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Tenth anniversary of La Gomera as a Biosphere reservation


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Diario de Avisos

Luis Herrera Mesa

Full Professor emeritus. University of Navarra

Luis Herrera MesaI want to bring up this article to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the declaration of the Island of La Gomera as reservation of the Biosphere during the 24th Session of the committee International Coordination of the Man and the Biosphere Program -MaB-, of Unesco, held in Paris from July 9-13, 2012, to which I made accredited specialization in my last book (Herrera 2021, Ecology, climate change and sixth extinction, McGraw Hill).

La Gomera as reservation World Biosphere has 17 protected natural areas of unique beauty, representing a third of the island's surface. In this way it is aligned with the objectives of the 'European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030', of the European Environment Agency, to protect at least 30% of the land surface. In addition to the Garajonay National Park, which has celebrated its 40th anniversary since its creation in 1981, it includes the Valle Gran Rey Rural Park, the Benchijigua Integral Natural reservation , the Puntallana Special Natural reservation , the Majona Natural Park, the Los Órganos Natural Monuments, Roque Cano, Roque Blanco, La Fortaleza de Chipude, Barranco del Cabrito, La Caldera, Lomo del Carretón and Los Roques, the Protected Landscape of Orone, and the Sites of Scientific Interest of the Cliffs of Alajeró, Charco del Conde and Charco de Cieno.

The La Gomera Biosphere reservation covers the entire emerged territory of the island plus a surrounding marine area. The reservation is composed of a Core Zone with an area of 13,134 hectares, a buffer zone of 19,070 hectares and a transition zone of 52,317 hectares.

The core zone is protected under the Law of Protected Natural Spaces of the Canary Islands and of spaces included in the network Natura 2000, with a predominance of public ownership. This core zone includes the Garajonay National Park. The buffer zone includes areas of great natural and landscape value, which also form part of the network Natura 2000; this zone is publicly and privately owned. And the transition zone that supports the island's productive activities in which private ownership predominates. The entire marine zone of the reservation is publicly owned.

La Gomera as reservation World Biosphere is characterized from the point of view of physiography by the high altitude average of the island -among the highest values in the world-, with an exceptionally abrupt relief, organized in radial and deep ravines. Its geomorphology is result of an ancient volcanic edifice that has not erupted for more than eight million years and has undergone intense hydraulic erosion, manager of the dismantling of the periphery and the upward incision towards the center. The landscape modeling process has maintained a characteristic central plateau at an altitude of about 1,000 m average and its extensions along the divides between ravines. On the northern slope of the upper platform the sea of clouds stagnates, giving rise to the 'horizontal rain'. training The high humidity has favored the existence of the most important monteverde forest of the archipelago in the Garajonay National Park, which includes the most extensive laurel forest in the Canary Islands and in the best state of conservation, with two emblematic species: the rabiche pigeon (Columba junoniae) and the viñátigo (Persea indica).

The deep ravines, flanked by ridges and ridges, have functioned as areas for the evolution of plants and animals, which have increased their diversity over time, with one of the highest levels of endemism of the islands that make up the archipelagos of Macaronesia.

It is worth noting the human imprint in some characteristic landscapes marked by the presence of eretas or terraces, which make possible the cultivation of crops on steep slopes, with the presence of the Canary Island palm tree (Phoenix canariensis), endemic to the islands. The silbo gomero is part of the linguistic and cultural heritage of the island, declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

The marine environment with a rugged insular platform is equally rich in fauna. La Gomera, like the other islands of the archipelago, is one of the islands with the greatest diversity of cetaceans, with more than 30 species of whales, dolphins, sperm whales and pilot whales.

According to the 2019 census, the population of the island amounts to 21,503 inhabitants, being the second least populated island of the Canary Islands. The population density average is 62 inhab./km2 unequally distributed, with a relatively high density in the municipality of Valle Gran Rey and very leave in Vallehermoso.

In recent years, the demographic evolution sample has shown a trend towards population loss, especially in the 30-40 age group, due to emigration. This fact is one of the challenges of management to be faced by reservation of the biosphere.

Of the Protected Natural Spaces, the most emblematic is the Garajonay National Park, created by law in 1981. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. In 2008 it joined the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Natural Areas of the Europarc Federation. In 2009 it was declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) of the network Natura 2000.