Archive for November, 2009

Sierra Nevada selected for world climate change studies

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

The Sierra Nevada is one the most vulnerable sites in Europe to climate change  thanks to its position between the Europe and Africa, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and because of its mountainous nature, with huge changes in habitat in just a few kilometres. The Park’s Observatorio de Cambio Global (above photo) has now been  selected by Unesco as one of ten sites in the world for its climate change studies. Temperatures are expected to rise by 2 degrees in the next 40 years with a fall in rainfall if 10%, reducing significantly the amount of snow with serious affects on the ski industry, irrigtation and biodiversity. El País

The Sierra Nevada is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Europe. All five of Spain’s bioclimatic zones are present here from Mediterranean up to crioromediterraneo, supporting up to 2,100 plant species of the total of 7,000 recorded for Spain. The fact that the whole of the British Isles only support some 1,900 plants will give you some idea of why botanists get so excited about the place. More

See also (2004)

The unique plant communities of the high Sierra Nevada appear to be under threat from rising temperatures. According to the Andalucian government, a rise of 1.2ºC has been detected in the province of Granada over the last 20 years, which although not much in itself has been enough to endanger 65 endemic plants, most of which are only to be found in the highest altitudes of the range. Like its African and Andean counterparts, the pseudo-alpine habitat, known cumbersomely as crioromediterraneo in Spanish, is extremely sensitive to changing temperatures, and gradually plants are being forced ever higher in search of cold enough conditions. More

Invasive species in Mallorca

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

The biodiversity of Mallorca is threatened by invasive species. Exotic pets released by bored owners are a serious issue, including a breeding population of coatis in the Sierra de la Tramontana. El Mundo

More on the Mallorcan coatis here

Picos de Europa online

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

My friend Lisa who used to write the bear news on iberianature has finally brought on line her long-awaited Picos de Europa guide. This looks likely to become the English-language guide to those stunning mountains. There’s lots of interesting nature stuff on the web including Poison, Palencia and Picos and Return of the Lammergeier.

Contrasting attitudes towards bears

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Interesting long article on bears in El Pais contrasting the acceptance of bears in Asturias with the general opposition in the Pyrenees. Read

The Great Mountain Corridor

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


The Great Mountain Corridor is an idea to create a vast ecological corridor connecting the Cantabrian Mountains, the Pyrenees and the Alps, and possibly eventually, the Balkans, along which wolves, bears and other animals could roam relatively unhindered.

The GMC is a 1300-kilometre swathe of land connecting the Cantabrian mountains in Spain to the Italian Alps via the Pyrenees and Massif Central in France. It might even be extended into the Carpathian mountains of eastern Europe. “It’s not unrealistic to think that in 20 years there could be a good corridor between the Iberian Peninsula and the Balkans,” says Miquel Rafa of Obra Social Caixa Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, a charitable organisation that is promoting the project. Some of the land in the proposed corridor is already protected, and Rafa’s aim is to fill in the gaps. Over the past decade, his organisation has spent 8 million euro buying 80 square kilometres of land between the Cantabrians and the Pyrenees. He estimates that only another 80 square kilometres is needed to complete that part of the corridor. There are already success stories to report. Last year, a wolf from the Cantabrian mountains was spotted in the Pyrenees, not far from one of many packs that arrived there from the French Alps around 10 years ago – the first wolves in the Pyrenees since the 1930s. These packs made a hazardous crossing of the Rhone valley, parts of which are industrialised. It will be remarkable if groups from the Cantabrians and French Alps meet and breed in the Pyrenees, says Rafa, as the populations have been separated for over 800 years. To win local support, Rafa and colleagues have also provided shepherds with Pyrenean mountain dogs, a muscular breed that will defend livestock against wolves. More here from New Scientist article nabbed here “Megaconservation: Saving wildernesses on a giant scale”

See also Territori i Paisatge here

Villarina doing well

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Villarina the bear cub discovered by tourists in Somiedo and later returned to the wild is doing well a year later, having survived last year’s harsh winter without the experince gained from its mother. She is apparentlly healthy, fat and weighing some 50kg. More from Fapas

American Belted kingfisher in El Mar Menor

Friday, November 20th, 2009

It’s amazing the things which turn up: an American Belted kingfisher in the Mar Menor, Murcia. It was probably brought over by storms in the Atlantic. This is the first record for Spain and Southern Europe. Spotted and photo by Antonio Jesús Hernández. More from the most excellent

European mink recovering

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The European mink, the most endangered mammal in Europe after the Iberian lynx, appears to be recovering. There are now some 500 European mink in Spain divided between La Rioja, Castilla y Leon, Aragón, the Basque Country and Navarra. The animal was once common across Europe but was brought to the edge of extinction in the 1990s by the release of American mink which outcompetes it. A national strategy is aimed at eradicating the American mink in Northern Spain where the European mink should be present. Elimination of American mink from some rivers in Burgos and Álava is allowing the European mink to recover. El Mundo

More on mink on Iberianature

European mink photo: source Gobierno Vasco

Dehesa under threat

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The holm oak and with it that unique ecosystem the dehesa are under threat. An invasive fungi phytophthora from Australia is ravaging across the dehesa causing a disease known as sudden oak death, aided by a deadly cohort of drought, several insects and other fungi. There are currently some 500 foci but scientists believe the worst is yet to come and that the production of Iberian ham could be seriously affected, not to mention the biodiversity based around this habitat. Regeneration and the more sustainable use of the system are seen as the only remedies.

El País

No livestock killed by bears in Catalonia

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

The improved protection for shepherds and herders in Catalonia has meant for the third year running no livestock has been lost to bear attacks. Fapas