‘Los Picos de Europe’ bear their name really well. When we are just starting to climb these rocky mountains, we are feeling dizzy. This feeling is strengthen with the huge valleys and lakes that these ‘colossus’ hold fiercely.
I first met them after overcoming my fear to fall, ravished by the heights and knocked by the sun on the path called the Senda del Cares (and rightly ‘la Garganta divina’ or ‘the divine throat’), walked on again and again by athletes, tourists, locals and other fearless bipeds.
These mountains do not know the feeling of ‘fear’ and they are looking at us in an entertaining way up here, perched on theirs heels made out with mountainside. We are walking on their territory and effortlessly we do understand it instantly. There is no need to demonstrate their extraordinary dexterity and for the semi-wild goats of this natural reserve, the slope is never too steep to enjoy a young shoot. We can see it looking at their round belly! Their inhabitants, called “las cabras”, are far away from starving. And there is a reason behind it! These mountains are part of Picos de Europa National Park, known as one of the richest in terms of environment, culture, aesthetic, scientific research and education.
In the heart of three provinces in the North of Spain (the Asturias, Castile and León and Cantabria), this unique landscape shelters an incredibly diverse fauna and flora. Classified as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve (in the context of the Man and Biosphere Program), this area is located in a temperate climate, with few of temperature contrasts. It allows the development of terrestrial, coastal and sea ecosystems. So, there are cliffs, dunes, salt waters, forests populated by beech, birches, holly and big oaks. Some of the oaks are up to 40-meter high. From 2300 meters, alpine bushland grow on chalky substrates, next to wide prairies with rivers. In order to protect a lot of endangered species and asturian flora, it has been granted the Natural reserve status in this area (European Ecological Network Natura 2000). There are, among other animals, the brown bear, iberian wolf and also the chamois, the otter, the eagle and the griffon vulture. We are helping harmonious integration of the local communities, the nature and the sustainable development by protecting theses natural areas. The effects move towards a better communication, an exchange of knowledge, a reduction of poverty, an improvement of human welfare, the respect of cultural values and the adaptation capacity of the society coping with numerous social and climate changes.
By : Camélia Guedah