Peneda-Gerês National Park
Please, login to help us
Hey friend, could you provide us a wikipedia URL with a good description of this protected area?
Please, be sure that you are suggesting an english language wikipedia URL (http://en.wiki....)mark it as wrong
The Peneda-Gerês National Park (Portuguese: Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês), also known simply as Gerês, is the only national park in Portugal (although many natural parks, protected landscapes, and reserves exist across the nation). It is located in the Norte region, in the northwest of Portugal, specifically in the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real.
The park was created on 8 May 1971 due to its national and international scientific interest, with the aim to protect the soil, water, flora, fauna, and landscape, while preserving its value to the existent human and natural resources. Education and tourism are also goals of the park.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park is located in the northwest of Portugal, extending through the municipalities of Melgaço, Arcos de Valdevez and Ponte da Barca (in the district of Viana do Castelo), Terras de Bouro (district of Braga), and Montalegre (district of Vila Real). The park has an area of 702.90 km². 52.75 km² of them are public property, 194.38 km² are private property, and the remaining 455.77 km² are commons.
There was a population of 9,099 according to the 1991 census, a 16% decrease from the 10,849 registered in 1981.
The park comprises a ridge of mountains — Peneda, Soajo, Amarela, and Gerês. These form a barrier between the sea shore plains to its west and the plateaus to the east. The highest peaks are Nevosa (1,545 m) and Altar dos Cabrões (1,538 m) located at the border with Spain, so these mountains continue into Spain, where they are known as Xurés.
An important feature of the landscape is the constant presence of water. Brooks and waterfalls are common at every mountain slope and the park is crossed by several rivers, namely Cávado, Lima, Homem, Rabagão, Castro Laboreiro, and Arado. There are dams across most of these: Alto Rabagão, Paradela, Caniçada, Vilarinho da Furna, Lindoso.
The few tens of villages in the high lands are located near the arable lands. Terraces, built to make better use of these scarce lands, and traditional houses, with granite walls and thatch roofs, shape the landscape with an indelible, yet harmonious, human mark in some of the most isolated villages as Pitões das Júnias and Ermida.
The high lands have an average temperature of about 10 °C, ranging from 4 to 14 °C; and an average precipitation of more than 2,500 mm/year with more than 130 rainy days per year. Snow is common in the Winter. The Homem and Cávado river valleys have a much milder climate, with temperatures of 8 to 20 °C, with an average of 14 °C; and an annual precipitation of 900 mm and around 100 days with rain.
The park's mountains formed between 380 and 280 million years ago, from the Devonian to the Permian Period. The mountain tops are dominated by granitic rocks, the oldest of them, at Amarela, date from 310 million years ago. Veins of minerals of tin, tungsten, molybdenum, and gold are present and were mined at the now closed mines of Carris and Borrageiro. Mostly at the northwest extremity, at Castro Laboreiro, there are outcrops of schist and quartz.
Some valleys show signs of glacier influence due to the glaciations in the Pleistocene Epoch.
The valleys have an exuberant display of vegetation. The most common are several oak species (Pedunculate oak, Pyrenean oak, Portuguese oak, and others), Portugal laurels, Holly, strawberry trees, and birches; also, next to rivers, yews and silver birches. Some woods, such as Albergaria and Cabril, are notably well preserved.
Moving towards the mountain tops the vegetation gets scarcer, both because of the harsher climate and the increased human pressure since the middle of the 20th century. Here plentiful heath, gorse, broom and juniper can be found.
There are endemic species of lily and fern.
Maize is the main agricultural product.
Gerês' fauna is not as prolific as the flora is, possibly due to a greater negative effect from human presence. Bears disappeared from the region in the 17th century and the extinct Pyrenean Ibex, locally known as Gerês Goat, was last seen in the 1890s.
However, many species find at Gerês one of their last harbours not only in Portugal but in the whole Iberian Peninsula. Wolves and Golden Eagles, seen as a threat to livestock, were almost eradicated due to hunting. They have been protected by law since the end of the 20th century.
Some other, relatively numerous, wild species include mammals, such as roe deers, wild boars, European otters, wild cats, beech and pine martens, and red squirrels; birds such as red kites, common buzzards, eagle owls, falcons, and whinchats; reptiles such as vipers, water snakes, and Schreiber's green lizards; and amphibians such as newts, salamanders and disc-tongued frogs.
Worthy of mention are the garrano, a breed of small horses. They mostly live in the wild but, since they are also bred, they have no significant fear of humans.
Two domestic animals also deserve being noted. The Barrosão ox, once used in agriculture, is nowadays endangered because it is losing its utility; as is also the Castro Laboreiro dog, a hunting dog.
Probably because the Gerês mountains are a somewhat inhospitable place, where mere survival is hard, the oldest signs of human presence date only from 4000 BC or 3000 BC. Dolmens and other megalithic tombs still stand near Castro Laboreiro and Mourela.
The Roman Geira, a Roman road, crosses the park. It connected Astorga (Spain) to Braccara Augusta (currently Braga, Portugal). Long stretches of it along the Homem are still preserved, along with some Roman bridges and numerous mile posts.
The Germanic tribe of the Buri accompanied the Suebi in their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and establishment in Gallaecia (modern northern Portugal and Galicia). The Buri settled in the region between the rivers Cávado and Homem, in the area know as Terras de Bouro (Land of the Buri).
Up to the 20th century it was common practice for the mountain population to live in two separate villages, mostly near Castro Laboreiro. From about Easter, in the Spring, to not after Christmas, in the Winter, they lived in the Summer village often above the 1,000 m, known as branda (from the Portuguese brando, meaning mild or gentle). The rest of the year was spent at the Winter village generally in a river valley, known as inverneira (from the Portuguese Inverno, meaning Winter). With the improved building and transportation technology this use is almost abandoned.
Recent times have also produced ruins. In 1970, the village of Vilarinho das Furnas was flooded by the Vilarinho das Furnas dam on the Homem. During years with low rainfall, the village ruins stands above the water, attracting thousands of tourists.
The Park tries to simultaneously encourage and control tourism, since the park's nature would not resist a massive flow of tourists. Accordingly there are six small camping sites and several hiking trails are marked, making it relatively easy to find many of the most interesting spots, such as the castros at Castro Laboreiro and Calcedónia and the monastery at Pitões das Júnias. The trail at Mézio as a particular concern in describing some of the local features.
Locations near the few major roads are the most visited. Many of them are related to the strong religiousness of the people in northern Portugal namely the shrines at Senhora da Peneda and São Bento da Porta Aberta. Others, as (http://www.soajo.net Soajo) and Lindoso, display traditional small granaries built of granite, the espigueiros (from the Portuguese espiga, meaning spike).
Probably the two most known and visited features are the many waterfalls, mostly the one near the old frontier station at Portela do Homem, and the Vilarinho das Furnas village, whenever the Vilarinho das Furnas Dam is low enough.
Some scientific study and research on geology and biology is done in collaboration with the nearby Minho University, at Braga, the area's largest city.
Do you want to say something about this protected area? Start a thread
Thanks friend, Could you tell us where you got this information?
Sorry, it is not possible to edit this geometry online. In the next few months we will be adding tools to edit complicated boundaries. Please try again soon!