2. FAUNA
  3. FLORA

What is this?

According to the International Convention on Biological Diversity signed in Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit, biodiversity is the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes as part of this includes diversity within species, between species and ecosystems.

The total number of taxa (different forms of plant and animal) found in our country is 80,000. In Europe, the Mediterranean countries, mainly Spain, Italy and Greece are those containing the greatest biodiversity.

The following table presents a comparative study of the number of taxa of Spain with Europe.

Vascular plants80005913500

Table 1. Comparative study of the number of taxa of Spain with Europe. "(Source: Ministry of Education and Culture: International Commission on Science and Technology. 1994)

Why this diversity?

The geological diversity, climate, soil, watershed, etc, together with paleographical and paleoclimatic changes and the important role of the Iberian Peninsula as a geographical bridge between two continents to the movement of the species has led to a wealth of biogeographical ecosystems framed in three regions: Euro-Siberian, Mediterranean and Macaronesian regions defined bioclimatic fourteen.

Summary of habitats Habitats Directive represented in Spain:

  • Coastal and halophytic habitats

Of interest in the European Union funds coastal submarines, intertidal areas, estuaries, rivers and reefs. Sea cliffs. Swamps, marshes and coastal or inland salt marshes

Identified as priorities: Posidonia meadows, ponds, scrub steppe gypsiferous or saline soils

  • Freshwater habitats

Interest in the European Union: oligotrophic lakes and ponds or dystrophic, eutrophic natural lakes, rivers and mountain streams, communities submerged river channels, streams and intermittent Mediterranean

Identified as priorities: Mediterranean temporary ponds

  • Sclerophyllous shrublands and shrublands

Interest in the European Union: bojeda, broom, and Retamares Escobonal, juniper and juniper shrubs, with palmettos thermophilic garrigue, thyme bushes and Thermo, thorny thickets of the Mediterranean sea cliffs

Identified as priorities: azufaifares wormwoods and arid southeastern peninsula, laurel shrub formations

  • Peatlands

Identified as priorities: ombrógenas active peatlands, calcareous tuffs and masiegares

  • Coastal and inland dunes

Interest in the European Union: sand dunes and coastal or inland

Identified as priorities: Atlantic gray dunes, heaths, pine, juniper and juniper dunes

  • Heather

Interest in the European Union: heather Atlantic, Mediterranean and Macaronesian, thickets of alpine and subalpine heath, scrub mountain papilionaceous Mediterranean and Canary Islands

Identified as priorities: canaries fayal-heaths, heath with gorse of the sea cliffs

  • And semi-natural grasslands

Interest in the European Union: high-mountain grassland, mesophile grassland calcareous soil, pastures with oak trees, meadows, bogs, marshes, meadows, pastures megaphorbic

Identified as priorities: Cervunal, grasslands crasifolios calcareous outcrops, grasslands, xeric Mediterranean annual or perennial short stature

  • Rocky habitats and caves

Interest in the European Union: vegetation of rocks, rocks and scree, communities of lava flows and other volcanic eruptions, land and sea caves

  • Forests

Interest in the European Union: Deciduous forests (beech, Carballeda, oaks and oaks, chestnut), and riparian forest (Mediterranean ash, alder, poplar and willow, loreras, birch) forests of hornbeam (tamarisk, oleander and tamujares ramblas) , sclerophyllous forests (carob and olive trees, cork oak and holm oak, holly), coniferous forest (subalpine forests of black pine, pinsapares, Mediterranean pine forests, pine canaries)

Identified as priorities: Cantabrian mixed forests of Pyrenean linden, alder, ash and willow Atlantic, temperate evergreen forest green or canary, canaries plamerales, African juniper forests, juniper and juniper and Macaronesian Mediterranean.



Spanish territory living species of worldwide distribution with other Iberian endemic species that are unique. Given the geographical situation of the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic and Canary Islands, Spain is a key area in the migration of many animals, especially birds, fish and marine mammals, which is used as a transit point between their breeding and wintering or as a settlement for one of those times.



There are 250,000 species of plants described in the world and one in ten are more or less endangered. In Europe are between 13,500 and 15,000 in this situation.

SpeciesNumeber of species
Vascular plants8000-9000

Table 2. Species of endangered plants

According to the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species taxa included in some of the different categories of threat are distributed as follows.

Sensitive to habitat disturbance7
Special Interest11

Table 3. Breakdown by category of threat



Spain has a hundred different forests that are within the classification:

     Atlantic or Euro-Siberian Forests

Location: north of Galicia, Cantabrian and Pyrenees

Characteristics: deciduous trees and conifers in the higher areas
Birch, beech, oak, black pine and fir (in areas between 1000-2000 meters)

     Sub-Mediterranean forest or transition

Location: mid north of Spain, Sierra Nevada

Caracterísitcas: natural pine (pine and wild lauricio)

     Mediterranean forests

Location: depression of the Duero, Tagus Valley Alcarria, depression of the Guadalquivir, the Mediterranean coast and Balearic Segura area

Features: hard-leafed trees and perennials. The best example is the oak

     Thermo Forests

Location: very dry areas without frost and the southeast peninsula
Aleppo pine, palmetto, coscoja

     Forest Canary

Location: Canary Islands

Characteristics: forest laurel is the most representative areas of 500-1200 m in height in which are represented the majority of tropical forest trees

Riparian forests



The Network of National Parks is an integrated protection and management of natural heritage Spanish. The Network consists of National Parks, which are a selection of the best and most representative of natural systems, its regulatory framework, the material and human resources needed for management, and, finally, the various institutions essential for proper operation.

The purpose of the Network of National Parks to ensure the conservation of these areas, allowing its public use and scientific knowledge of natural and cultural values​​. The Network also attempts to foster a social consciousness conservation, and create models of sustainable development.

What´s a National Park?

A National Park is a little natural area transformed by human exploitation or occupation which, due to the beauty of its landscapes, the representativeness of ecosystems, or the uniqueness of its flora, fauna or geomorphological formations, has a ecological, aesthetic, educational and scientific conservation deserve preferential treatment. They may limit the use of natural resources, prohibited in any case incompatible with the purposes which justified his statement.

The general objectives of a National Park are:


  • Conservation of natural and cultural values​​, biodiversity and landscape
  • Awareness in society about the need to protect the environment through a PRS
  • Research aimed at contributing to better management of natural resources
  • Promote sustainable development of the area in which it sits

More information




Table 4. Biodiversity data. Source: Environmental Profile of Spain 2008