|Andalusia: A Natural Area|
Spain clearly leads the rankings for biodiversity in Europe, in terms of flora, fauna and protected areas, the result of its bioclimatic diversity and its rural traditions that work with the natural environment. For its part, Andalusia boasts the most extensive area of protected territory amongst all the autonomous regions of Spain.
As a result of the natural evolution of the region and the way in which its human populations, both past and present, make and have made use of the resources of this land, Andalusia is home to a wide variety of ecosystems, of which the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park is a magnificent example.
Andalusia's great biological and geological diversity and its array of different landscapes have led it to be considered one of the richest and best-preserved regions in Europe. It is home to the Iberian lynx (the breeding site is located in the north of the province of Jaen), the imperial eagle and the last surviving wolf populations in southern Spain, also boasting extensive meadowlands and forests of ilex, cork oak and Spanish fir, the extraordinary concentration of endemic plant species in the south-eastern mountains and now the bearded vulture. Only in Andalusia can you find places as remarkable as DoĆ±ana, Grazalema, Sierra Nevada, Cabo de Gata-NĆjar and the Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas mountain ranges, amongst many other locations.
At present, Andalusia boasts 156 Protected Natural Areas that together cover no less than 1.8 million hectares, accounting for over 20% of Andalusia's total land area and approximately 30% of the total surface area of protected areas in Spain: 154 areas including national parks, natural parks, semi-urban parks, natural beauty spots, protected landscapes, natural monuments and various types of nature reserve.
JaĆ©n, the Spanish province with the large surface area of protected space.
If Andalusia is rich in natural features and landscapes, the province of Jaen is the jewel in the crown, boasting the largest surface area of protected natural spaces (304,175 hectares) in Spain, wherein attention should be drawn to its four natural parks: DespeĆ±aperros, Sierra de AndĆŗjar, Sierra MĆ”gina and Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas.
Jaen is a land of contrasts: its craggy mountain ranges covered in wild vegetation and its rolling countryside and meadowlands, for the most part given over to olive cultivation, afford the province a markedly diverse landscape. The confluence of Jaen's varied environmental features makes its biodiversity one of the most important, not only in Spain, but in Europe as a whole.