Cabo de Gata-Níjar Geopark is one of the few sub-desertic areas in continental Europe and was the first maritime and terrestrial Protected Area in Andalusia. The Geopark consists of a 380 square-kilometre terrestrial component, and a 120 square-kilometre marine component, along with 50 kilometres of the best preserved rocky cliffs in the Mediterranean European coastline. The territory has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys an average annual temperature of 20ºC with an average of 8 hours/day of sunlight.
The Park has garnered different international awards for its natural values: Special Protection Areas (SPAs, 1989), Wetland of International Importance RAMSAR(1990), Reserve of the Biosphere (MAB, 1997), Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI, 2001), Natura2000 (2006), European Geopark(2001), Global Geopark (2006) and European Charter of Sustainable Tourism(ECST, 2008).
The park’s peculiarity in terms of ecology and landscape is due to its climate features, with a practically absence of a proper winter season, its geographic isolation and the traditional use of the land. It is an ecological boundarie with Africa and because that we share numerous species with the North of Africa, absents in the European continent.
The richness of flora ranks among the most diverse and singular in Europe: more than 1000 autochthonous flora species, hundreds of them with small size and ephemeral life (days, months). As regards fauna, there are remarkable marine birds, steppe birds and salt marsh birds communities.
Its geodiversity derives from the the volcanic range of Cabo de Gata, the most complex and extense volcanic deposits in the Iberian Peninsula, but is also worth to mention the Tortonian and Messinian reef deposits along with excellent examples of tyrrhenian fósil beaches.
The volcanic complex has an intermediate chemistry, with andesites and dacites as the most common volcanic rocks.The Geopark represent only a 5% of the whole volcanic complex, that can be found in the neraby Alboran sea. It is a first class witness of submarine volcanic process with exceptional conditions for observation, with more of eight hours of sunlight per day and scarce vegetation. This allows to visit the Geopark all year long, as an open geological museum with a great scientific, didactic and tourist interest: lava flows, volcanic domes, volcanic calderas, columnar joints, fossilized beaches, reef constructions, climate change evidences, etc.
As a result of the aridity of the climate and the shortage of fertile soil, the ancient settlers in this land devised a system of wind mills, water wheels, wells and cisterns for the extraction and storage of water. These structures were registered in the General Catalogue of the Historical Heritage of Andalusia(2001) and represent milestones in the history and development of the landscape of the Geopark.
Cabo de Gata enjoys of a mixture of Atlantic and Mediterranean water mass that allows the development of the Almeria-Oran front biodiversity hotspot. The park contains wide prairies of Posidonia oceanica; sea urchins, starfish, sponges, molluscs, and many fish find refuge, food and ideal breeding grounds among their green leaves.
The best way to visit the Geopark is through the collaborator enterprises gathered under the labels:
Natural Park Label (http://www.marcaparquenatural.com/parquesnaturales/cabo-de-gata-nijar/)
EuropeanCharter for Sustainable Tourism (http://www.european-charter.org/charter-network/charter-areas2)
What to visit the Geopark?
· House of the Volcanoes, Geotouriscal Centre
· Amoladeras Visitor Centre
· Albardinal Botanical Garden
· Public tracks network
· Bird watching observatories
· Information Points network:
Geopark Head Office
04115 Rodalquilar-Nijar (Almería)
Tel: + 34 950 100394
Fax: + 34 950 803049
E-mail: Jose Manuel Quero firstname.lastname@example.org
Fernando Molina email@example.com
Pablo Rivas firstname.lastname@example.org