Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Nature Park is located in the southwestern part of Asturias. It encompasses the upper reaches of the Rivers Narcea and Ibias and spans the boroughs of Cangas del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias.
The landscape of the park affords a wide variety of nuances which are uniquely revealed in each of the boroughs comprising it; in the area of Cangas del Narcea, the terrain is steep and rugged, while the River Narcea and its numerous tributaries offer ideal spots for trout and salmon fishing. This area also includes the enchanting Muniellos Forest, visits to which remain restricted so as to preserve its exceptional environment intact. Hunting for some of its many wildlife species, such as deer and wild boar, is permitted in other forested areas in the borough.
High mountain ranges and green valleys abound in the borough of Degaña. Its landscape constitutes one of the most typical ecosystems of the Cantabrian Mountains. It is home to forests of pedunculate oak and other species, such as birch, yew and holly. The most important beech forest, in terms of size and state of conservation, is the one in El Hermo Valley, which occupies 10 kilometres of hillside. There are also representative forests around the headwaters of the Rivers Ibias and Molín. Oak woods dot the entire area, the most emblematic being the sessile oak forest of Muniellos. Birches abound in Degaña, in the upper reaches of the River Naviego and on the slopes up to El Connio Pass. In the high mountains, the vegetation consists of juniper, heather and bilberry, the specimens found on El Cueto de Arbás being very characteristic.
The most representative wildlife in the park is undoubtedly the brown bear. The conditions of the area, its vast forests and inaccessible areas of refuge make it an excellent place for these animals to breed and survive. Although their numbers have markedly decreased in recent decades, the brown bear is undoubtedly the hallmark of Asturian forests. There are also notable numbers of wolves, with stable breeding areas and fairly large family groups. Numerous deer and chamois are to be found in extensive tracts of forest and scrubland. Noteworthy among birds is the capercaillie, an endangered species which makes its habitat in the forests of Hermo, Degaña and Muniellos. The presence of the protected otter can be observed in most rivers, whose waters abound in trout and salmon. Degaña is also a Regional Game Reserve greatly valued by hunters.
The third borough included in the park is Ibias. An extensive area of more gentle mountainous terrain provides for a landscape of great beauty and rich vegetation. Mount Valdebois, in the forest of Muniellos, is its most important enclave. The sources of the River Ibias and its tributaries bathe the mountain ranges and valleys with crystalline waters. Ibias has evidence of being populated during the Stone Age, the era of hill forts and the Roman period. Dolmens in Pradías and Chao Leda fuse history, culture and art with the spectacular nature of spots such as Muniellos and Los Ancares.
Worthy of note throughout the borough of Ibias is the popular architecture of hórreos (raised granaries-cum-storehouses) and pallozas (stone and thatch cabins which are an evolution of hill fort dwellings).
It was declared a Nature Park in 2002 and a Biosphere Reserve in 2003.
Article by Turismo Asturias: www.turismoasturias.es
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