Hayedo de Montejo beech forest

  • Region: Madrid
  • Declared a protected area: 1974
  • Park surface area: 250 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Montejo de la Sierra

The hayedo Montejo beech forest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Ayllón and is protected as a Natural Site of National Interest. It is a site of Community Importance (SCI) of Alto Lozoya and is also included within the limits of the the Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve.

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Discovering the Wonders of the Sea: A Guide to Spain’s Best Aquariums

In this guide to Spain’s best aquariums, you’ll find that it’s home to some of the most impressive and diverse marine museums. From L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia, which is the largest in Europe, to the stunning Poema del Mar Aquarium in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, there are plenty of opportunities to discover the wonders of the marine world. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of species, from colorful fish and sea turtles to sharks and rays.

Aquariums have become increasingly popular tourist destinations in recent years, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse and fascinating creatures that inhabit our oceans and waterways.

In addition to providing a thrilling and educational experience, many of these aquariums place a strong emphasis on conservation and research, working to protect the marine environment and its inhabitants. Whether you’re a family looking for a fun day out or a marine enthusiast seeking to expand your knowledge, there’s something for everyone in Spain’s aquariums.

Just click the images to find out more about entry prices and booking details.

Aquariums in Andalucia (A Guide to Spain’s Best Aquariums)

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Bearded Vulture – Gypaetus barbatus – Quebrantahuesos

  • English: Bearded Vulture
  • Spanish: Quebrantahuesos
  • Alternative names / spellings: Lammergeier, Lammergeyer, Lammergeir.
  • Catalan: Trencalòs

The Bearded Vulture – Gypaetus barbatusQuebrantahuesos is one of the largest raptors in Spain and also the rarest. It has a wingspan of 2.8 m and length of around 1.10 m. The dark, narrow wings taper to a point while the tail is long and wedge shaped. The body, legs and head are a dirty white although they deliberately stain this to a dark orange colour using iron oxides contained in calcareous rock where available. They have dark feathers around the eyes and it is the long bristles draped beside the bill which leads to the English common name of Bearded Vulture.

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The Brown Bear Population in the Cantabrian Mountains: Facts and Controversies

The brown bear population in the Cantabrian Mountains has been a topic of significant discussion and research. Recent data and conflicting reports have sparked debates about the true state of the population and the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

This article aims to consolidate information from two contradictory reports to provide a comprehensive overview of the current situation.

Population Estimates and Monitoring Efforts

According to official fieldwork carried out between 2020 and 2021, the brown bear population in the Cantabrian Mountains is estimated to be at 370 individuals. This estimation was based on the individualized identification of non-invasive samples, primarily feces. The Ministry of Environment and Territorial Planning highlighted that these efforts involved the autonomous communities of Castilla y León, Principality of Asturias, Cantabria, and Galicia. They focused on census collection, vigilance against threats, GPS tracking, and measures for human-bear coexistence.

So I have had a search on the website of the The Ministry of Environment and Territorial Planning and here is an example of their terrible lack of transparency… I certainly can’t find any new publication from 2022, 2023, or 2024. Here is an example: https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/publicaciones/pbl-fauna-flora-estrategias-oso-cantabrico.html

Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article if you are reading this and find any more information from their awful website! Thanks! 🙂

Conservation Success and Challenges

The recovery of the brown bear population over the past 30 years is seen as a significant conservation success. The population has grown from an estimated 80-100 individuals in the 1990s to 370 by 2020-2021. This increase has necessitated habitat protection measures and precise techniques to deter bears from urban environments. Despite this success, there are concerns about data manipulation and the true number of bears, particularly in the eastern subpopulation.

Controversial Findings and Criticisms

In 2023, a genetic census estimated the population at over 350 bears, with about 120 in the eastern region. However, FAPAS, an independent conservation organization, disputes these figures. They argue that the actual number of breeding females in the eastern region does not support such a high population estimate. FAPAS suggests that the official data might be manipulated for political reasons, emphasizing the need for transparency and scientifically backed methods in population evaluation.

Debate Ensues Over the Best Methodology for Cantabrian Bear Census as Genetic Analysis Sparks Controversy
The FAPAS website does not provide a specific number for the current population of brown bears in the Cantabrian Mountains directly on its publicly accessible pages. However, several sources indicate that the population of brown bears in the Cantabrian Mountains has reached approximately 350 individuals. This information aligns with the general consensus in recent reports and conservation efforts. https://www.fapas.es/
The Role of FAPAS and Independent Monitoring

FAPAS has been monitoring the brown bear population for decades, using fieldwork and genetic identification to track individual bears. They argue that the government’s current methods lack transparency and might be influenced by political interests. FAPAS continues to protect bear habitats, prevent conflicts, and provide accurate data to counteract any potential misinformation.

Managing Conflicts and Protecting Habitats
Protecting bee hives from bears in Spain
Every year FAPAS carry out work to protect protect around twenty apiaries. Photo: https://www.fapas.es/noticias/nuevo-boletin-de-fapas-2024

One of the significant challenges in bear conservation is managing human-bear conflicts, especially in areas where bears damage apiaries and fruit orchards. FAPAS has been proactive in protecting apiaries and mitigating conflicts through effective techniques. They stress the importance of preventing damage rather than merely compensating for it. Despite limited support from the administration, FAPAS’s efforts have shown success in reducing bear-related damages.

Addressing the “Problem Bears”

The concept of “problem bears” has emerged with the increasing population. These are bears that exhibit unusual behaviors, such as frequenting human settlements. Some argue that the issue is exaggerated to secure funding and justify certain management practices. FAPAS advocates for preventive measures, such as installing anti-bear containers and preventing bears from accessing food in human environments, rather than capturing and relocating the animals.

A bear trap in Asturias, Spain
A Critique from FAPAS on Bear Management in Asturias
“This photograph itself exemplifies poor bear management and conservation in Asturias. The bear trap is placed right next to all the rubbish as a bear approaches the containers. The containers are full of waste from local restaurants.
The proposed solution: capture the bear and relocate it. FAPAS asked Cogersa, the company responsible for waste collection in Asturias, to install anti-bear containers, as seen in other countries in Europe and America.
Instead, they prefer to create trouble for a bear merely looking for food inappropriately disposed of. What will happen when more bears approach the dumpsters? Will they keep relocating them all?”. Photo: https://www.fapas.es/noticias/nuevo-boletin-de-fapas-2024
Conclusion and further reading

The brown bear population in the Cantabrian Mountains could well be a symbol of successful conservation efforts but also highlights the challenges of wildlife management.

Accurate data, transparent methods, and effective conflict prevention are crucial for sustaining this success.

Independent organizations like FAPAS play a vital role in ensuring that conservation strategies remain effective and scientifically grounded. Moving forward, it is essential to balance population growth with habitat protection and conflict mitigation to secure the future of the brown bear in Spain.

However, from this authors point of view, if neither of the organisations mentioned in this article can actually get around to publishing accurate and up to date information (I mean at least last years census) on their websites how do they think they will maintain any kind of public consensus for their projects? I still don’t know how many bears there are in Spain!

See FAPAS here: https://www.fapas.es/noticias/nuevo-boletin-de-fapas-2024

Read more in depth information about the brown bear in Spain here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/cantabrian-brown-bear-ursus-arctos-oso-pardo-cantabrico/

And, FAPAS complaining about the methods used to create the brown bear census in Spain: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/debate-ensues-over-the-best-methodology-for-cantabrian-bear-census-as-genetic-analysis-sparks-controversy/

Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain.