National Parks in Spain

Welcome to a fascinating journey through the most amazing and diverse landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula. From the high peaks of Sierra Nevada, the ancient forests of Ordesa and Monte Perdido, or the wonderful Teide National Park, each of Spain’s national parks invites you to immerse yourself in the biodiversity and history that make them unique.

Discover the richness of the fauna and flora, be amazed by the spectacular geological formations, and learn about the traditions and ways of life that have coexisted with these ecosystems for centuries. Join us in the adventure of exploring, learning, and preserving these natural treasures for future generations.

How Many National Parks Are There in Spain?

How Many National Parks Are There in Spain?

In Spain, the network of National Parks is a natural and cultural treasure, representing the diversity of ecosystems and landscapes in the country. As of my last update in April 2023, Spain has a list of 16 National Parks. These protected areas range from the peaks of the Canary Islands to the deciduous forests of the Peninsula, passing through internationally important wetlands and volcanic landscapes. Each park offers a unique experience, such as the Sierra de las Nieves National Park, reflecting Spain’s biological and geological richness, as well as serving as centers for conservation, research, and environmental education.

List of National Parks in Spain

In the Iberian Peninsula of Spain, there are different protected areas and natural sites of global interest, spread throughout the national territory, providing the landscape with a spectacular view of the protection of ecosystems and nature in Southern Europe. For example, the Caldera de Taburiente National Park located in La Palma, Canary Islands, stands out for its massive volcanic caldera, lush Canary pine forests, and a network of trails that offer spectacular views.

Picos de Europa National Park

This park, located in northern Spain, spans parts of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castilla y León. It is known for its impressive rock formations, deep gorges, and biodiversity, being home to the bearded vulture and other emblematic species.

Sierra de Guadarrama National Park

In the Community of Madrid and Castilla y León, this park offers mountainous landscapes, glacial lakes, and rich wildlife including imperial eagles and mountain goats, ideal for outdoor activities.

Tablas de Daimiel National Park

Located in Castilla-La Mancha, this park is one of the last examples of floodplain ecosystems in Europe. It is an important refuge for aquatic birds and offers a unique wetland landscape.

Timanfaya National Park

Located in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Timanfaya National Park is famous for its volcanic landscapes, with lava fields and geysers. It offers a unique experience of volcanic geology and its adapted flora and fauna.

Doñana National Park

This park, located in Andalusia, is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. It hosts a great diversity of migratory birds, mammals such as the Iberian lynx, and landscapes of marshes, dunes, and forests.

Cabañeros National Park

Located in Castilla-La Mancha, Cabañeros is known as the "Spanish Serengeti" for its vast plains and rich wildlife, including deer, wild boar, and imperial eagles. Its forests and dehesas offer a unique landscape.

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

In the Aragonese Pyrenees, this park is famous for its towering mountains like Monte Perdido, deep canyons, and waterfalls. It is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.

Garajonay National Park

Located in La Gomera, Canary Islands, this park is home to one of the best-preserved laurel forests in the world. Its lush vegetation and biodiversity make it a magical place to explore.

Monfragüe National Park

In Extremadura, Monfragüe is known for its spectacular dehesa landscapes and rocky outcrops, and it is a paradise for bird watching, including black vultures and imperial eagles.

Archipiélago de Cabrera National Park

Located in the Balearic Islands, this maritime-terrestrial park protects a great marine and terrestrial biodiversity, with crystal-clear waters, caves, and rich underwater fauna.

Islas Atlánticas de Galicia National Park

This park, composed of four archipelagos, is famous for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and rich marine biodiversity. It is a refuge for seabirds and offers stunning coastal landscapes.

Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park

Located in the Catalan Pyrenees, this park is known for its high mountain landscapes, glacial lakes, and crystal-clear rivers. It offers exceptional biodiversity and is ideal for mountain activities.

Management Categories of Protected Areas in the Iberian Peninsula

The management categories of protected areas, established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are a global standard for classifying protected areas according to their management objectives. These categories are recognized by international organizations such as the United Nations and by numerous national governments, and are increasingly being incorporated into governmental legislation. The IUCN defines several categories ranging from strictly protected areas to those with sustainable uses of their natural resources.

These categories provide a framework for the management and classification of protected areas, ensuring biodiversity is maintained and critical ecosystems are protected while, in some cases, allowing sustainable use of natural resources. The application of these categories to marine and terrestrial protected areas seeks to improve precision and consistency both in category assignment and in reporting on them, which is crucial for the global effectiveness of the classification system.

For more details, it is recommended to consult the publications and resources offered by the IUCN, where the definitions and applications of these management categories in protected areas are described in greater depth.

The management categories of protected areas in Spain according to IUCN are as follows:

Category Ia – Strict Nature Reserve

Protected areas managed primarily for research or biodiversity conservation, where human interventions are minimal.

Category Ib – Wilderness Area

Large areas of land or sea that remain without significant human intervention, managed to preserve their natural condition.

Category II – National Park

Protected areas intended to protect significant ecosystems and provide fundamental opportunities for outdoor recreation and education, currently including 16 Spanish national parks.

Category III – Natural Monument

Protected areas managed primarily to conserve specific natural and cultural features.

Category IV – Habitat/Species Management Area

Protected areas to ensure the viability of specific species or habitats, which require management interventions.

Category V – Protected Landscape/Seascape

Areas where the interaction of people and nature has produced an area of significant aesthetic or ecological value, and where a balance between conservation and sustainable use of natural resources is sought.

Category VI – Protected Area with Sustainable Resource Use

Protected areas that combine ecosystem and habitat conservation with the sustainable use of natural resources, where conservation is achieved through sustainable management.

These categories offer a framework for planning, establishing, and managing protected areas worldwide, allowing for a variety of conservation objectives and types of use.