Protected Natural Areas are land or sea geographical areas dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and associated natural and cultural resources. They are legally managed and managed in order to achieve specific conservation objectives.
What requirements does an area have to meet to be considered within Protected Natural Areas?
The requirements that must be met are imposed by Law 42/07 of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity. According to this law, those areas of the national territory that:
- Contain representative, singular, fragile, threatened natural systems or elements.
- Contain elements of special ecological, scientific, landscape, geological or educational interest.
- Are especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, geodiversity and associated natural and cultural resources.
What types exist?
Depending on the assets and values to be protected and the management objectives to be met, the Protected Natural Areas are classified into five categories at the state level. However, since most of the autonomous communities have developed their own legislation, there are currently more than 40 different denominations to designate them. At the state level, the classification would be:
- Natural Parks and Rural Parks
- Integral Natural Reserves and Special Natural Reserves
- Natural monuments
- Protected Landscapes
- Sites of Scientific Interest
The importance of Protected Natural Spaces
What is the difference between a natural park and a national park?
The so-called National Parks and Natural Parks are usually very similar areas and, sometimes, you can talk about parks that have both recognitions. So how do they differ?
What is a National Park?
It is associated with a geographical area that, due to its particular richness of flora and fauna, is protected in a special way to improve its conservation. This protection refers to certain limitations, such as that activities that would be harmful to the environment cannot be developed. Or that the number of visitors is limited. Or that hunting is prohibited or at least regulated.
Likewise, National Parks, beyond the environmental value they have, also have a marked value of scientific interest. This refers to the presence of native species of that area. And endemic species that are not in other places, so they require special attention.
As the name implies, National Parks are characterized by the fact that management is usually state.
What is a Natural Park?
These are spaces that, due to their particular ecosystem of flora and fauna, must receive a special treatment that protects said space. In this sense, the same protection measures mentioned for National Parks are considered, or at least very similar.
However, Natural Parks do not usually have a presence of native species so marked. Consequently, despite being spaces of great natural wealth, they are not as important from a scientific point of view. And, for that reason the requirements regarding its conservation and protection are less strict.
Another of the differentiating factors is that natural parks are normally managed by local or regional governments.
The importance of Protected Natural Areas: National Parks of Spain
There are a total of 10:
- Picos de Europa
- Atlantic Islands of Galicia
- Ordesa and Monte Perdido
- Sierra de Guadarrama
- Daimiel tables
- Sierra Nevada