SOBRARBE-PIRINEOS UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK
- GEOGRAPHICAL SETTING
Sobrarbe-Pirineos UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the north of Spain, within the Pyrenean mountain range. Administratively, it is included in Aragón region and Huesca province, matching 100% with Sobrarbe County.
The total surface of the Geopark is 2200 km2. 7.150 inhabitants live in this territory, mainly dedicated to tourism, agriculture and cattle industry.
Here we can find alpine meadows and thick forests in the high valleys where the water is always present forming waterfalls and gorges, such as the ones in Ordesa, Pineta, Bujaruelo or Chistau Valley; huge peaks such as Monte Perdido and Posets, where the last glaciers still survive declared Natural Monuments; and Añisclo Valley and Escuaín Valley, shaped by the waters of the rivers Bellos and Yaga. In its descend, along its rivers Ara and Cinca, the landscape will become more Mediterranean as it happens in Fueva Valley, in the scarps of Peña Montañesa or the Biello Sobrarbe, the entrance to the pre-pyrenean mountain ranges of Sierra de Guara and its Canyons where the visitor will enjoy the spectacular canyons, “mallos”, quarry and caves formed as a result of the fluvial erosion.
Due to all of this diversity of ecosystems and geological forms, the area was declared Global Geopark of UNESCO with three of its places included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO (Pirineos-Monte Perdido, Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin and Summer Solstice Fire Festivals in the Pyrenees). Moreover, there are many other types of protected areas inside the Geopark such as most of the Ordesa Viñamala Biosphere Reserve, Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, Cañones and Sierra de Guara Natural Park as well as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
- GEOLOGICAL HERITAGE
In the rocks of Sobrarbe, the last 550 million years of Earth history are represented. Two orogenies, metamorphic and magmatic processes, deep sea sedimentary rocks, calcareous shallow platforms, continental conglomerates and a wide range of geomorphological features (glaciers, karst, mountain rivers…) are easily visible in the geopark.
A total of 106 geosites are part of the geological heritage inventory, made from geological criteria and methodology. About a 25% of them are of international interest.
The geology of Sobrarbe is plenty of sites essentials to understand the birth of the Pyrenean mountain range from a sedimentological and tectonical point of view. It also contains impressive morphologies and active processes to understand the making of the landscape and the evolution of the climate in a sensitive area midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
- NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Apart from the outstanding geology, Sobrarbe also houses rich ecosystems that represent both the Alpine and Mediterranean environments. High mountain flora and fauna communities are found in the north of the Geopark, while medium mountain ones occupy the southern part. Many endangered species, like the bearded vulture, find shelter in the mountains of Sobrarbe.
A good indicator of the natural values of Sobrarbe is the presence of Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. This area holds also the European Award for protected areas, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for natural and cultural ( Pirineos-Monte Perdido) reasons and it is also the core area of Ordesa-Viñamala Biosphere Reserve, belonging to the Man and Biosphere UNESCO program. Thus, Sobrarbe has in its territory the three UNESCO designations: Geopark, World Heritage (natural and cultural) and Biosphere Reserve, pointing out the high importance of this part of the Spanish Pyrenees.
Besides that, two natural parks (Posets-Maladeta and Sierra y Cañones de Guara) and the Natural Monument of the Pyrenean Glaciers are present in Sobrarbe.
- CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Human presence in Sobrarbe is registered since prehistoric times. Many caves have paintings catalogued as World Heritage cultural Site by UNESCO. Other prehistoric constructions like dolmens are found all over the territory. In more recent times, Sobrarbe has a great heritage belonging to the Medieval Time, related to the high number of Romanesque churches, castles and towers spread along the area.
Many traditions and a rich intangible heritage are saved and alive in Sobrarbe. Traditional musical instruments, dances and customs, activities related to the sustainable use of environmental resources and popular celebrations like the carnival can be enjoyed by the local communities and the visitors.
- GEOPARK AND PEOPLE
The geopark tries to be present in the current life of Sobrarbe inhabitants and visitors in many ways, attending all the activities that a UNESCO Global Geopark must fulfil.
Concerning dissemination of geology among the general public, a network of 30 geo-trails. 13 mountain bike geo-routes and an itinerary to discover the Geopark by car are ready to use with many panels and brochures explaining the best of our geology to everybody, despite the initial knowledge of geology they have.
Collaboration with local enterprises and food producers is a very important issue for the geopark. We have a program of “Partner enterprises” that distinguish all the hotels, restaurants, museums… that share the same aims of the Geopark and communicate them to their customers. A quality label for local food producers has also been developed by the Geopark, as well. The promotion of all these quality products and the use of them in the local restaurants is a key action for us.
More info: http://geoparquepirineos.com/index.php?idi=3