina is a natural park in Castile and León, Spain.

Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
Laguna Fuentes Carrionas.JPG
The landscape of the park show the effects of glaciation in the last glacial period.
Location of the natural park within Castile and León
Area 78,360 ha
Visitors 21.179 (in 2007)
Governing body Junta de Castilla y Léon

The park was declared in 2000 and is one of a number of protected areas in the Cantabrian Mountains. The name of the park refers to the Fuentes Carrionas sub-range (source of the river Carrión) and to Fuente Cobre (the traditional source of the river Pisuerga). From an ecological point of view, most of the park is within the Atlantic biogeographical region, but it is on the edge of that region and 4% of the area is classed as Mediterranean.



In 2000 the natural park was designated a Special Protection Area for bird-life (reference number ES4140011) under the European Union's Birds Directive. It has been proposed as a Site of Community Importance, as it contains various species of European interest.[1] [2]


The natural park has been identified as a suitable location for the reintroduction of the Cantabrian Capercaillie, a bird which became extinct in the park at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Since 2010 the European Union's LIFE programme has supported a recovery plan for this subspecies across 16 SPAs.[3][4]


Invertebrates include the Kerry Slug.


The park is important as a habitat of the endangered Cantabrian brown bear. There is an interpretation centre for the bear at Verdeña, Cervera de Pisuerga.[5]

Cantabrian brown bears are normally described as being divided into two sub-populations, and the natural park lies within the range of the eastern sub-population, which is the smaller of the two. Habitat fragmentation is a serious threat to the bears' survival, and the eastern bears in particular are at risk from endogamy. However, in 2009 a study indicated that the bears have reversed the division of their range in Spain, and there is inter-breeding between the two sub-populations.[6] The LIFE Programme has supported conservation work to enhance wildlife corridors with the aim of encouraging a natural flow of bears between sub-populations.[7]

Conservation issues


A national hunting reserve, the Reserva Nacional de Caza de Fuentes Carrionas, was in existence prior to the designation of the natural park, and it now forms a regional hunting reserve within the park boundaries. With an area of 49, 471 ha the hunting reserve covers the greater part of the natural park. There is some controversy as to whether a management regime appropriate for game species such as wild boar or deer is compatible with the interests of protected species.

San Glorio Ski Resort

In 2004 a ski resort was proposed for the mountain pass of San Glorio which would directly impact the natural park. In 2006 the regional government relaxed the protection it had given the park in order to permit the development of a ski resort. The promotors of the project argued that it would help the local human population which, as in many Spanish rural areas, suffered from demographic decline in the twentieth century. Environmentalists have disputed the economics of the project as, according to official predictions, the duration of seasonal snow cover in the Cantabrian mountains was likely to be adversely affected by global warming. Environmentalists have also argued that a ski resort would be incompatible with the aim of promoting the recovery of the brown bear, given that bears would be likely to avoid such a facility and that their habitat would thus be fragmented.[8]

In March 2008, the High Court of Castilla y León ruled that the regional government’s sudden change in its own planning regulations, without a proper assessment, not only went against its own regional law, but both the national law on nature conservation and the European Natura 2000 regulations. The court also noted that climate change threatened the viability of the projected ski resort.[9] However, despite this setback, the regional government continued to support the development. As at July 2010 the regional government was planning to submit a revised proposal to the European Union in the hope that it would not conflict with the Habitats Directive.


  1. ^ Natura 2000 data set, European Environment Agency
  2. ^ (Spanish) Natura 2000 listing, Spanish Ministry of the Environment
  3. ^ Cantabrian Capercaillie Protection Scheme
  4. ^ (Spanish) Urogallo Cantábrico (LIFE+ Cantabrian Capercaillie website)
  5. ^ (Spanish) Fundación Oso Pardo, Official website of Brown Bear NGO
  6. ^ (Spanish) El oso cantábrico salta la autovía para reproducirse, Pedro Cáceres, El Mundo
  7. ^ LIFE+ Project Brown Bear Corridors, Fundación Oso Pardo
  8. ^ This view was supported by The Guardian newspaper in 2010, when it included San Glorio in a biodiversity campaign.[1]
  9. ^ (Spanish) Rafael Méndez (2008-04-02), La justicia veta una estación de esquí al ser inviable con el cambio de clima, El País. See also English version.

External links

[2], Large Herbivore Network

Coordinates: 42°56′N 4°35′W / 42.94°N 4.58°W / 42.94; -4.58

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