4 Must See World Heritage Sites in Spain
From the Seashores to the rocky hill spread across the western hemisphere of Europe, Spain is known for its varied cultural heritage and sustainable development as an Eco-tourism destination. The kingdom of Spain exudes strong energy and fascinating history that is integrated with its incredible landscape. Travel is the true way to discover the soul of Spain. Fairytale forests, tropical islands, and volcano’s that create a ‘sea of clouds’ are just a few of the natural wonders that sustainable travelers can witness on their next viaje a Espana. For the full experience on UNESCO World Heritage Site experiences in Spain continue reading.
Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe
The “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe” are a transnational serial property comprising 94 component parts across 18 countries. They represent an outstanding example of relatively undisturbed, complex temperate forests and exhibit a wide spectrum of comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure and mixed stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions. During each glacial phase (ice ages) of the last 1 million years, European beech (Fagus sylvatica) survived the unfavourable climatic conditions in refuge areas in the southern parts of the European continent. These refuge areas have been documented by scientists through palaeoecological analysis and using the latest techniques in genetic coding. After the last Ice Age, around 11,000 years ago, beech started expanding its range from these southern refuge areas to eventually cover large parts of the European continent. During this expansion process, which is still ongoing, beech formed different types of plant communities while occupying largely different environments. The interplay between a diversity of environments, climatic gradients and different species gene pools has and continues to shape this high diversity of beech forest communities. These forests contain an invaluable population of old trees and a genetic reservoir of beech and many other species, which are associated with and dependent on these old-growth forest habitats.
Doñana National Park
Doñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the right bank of the Guadalquivir river at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It is notable for the great diversity of its biotopes, especially lagoons, marshlands, fixed and mobile dunes, scrub woodland and maquis. It is home to five threatened bird species. It is one of the largest heronries in the Mediterranean region and is the wintering site for more than 500,000 water fowl each year.
Garajonay National Park
Not far off the north-west coast of Africa lies the island of La Gomera, one of the seven islands that make up the Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic. These high, volcanic islands are the first to receive the rains arriving from the west, and have thus retained the remnants of a rich and luxuriant forest — the laurisilva or Laurel forest — on their windward peaks. Next to the Laurisilva of Madeira (Portugal), Garajonay National Park preserves an outstanding example of this unique vegetation, which remains almost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist. These forests are relict ecosystems, living remnants of the old rainforests and warm temperate forests that occupied much of Europe and North Africa during the Tertiary. Today, they are a refuge for an exceptional number of endemic species, which in many cases are also threatened.
The park covers some 11% of the island and is an important source of water for Gomera, with its network of permanently flowing streams, the best preserved in the Canary Islands. The forest hosts a great diversity of plant species, which are often surrounded by a sea of fog that gives the forest a magical aspect. These fogs are vital for the forest, producing the necessary moisture essential for the survival of this lavish green environment located within an otherwise arid island. The forest only survives thanks to the high humidity and mild temperatures, which fluctuate little during the year.
The forest is geographically unique, as remnants of this type of vegetation are only found in the Macaronesian Islands (the Canaries, Madeira and the Azores). This insular laurisilva is characterised by the evolution of a large number of endemic species of fauna and flora, which in some cases are threatened. Two relict and endemic species of birds, the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon and the Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon, are endemic to the Canaries. On La Gomera, they are largely restricted to the national park where, as their names suggest, they live in the Laurel forest. It is thought that between 40-60% of the invertebrate fauna is endemic.
Teide National Park
Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak on Spanish soil. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic structure and stands in a spectacular environment. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones in the landscape and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms a visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. Teide is of global importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.