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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Babia Biosphere Reserve is located in the Castilla y Le髇 Autonomous Region of Northern Spain, including the municipalities of Cabrillanes and San Emiliano that form the region of Babia. It is an additional component of the future multi-unit Gran Cantabrica Biosphere Reserve extending across the Cantabrica Mountains. The northern limit of the region is the line of summits that separates the provinces of Le髇 and Asturia, with altitudes above 2,000 metres (Pe馻 Ubi馻, Alto Rosapero, Picos Blancos), while the southern limit is formed by a mountainous rim with the peak La Ca馻da at 2,154 m. The topography of the region is a result of the presence of these two high-altitude mountain chains, with watersheds over 2,000 meters and a large flat zone in the middle with an altitude between 1,100 and 1,300 m containing the valley of the Luna and Sil Rivers. The valley of the Luna River is the main area where the populations and human activities are concentrated.

The designation of the Babia Region as a Biosphere Reserve is a further step in the recognition of the Cantabrian Mountain range as a unit of high environmental value, with landscapes, habitats and species of fauna and flora worthy to be conserved. The Babia Region hosts a set of singular species of fauna, such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos) which is in danger of extinction, the grey partridge (Perdix perdix), and the broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi), a species endemic to the Cantabrian Mountains. There are also numerous birds, a rich representation of different species of bats and rivers in good state of conservation rich in fish species. The floristic diversity includes numerous Iberian endemic species, some of which are represented only in the Region of Babia such as the Saxifraga babiana and the Centaurea janeri ssp. babiana. This natural wealth is linked to the human activities and to extensive livestock raising in particular, an activity that has sculpted the landscape for centuries. In the abundant pasturelands that extend in the entire region the greater number of floristic endemic species can be found. The livestock raising activity takes advantage of the high-mountain grasslands with sheep, cattle and horse raising. Tourism of low intensity is the second main activity in the Biosphere Reserve, with nature trails and mountaineering activities. Some 1,900 people live permanently in the Biosphere Reserve, in traditional settlements dating back to the Middle Ages.

There are different protection regimes for the Biosphere Reserve, some which affect all of the Babia Region and have a uniform protection, others that have a limited scope in the territory. A management plan of the Valles de Babia y Luna protected area is being elaborated that will include the area of the Biosphere Reserve. The environmental planning include the application of a series of protection instruments; the urban planning, developed by the City councils, considers the land use of the territory with special environmental sensitivity; and the hydrological planning regulates the use of the hydrological resources, such as the Duero River Basin.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands; Mixed mountain and highland systems
  Major habitats & land cover types   Grassland-Matorral dominated by heather (Calluna vulgaris), Vaccinium myrtillus and V. uliginosum with presence of Juniperus communis ssp. nana; Heath dominated by Erica australis ssp. aragonensis with presence of Daboecia cantabrica, Genistella tridentata, Erica cinerea, etc.; Rocky places and canchales with Armeria bigerrensis, Centaurea janeri ssp. babiana, Festuca burnatii etc.; Grasslands dominated by matgrass (Nardus stricta) and with other gramineae species such as Aira caryophyllea, Agrostis canina, Teucrium scorodonia etc.; Prados de Siega with black poplars (Populus nigra), hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna), ashes (Fraxinus excelsior) etc.; Gorse shrub with Genista hispanica ssp. occidentalis; Piornales dominated by Cytisus scoparius and Genista polypaliphylla that is replaced by Genista obstusirramea in the highest zones; Other shrubby formations; Arboreal formations (with beech (Fagus sylvatica), sessile oak (Quercus petraea), white birch (Betula alba) tree heath (Erica arborea), oak groves with sessile and Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica), birch forest); Towns and anthropogenic complexes; Coniferous reforestation areas; Humid areas (communities of water courses, quaking bogs and lagoons).
  Location   42񴁇.05"N; 6�58�48.37" (Central point)
43񳭝7.49"N (Northern latitude)
42�53�17.27"N (Southern latitude)
6�15�28.71"W (Western longitude)
5�53�9.07"W (Eastern longitude)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   38,018
  Core area(s)   12,322
  Buffer zone(s)   22,777
  Transition area(s) when given   2,919
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +1,120 to +2,417
  Year designated   2004
  Administrative authorities  
  Brief description   The core areas include the areas of greater environmental value fundamentally for their physiographic, geomorphological, floristic, faunal and landscape characteristics. The units were identified using the following criteria: Presence of endemic species, critical species and communities, naturalness (degree of conservation in relation to the influence of human activities), fragility (capacity to resist against external aggressions and capacity to recover), singularity, and complexity. As a result of this analysis the following units were selected for conservation: Beech forests, oak groves of English oak (Quercus robur), Pyrenean oak groves, birch forests, pasture lands and rocky formations, pasturelands and grassland-matorral formations on limestone, rocky places and canchales. Habitats of interest for the fauna, habitats of priority interest according to the Habitats Directive, and formations of geological interest were also taken into account, as well as the different uses of the territory. The combination of the different layers of information resulted in a series of zones. The core areas have the sufficient surface to conserve biodiversity, because they include almost all of the habitats of special interest. The buffer zones surround the core areas, serving as protection against the more intensive practices in the transition areas. The transition areas include human settlements and the more intensive practices including grasslands, mining extraction and communication axes.

Projects related to low-cost residual water treatment systems; Investigations of fauna and flora to apply a suitable management of natural resources; Inventories and detailed cartography on flora, vegetation cover and habitats; Study of high-mountain pasture lands for cattle raising and the roads accessing these areas.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, habitat.
  Biodiversity   Fauna, flora, mountain and highland systems, natural resources, vegetation studies/plant cover.
  Socio-economic   Livestock and related impacts/Overgrazing, pastoralism/pastoralists/grazing.
  Integrated monitoring   Management issues, mapping.
  Contact address   Noem� Men閚dez
Entidad Gestora de la Reserva de la Biosfera de Babia
Suero de Qui駉nes, 32, bajo
24002 Le髇
  Telephone   (34.987) 073203
  Fax   (34.987) 073203
  E-mail   info@babia-rbiosfera.org

Last updated: 08/01/2008

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