The Oscos-Eo Biosphere Reserve affects an area of 1,600 square kilometres occupied by 14 boroughs (seven in Asturias and seven in Galicia), in which the River Eo serves as a link between the two territories, in addition to taking front stage as a creator of landscapes and coordinator of the Oscos-Eo territory.
The Oscos-Eo Biosphere Reserve was declared as such by the UNESCO in 2007, becoming the first to be awarded this distinction outside the network of protected nature areas. It also has the distinction of being the first to be shared by two autonomous communities, Asturias and Galicia.
The Oscos-Eo Biosphere Reserve encompasses seven boroughs in Asturias (Castropol, Vegadeo, San Tirso de Abres, Taramundi, Villanueva de Oscos, San Martin de Oscos and Santa Eulalia de Oscos) and covers a total of some 1,600 square kilometres, where approximately 34,000 people live. These are lands joined and associated by the «axis» of the Eo River and its estuary.
The area boasts a great variety of scenery. What’s more, its rich natural heritage associated with the mouth of the Eo and the valleys of the river basins that make up this area allow visitors to enjoy beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs. The optimal conservation of its forests makes them a good representative of the average western Cantabrian mountain environment. No less important are the ethnographic and architectural riches of the area.
In the Oscos-Eo declaration as a Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO recognizes the work of the residents of the area in favour of sustainable development, which promotes growth while respecting the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic diversity. This is a landscape set in territories that have suffered the consequences of secular isolation over centuries, which it has been able to overcome thanks to making the most of opportunities to develop pioneering sustainability and rural tourism projects of international scope. All this, together with its natural and environmental values, scenery, economic activities and cultural and ethnographic heritage, has allowed the area to continue to progress and develop in an orderly and sustainable way. The scenic values of the area are undeniable, though what is especially notable is its historical background of social and economic action and the conservation of its heritage.
The unquestionable natural beauty of the Principality of Asturias is evident in its six listed Biosphere Reserves, and in the fact that a third of its territory –340,000 hectares– boasts some kind of conservation order.
What stands out in relation to its rich and varied plant life is the magnificent conservation of its forests, thanks to the fact that the area has been fairly isolated.
There are outstanding forests of sessile oak (a species that withstands drier soils and is often found in the form of hybrids along with pedunculate oak), chestnut, birch and pine, as well as mixed broadleaf forests, composed mainly of oak, chestnut and birch.
Riverbank forests formed by alder, willow and ash, as well as maple and hazel, also occupy substantial areas.
Other protected species such as holly and yew can also be found in this natural area. Wild cherry, walnut and laurel round off the list of major plant life in the area. The shrub or scrub species include broom, heather and strawberry trees.
The wild boar, fox and deer are the most representative animals of this part of western Asturias, although small mammals such as the otter, pine marten, beech marten, civet cat, badger and weasel are also very common in the forests, especially in rocky areas around streams. The common buzzard, honey buzzard and kestrel are the most common birds of prey in these skies.
Article by Turismo Asturias: www.turismoasturias.es
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