The Andalusian environment

Andalucía is framed by the dominant Mediterranean climate (excepting the Vega, fertile lowlands, of Granada), although not all of Andalucía has the same climate.

Rainfall diminishes from the west towards the east, the rainiest point of Andalucía being in the Sierra de Grazalema (2.138 mm annually) and the lowest rainfall in Europe (Cabo de Gata, 117 litres annually). The humid zones of Andalucía coincide with the highest points of the region (the three Sierras), above all especially the areas of the Serranía de Ronda and the Sierra de Grazalema. The semi-arid zones of Andalucía are found in the large part of the province of Almería and the Hoya of Guadix-Baza. The Guadalquivir valley represents the average rainfall.

The annual number of days of rain is around 75, dropping towards 50 in the driest areas. On the other hand, in large areas of western Andalucía there are sometimes more than 300 days of sun per year.

The average annual temperature is above 16 °C, although with geographical variations, ranging from 18.5 °C in Málaga to 15.1 °C in Baeza. The coldest month is January (6.4 °C average in Granada) and the hottest, August (28.5 °C on average in Écija). The Sierras of Granada and Jaén  are those that record the lowest temperatures of the whole of southern Spain. In January 2005 they reached -21º in Santiago de la Espada (Jáen) and -18°C in Pradollano (Granada).

The relief of Andalucía comprises three fundamental units:

Sierra Morena, the natural boundary between the Castilian plateau and Andalucía, of scant elevation: only the Sierra Madrona rises above 1.300 metres at its highest point (Bañuela). Amid this mountain system the Despeñaperros pass sticks out, and forms the natural frontier with Castile.

The mountain ranges of the Béticas (Penibética and Subbética) rise in parallel to the Meditteranean but are not aligned, leaving between them the ‘Surco Intrabético’, the intervening lowlands. The highest altitudes of Andalucía are found in the Sierra Nevada, at the south-east of Spain; it features some of the highest elevations in the Iberian Peninsula: the peak of Mulhacén (3478 m.) and of Veleta (3392 m.).

In the Guadalquivir valley we find the aforementioned systems; it is an almost totally flat landscape, open toward the Gulf of Cádiz at the south-east.

FLORA AND FAUNA

The proximity between the Andalucían coast and the north of African has favoured the exchange of flora and fauna between both regions. This is one of the reasons that Andalucía presents a biodiversity of such great richness. Of the 6,363 species of vertebrates identified in Spain, more than 400 inhabit this region. This figure makes Andalucía the Spanish region with the most varied range of fauna.

Among the most valued and protect species we encounter the Iberian lynx, the only place in the world to find this species, the same as the pinsapo, the star tree of Grazalema, which boasts the only forests of this species in the whole world. Similarly, one protected species which according to some thinking survives from prehistory, the common chameleon, can be seen in the woods of Cádiz Bay.

Common Chamaleon

Parque de los Alcornoques

Cádiz

Pinsapo

Parque Natural de Grazalema

Cádiz

Iberian Lynx

Parque Natural de Doñana

Huelva

NATURAL MONUMENTS

The nature of Andalucía is set among a privileged mountainscape for visiting fantastic natural spaces, individual monumental biota such as the great trees, or habitats closely connected to animal species in danger of extinction: cave systems, salt marshes, arboretums, summits and fertile lowlands.

Almería, La Muela (Vélez Blanco), la Isla de Terreros and Isla Negra (Pulpí), la Piedra Lobera (Vicar) and the Arrecife barrera de Posidóneas (Roquetas de Mar).

Cádiz, the Sima de Villaluenga (Villaluenga del Rosario), the Salto del Cabrero (Benaocaz), the Trómbolo de Trafalgar (Barbate) and the Corrales de Rota.

Córdoba, the Baños de Popea (Córdoba), the Soto de la Albolafia (Córdoba), La Tiñosa (Priego) and the Cueva de los Murciélagos (Zueros).

Granada, the Peña de Castril (Castril), the Cueva de las Ventanas and Cerro Piñar (Piñar), the Falla de Nigüelas (Nigüelas) and the Peñones de San Cristóbal.

Huelva, the Peña de Arias Montano (Alájar), the Corta Atalaya (Riotinto), the Sifón Sur de las Minas de Tharsis (Alosno), the Mirador de la Desembocadura del Guadiana (Ayamonte), the Acebuchales del Rocío (Almonte) and the Cuesta Maneli (Almonte).

Jaén, the Pinar de Cánovas (Jimena), the Cañada de los Tejos (Quesada), the Quejido del Amo (Valdepeñas de Jaén), the Organos (Santa Elena) and the Huellas de los Dinosaurios (Santisteban del Puerto).

Málaga, el Complejo Hundidero-Gato, el Nacimiento de Río Grande, el Pinsapo de las Escaleretas (Parauta), the Sima G.E.S.M. and the Tornillo del Torcal de Antequera.

Sevilla, the Cascadas del Huéznar (San Nicolás del Puerto), the Falla del Víar (El Pedroso), the Arenales y Pinales del Parroso (Villanueva del Río y Minas), the Chaparro de la Vega (Coripe) and the aforementioned Acebuchal de la Dehesa de Abajo (Puebla del Río).

Mediterranean Woods

In Spain there are  682 million holm oaks, 226 million beech trees, and 400.000 pinsapos. In the Sierra de Cazorla is found the most extensive woodland of oak, pinsapos and pines.

The Mediterranean wood, with the holm oak as its most significant symbol, dominates a total of 75 per cent of Spainás entire territory.

The Mediterrean woods occupy 45 per cent of the  forested landmass of the whole of Europe, and 45 per cent of these territories are defined as private land and possess their own characteristics and their ecosystems are of great ecological value. It is in these that the threats of erosion and desertification appear. In addition, these sustain the maintenance of the biodiversity. The Mediterranean wood is not competitive from an economic point of view, for which, without help, the income of the woodland proprietors would disappear and the zones suffer depopulation, the intervention by man in the woodlands would diminish and, without that, the Mediterranean wood system would reduce in size considerably.

THE HUMID ZONES

With spring a special period begins that is excellent for the observation of nature. Andalucía is one of the European territories where there is a concentration of special places perfect for the observation of birds. Their humid zones, such as the Doñana, the small lakes of Málaga, Almería, Jaén and Granada, are home in this season to a great variety of species.

The province of Málaga is very rich in spaces suited for birdwatching. Among its valleys there are small lakes, wetlands and the estuary of the Guadalhorce.

In the province of Córdoba there is the áendorreicoá (enclosed water system) complex of La Lantejuela, with an abundance of flamingos, mallards, pintails, waders, common shovellers and shelducks.

Granada has two areas suitable for birdwatching. These are the ponds of Suárez in Motril, and the small lakes of Padul.

In Jaén province, there are three of the largest zones for ornithology in Andalucía: the natural space of the Laguna Grande, Los Chinches and Laguna Honda, natural zones of the upper Guadalquivir.

In the province of Cádiz, near the natural park of Grazalema, you can observe the Malayan heron, Squacco heron or the white stork. Close to Espera and Arcos de la Frontera, as well as the Embalse (reservoir) of Bornos or the Parque Natural Bahía de Cádiz, near Conil de la Frontera.

Close to Cartaya in Huelva province is the best place for birdwatching in the whole of Europe. Along its entire littoral, from Ayamonte towards Cádiz, crossing El Rompido, there are numerous small lakes and lagoons that offer refuge to every type of aquatic bird, the most outstanding site, of course, being the National Park of Doñana.

To widen the information in the Andalucia web.

WIDGET GENERICO

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