Malaga’s Sierra de las Nieves has been officially recognised as a national park, giving the nature reserve the highest environmental protection status awarded in Spain.
The Sierra de las Nieves National Park – situated northwest of the city of Malaga and located in the hills behind Marbella on Mount Torrecilla – was declared a National Park in January 2021 and formalised by the Spanish Government in May 2021.
The Sierra de las Nieves, formerly a natural park, covers more than 23,000 hectares, and is home to 65% of all silver fir forests on the Spanish mainland.
The silver fir, or silver pine, is a special species of the pine family that occurs in Europe. Although mainly in the Mediterranean area.
The Sierra de las Nieves is also known for its ancient, hard-to-find pinsapos (Spanish firs). Remainders from the Iberian Peninsula’s Ice Age, these pinsapos can only be found in three areas of southern Spain and in northern Morocco. The oldest of the pinsapos at the national park is the Pinsapo de las Escaleretas, said to be between 350-550 years old. At 26 metres high, the Pinsapo de las Escaleretas’s trunk has a diameter of five metres, while the perimeter of the crown covers about 200 square metres.
Sierra de las Nieves National Park park also includes an important representation of holm oaks, cork oaks, gall oaks, black pine forests, junipers and riverside forests. Apart from several endemic plant species, the nature park is also the habitat of golden and hawk eagles, native crayfish, martens, roe deer, goats and otters.
The district of the Sierra de las Nieves is bounded to the south by the western Costa del Sol, to the east by the Guadalhorce Valley, to the west by the Sierra of Ronda and to the north by the district of Guadalteba.
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 – mainly pine, fir, ash, chestnut, wild olive and oak trees, as well as juniper – and fauna, including mountain goat and muflon.
Spain now has a total of 16 protected national parks.
Images Source: Andalucia Tourist Board
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.