This natural richness has been enhanced by factors such as the low population density and an economic and social growth founded on a respect for nature. The environmental awareness of the Navarran people, as well as a forward-thinking management policy, in particular regarding the use of renewable energies, have transformed Navarre into a benchmark in terms of environmental preservation.
A SHOWCASE NATURAL EXPANSE
The number of flora species catalogued in Navarre constitutes 33% of the national total, all in an area that covers just 2% of the Spain. A large part of the excellent natural balance in Navarre can be found in its well-preserved forests, as well as its major water resources (7,450 km of rivers), making Navarre one of the most popular locations for eco-tourists.
In terms of fauna, particularly outstanding are the brown bear, the European mink, the capercaillie, the white-backed woodpecker, the otter, the bearded vulture, the eagle, the Egyptian vulture, the vulture and the bittern. Particularly protected are the 16 species in danger of extinction.
OVER A HUNDRED PROTECTED SPACES
Navarre has an expansive Network of Protected Natural Spaces, which cover practically 50% of its territory: 3 Ecological Reserves, 38 Natural Reserves (such as the Lumbierand Arbajungorges, Larraand the Laguna de Pitillas), 28 Natural Enclaves, 2 Natural Recreation Areas, 13 Specially Protected Bird Areas, 14 Wild Fauna Protection Areas and 3 Natural Parks (Señorío de BertizUrbasa-Andíaand the Bardenas Reales, which were also declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2000). There are also two Wetlands of International Importance: the Laguna de Pitillasand the Laguna de las Cañas lagoons.
THREE NATURAL PARKS
Navarre has three natural parks which cover over 60,000 hectares:the Señorío de Bertiz, the Urbasa and Andía mountain ranges and the Bardenas Reales.
The Señorío de Bertiz Natural Park : is one of the most visited spots in Navarre. Located in the Western Pyrenees, on the banks of the River Bidasoa, it covers 2,040 hectares of exuberant vegetation, where we can find deer and squirrels, and hear the chirrup of the blackbirds and the tapping of the woodpecker. At the entrance to the park there is a botanical garden with 126 different species, some as exotic as Chinese gingkoes, Californian giant sequoia trees, Balkan chestnut trees, water lilies, camellias, azaleas and bamboo; a Centre for the Interpretation of Nature and a beautiful palace. Its present splendour is due to the last Lord of Bertiz, Pedro Ciga, who donated the estate to the Government of Navarre.
The Urbasa and Andía Natural Park is located between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Navarre, with meadows and leafy beech forests that thrive in an idyllic landscape on this large plateau. Its edge drops dramatically over the Valley of the Améscoas, creating the impressive natural viewpoint of the Urederra Source, a river with turquoise waters that can be followed along an easy path. Hiking, in fact, is one of the most common ways to enjoy its landscapes and to find out how hunters, shepherds, lumbermen and coalmen used to live. A place filled with dolmens and beautiful scenery, where sheep and ponies can often be seen grazing freely.
The Bardenas Reales Natural Park : hides a fascinating semi-desert landscape, where water, limestone and clay have sculpted astonishing shapes out of the land. Its eerie dryness, with an almost lunar appearance, has inspired painters, writers and film-makers alike, and the importance of its natural treasures led it to be declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There are viewpoints such as the Alto de Aguilares and the Balcón de Pilatos (Pontius Pilate’s Balcony), which is an exceptional observatory of birds of prey. You can also discover fascinating formations such as Castildetierra, the icon of the park, and Pisquerra, a landscape set apart for its peaks, cut shapes and forms that are sometimes ghostly…