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Sierra Blanca

Nature

Location

Located in the south west quadrant of the province of Malaga, with a NE - SW direction between latitudes 36º 30´N - 36º 30 ´N and longitudes 4º 45´W - 4º 57´W, it has an extension of 6,508.07 hectares, being framed within the municipal areas of Ojén to the east, Monda to the north, Istán to the west and Marbella to the south.

Sierra Blanca was part of the Serranía de Ronda’s National Hunting Reserve, currently belonging to the Natura 2000 network. In 2015, Sierra Blanca was included in the ZEC (zone of special conservation) management plan with code (ES6170011). It contains an Andalusian Reference Centre for the mountain goats and the former palace of the Marquises of Larios, today called Juanar Refuge.

Sierra Blanca y Canucha is what the coastal Sierra is called Located in the Penibaetic System, was formed during the Triassic geological period. It is formed of limestone with a nucleus composed of alpujárride marble, with strong elevations that exceed 1,200 m.

The highest peak is located in Sierra Blanca, at the Cerro del Lastonar, which has an elevation above sea level of 1,279 m. It is followed by the Salto del Lobo with 1,229 m (1,206 m), the renowned Pico de la Concha with 1,215 m, and the Cruz de Juanar with 1184 m.

In Sierra Canucha its highest elevation is the Pico de los Castillejos, with a height of 1,232m, followed by los Cuchillos with different heights between 1,222m and 1,214m, and the Alto de Canucha with 1,146m.

Two important orographic accidents must be highlighted: one is the Llanos de Juanar (the olive grove) with an average height of around 850 m and the second is the Llanos de Puzla at an average height of 500 m. In the southern area of Sierra Blanca, the travertine pit de Puerto Rico, Los Monjes, Camojan and Nagueles also stand out with their forests.

Hydrography

This area stands out for its innumerable streams and fountains. In order of appearance: Arroyo del Cura, Arroyo Nagüeles, Arroyo de las Piedras, Arroyo Guadalpín, Arroyo Castaño, Manantial de Puerto Rico, Arroyo del Puerto, Arroyo de Tajo Negro, Fuente del Chorrillo, Manantial de Almadán, Arroyo Juanar, Fuente el Pozuelo, Arroyo Granadilla, Fuente de la Cierva, Arroyo del Alta, Arroyo de la Cañada del Infierno, Arroyo del Castaño, Arroyo Río Molino, Arroyo de García, Arroyo de Castillejos, Arroyo de Monchalban.

Climate and Temperature

This area stands out for its innumerable streams and fountains. In order of appearance: Arroyo del Cura, Arroyo Nagüeles, Arroyo de las Piedras, Arroyo Guadalpín, Arroyo Castaño, Manantial de Puerto Rico, Arroyo del Puerto, Arroyo de Tajo Negro, Fuente del Chorrillo, Manantial de Almadán, Arroyo Juanar, Fuente el Pozuelo, Arroyo Granadilla, Fuente de la Cierva, Arroyo del Alta, Arroyo de la Cañada del Infierno, Arroyo del Castaño, Arroyo Río Molino, Arroyo de García, Arroyo de Castillejos, Arroyo de Monchalban.

History

The first traces of human settlements in the shelters and caves of our Sierras date back to the Upper Paleolithic era, as evidenced by the different archaeological remains found in Puerto Rico, the Pecho Redondo cave, the Palomina cave and the Nagüeles cave. Remains from later times, such as the Neolithic period, also exist. Other Mediterranean peoples left their mark on the area, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and finally Christians.

Biodiversity

This area stands out for its innumerable streams and fountains. In order of appearance: Arroyo del Cura, Arroyo Nagüeles, Arroyo de las Piedras, Arroyo Guadalpín, Arroyo Castaño, Manantial de Puerto Rico, Arroyo del Puerto, Arroyo de Tajo Negro, Fuente del Chorrillo, Manantial de Almadán, Arroyo Juanar, Fuente el Pozuelo, Arroyo Granadilla, Fuente de la Cierva, Arroyo del Alta, Arroyo de la Cañada del Infierno, Arroyo del Castaño, Arroyo Río Molino, Arroyo de García, Arroyo de Castillejos, Arroyo de Monchalban.

Climate and Temperature

These Sierras are characterised by having a rather mild climate thanks to the influence that the Strait of Gibraltar has on them, as it provides large masses of Atlantic humid air that, together with sea currents, make temperatures very stable, with an average of 17ºC that rarely falls below 0ºC in winter and rarely reaches 40ºC in the summer.

History

The first traces of human settlements in the shelters and caves of our Sierras date back to the Upper Paleolithic era, as evidenced by the different archaeological remains found in Puerto Rico, the Pecho Redondo cave, the Palomina cave and the Nagüeles cave. Remains from later times, such as the Neolithic period, also exist.

Other Mediterranean peoples left their mark on the area, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and finally Christians.

Biodiversity

Vegetation

The tree formation of Sierra Blanca y Canucha is the Mediterranean forest. The two predominant species are the Cork oak (Quercus suber) and the Holm oak (Quercus ilex rotundifolia). A symbolic species to highlight is the Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo Boiss). This fir is a survivor of the tertiary era (glaciation) and a descendant of the silver fir. It can be found on the north, wet side of the sierra.

There are many plant species that are more abundant depending on the composition of the soil and the height at which they are found. These include cherries (Prunus Avium), Valencian oaks (Quercus faginea),  maritime pines (Pinus pinastre), Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis), Monterey pines (Pinus radiata), carobs (Ceratonia siliqua), Osyris (Osyris alba), common myrtle (Mytus communis), Laurustinus (Viburnum), wild-olive (Olea Europea var sylvestris), black hawthorn (Rhamnus oleoides), phillyrea (Phillyrea angustifolia), European fan palms (Chamaerops humilis), kermes oaks (Quercus coccifera), gum rockrose (Cistus Ladanifer), Cistus clusii, grey-leaved cistus (Cistus aldibus), Erica multiflora, field roses (Rosa arvensis), savin juniper (juniperus sabina), Spanish lavender (lavandula stoechas), oregano (Origanum vulgare), thyme (Thymus), lentisk (Pistacia lenticus), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), turpentine trees (Pistacia terebithus), cade juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), Phoenician jupiter (Juniperus phoenicea), elmleaf blackberry (Rubus ulmifolius), oleander (Nerium oleander), intermediate periwinkle (Vinca difformis), etc.

The 23 endemic orchid species must also be highlighted, many of these being found in Los Llanos de Puzla, at the foot of Sierra Canucha.

Fauna

Sierra Blanca y Canucha have very varied fauna, surprising both natives and outsiders with their variety and importance. Amongst mammals, the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) reigns as queen. The European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) can be seen sporadically on the the boundaries between the forest of Bornoque and the Sierra Canucha. There is also the common genet (Genetta genetta), Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichnneumon), least weasel (Mustela nivalis), European badger (Meles meles), red fox (Culpes vilpes), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), beech marten (Martes foina), wildcat (Felis sylvestris), wood mouse (Apodemos silvaticus), European rabbit (oryctolagus cuniculus), pine vole (Pytymys duodecimcostatus), garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus), common bat (Pipistrellus) and several other species of bats, greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula), European hedgehog (Erinaceus Europeaus).

It is possible to see different birds of prey such as: Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s eagles (Aquila fascista), booted eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus), short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus), common buzzards (Buteo buteo), Northern goshawks (Accipiter gentiles), Eurasian sparrowhawks (Accipiter nusus), Peregrine falcons (Falcon peregrinu), tawny owls (Strix aluco), Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo Bubo), etc.

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