Declared the first Biosphere Reserve (MaB) by UNESCO in Spain (1977), Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park located in the north east of the province of Cádiz and in the north west of Málaga, at an altitude ranging from 250 to 1,654 metres above sea level. Grazalema natural park covers 53,411 hectares and it is one of the areas of greatest ecological importance in the South of the Peninsula, and therefore of great significance in Spain as a whole. It is a special protection area for birds. It has the highest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula, with an annual average of over 2,000 mm (it has the historical maximum precipitation in Spain of 4334 mm in 1963), and is the most important western massif of the Subbetica range. Its heavy rainfall and limestone terrain have created a limestone landscape rich in slopes, grottoes, caves and winding gorges.Besides the dense Mediterranean forest of holm oak, cork trees, pines and others species, the Park’s most emblematic element is the Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo Boiss.), mainly concentrated in the Sierra del Pinar Mountains. It is in the central part of the Natural Park, between the towns of Benamahoma, Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra. It is an important forest of Spanish firs (pinsapo), considered a relict species of the tertiary period (Linares et al. 2011). This species is a descendent of the central-European fir trees, which formed major forests here during the glacial periods. Nowadays, these Spanish fir trees can only be found here, in the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park and in the Sierra Bermeja Mountains (both in Málaga province). These pinsapo forests were severely damaged over the centuries through a variety of unsustainable practices such as overgrazing, logging and pollarding. Following the conservation measures implemented and the progressive abandonment of traditional uses in the late 1950s, the fragmented populations expanded and the scattered remaining stands became denser, which provides a range of locations varying widely in their land-use history and forest canopy structure. It has been the centre of intense ecology and dendrochronological research (Plan Recuperación del Pinsapo, CoMo-ReAdapt, TRANSHABITAT and several projects) undertaken at the Junta de Andalucía, University Pablo de Olavide and University of Jaen over the past 15 years. Also, a lot of diverse institutions are working on different research lines focused on Abies pinsapo forests (Univ. Córdoba, Univ. Sevilla, Univ. Málaga, Univ. Politécnica Madrid, CSIC) more click the image
FIELD VISIT (To register in the reception desk (10€))
Human presence in the area dates back to the Palaeolithic period and today, one of the main objectives in its management is to strike a balance between human activity and the natural environment, a regional history really interesting for Dendrochronologist (scientifics in general). The Spanish fir forest and other areas in the Biosphere Reserve can only be visited at certain times of the year, and visitor numbers are limited. However, TRACE 2015 participants will have this unique opportunity to visit the southernmost Abies species in Europe.
Initial eco-development experiments and other development initiatives have been carried out here. Through these guided tour, we will introduce some of the fir ecology, climatic change effects, the influence of logging on the Spanish fir woodlands and their current recovery. The coordinator of Abies pinsapo conservation plan (José L. Quintanilla), the Director of the Natural Park (María Peña Mora), the forest managers and several expert researchers will show us about it.
Schedule for Saturday 23 May 2015
8:30 Departure from UPO by bus
10:00 Arrival to Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema parking
10:30 Begin the field visit to “El Pinsapar” trail (entrance in the map below)
15:30-16:30 End of field visit in Benamahoma
16:30-17:00 Paella and local typical foods in Benamahoma (“Los llanos del Campo”)
19:00 Departure to Seville by bus
20:30 Arrival to UPO