Without a doubt, one of the most distinctive living elements of the Laguna de Gallocanta are the birds, especially the striking flocks of common cranes that rest and feed here during the course of their migratory trips.
The vast majority of the European crane population moving on the western migratory route use Gallocanta as a feeding and resting area. Over 100,000 cranes have been counted in a single day (02/24/2011) and its normal for 40,000 to 60,000 individuals to be present during an average migratory season.
Despite its apparent barren landscape this natural area (The future Estepa de los Monegros National Park) is of high ecological value, home to a rich biodiversity and represents one of the best semi-desert areas in all of Europe.
The Sierra de Alcubierre mountain chain crosses the comarca from Northwest to Southeast. Its maximum elevation is 822 meters, at the mountain called Oscuro. The climate is semiarid with scarce rainfall and high temperatures in the autumn. The area has numerous saltwater and freshwater lakes, including the lake of Sariñena and the lake of Gallocanta.
A short film showing the area of los Monegros
The area’s cultural heritage includes several historical monasteries, including the Monasterio de Santa María de Sigena and the Charterhouse of Las Fuentes.
The proposed area for the future Estepa de los Monegros National Park covers the Aragonese regions of Los Monegros , the Ribera Baja del Ebro and the Central Region, in the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca, and has an area of 28,869 hectares distributed between the municipalities of Alfajarín and Villafranca de Ebro (Central Region), Pina de Ebro (Region of the Ribera Baja del Ebro), Monegrillo, Farlete and Perdiguera (Region of Los Monegros) in Zaragoza and Alcubierre, Lanaja (Los Monegros region) in Huesca.
The natural spaces that make up the Network of National Parks in Spain form a varied mosaic of ecosystems such as marshlands, lava fields, snowy peaks, marine reserves, forests, deserts and river canyons so it is important that the landscape and habitat of Los Monegros be added to this listof protected areas.
The advance of macro-farms and mega-projects of renewable energy add to the threats to this valuable natural space as was the plan some years ago to build a huge Las Vegas casino complex (Gran Scala) so the conservation organization SEO / BirdLife has sent to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and the Government of Aragón a proposal to declare the Estepa de Los Monegros National Park.
If declared this would be the first protected natural space designated as a National Park with characteristics of a steppe ecosystem, both in Spain and in Europe, which would place Aragón as a benchmark for observation and study of these valuable ecosystems . The designated territory represents a dozen habitats of community interest, three of which are a priority at European level, and it is home to valuable biodiversity, among which several species of flora and fauna in danger of extinction are present.
Villages and towns: Abiego, Adahuesca, Aínsa-Sobrarbe, Alquézar, Arguis, Bárcabo, Bierge, Boltaña, Caldearenas, Casbas de Huesca, Colungo, Huesca, Loporzano, Nueno and Sabiñánigo.
Points of interest
The Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park (in Aragonese Parque natural d’a Sierra y as Foces de Guara ) is the largest protected area in Aragón located in the province of Huesca and covers the regions of Alto Gállego, Hoya de Huesca, Sobrarbe and Somontano de Barbastro.
Thanks to its geology this area has become somewhat a Mecca for the practice of canyoning and climbing (In fact some would say that this is the area in Europe that first developed the sport of canyoning). The ravine of the Balcés river is more than 20 km in length and has cliffs as high as 800 m. The Grallera Alta de Guara chasm which has a vertical drop of 277 m.
The whole area is noteworthy for its spectacular scenery and wildlife.
Local towns and Villages: Benasque, Gistaín, Montanuy, Sahún, San Juan de Plan
Points of interest
The Posets-Maladeta Natural Park is a protected natural area located in the north of the Ribagorza region and northeast of Sobrarbe in the province of Huesca. It encompasses two of the highest massifs in the Pyrenees. Heights range from 1,500 m in the valley to 3404 m at the summit of Aneto which is the highest peak in the Pyrenees. The moraines and mountain lakes of Vallibierna, Cregüeña, Batisielles, Millares and Remuñe are home to flora and fauna of the high mountain climate. Along with the Benasque valley there are other valleys within the natural park such as the Estós and Vallibierna.