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«Pirineos-Monte Perdido»

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This will cross-reference all available documents in our data base related to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Montane zone (900-1,700 m)

Gall oak forests with a dry sub-Mediterranean character (Quercus pubescens - Quercus gr. faginea)

Gall oak forests are scattered about, preferring sheltered spots that are damper and cooler, which offer less favourable conditions for holm oak and box forests. Gall oaks can grow at altitudes of up to 1,300 m.

Such forests clearly mark the transitional strip between the Mediterranean and the Euro-Siberian environments.

This kind of woodland is common around the Añisclo and Escuaín gorges, occupying steeply sloping sites where other species of an Atlantic nature, such as beech, cannot grow well because the soil is too dry.

The most common species in the undergrowth is common box (Buxus sempervirens), together with hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Thymus serpyllum, snowy mespilus (Amelanchier ovalis), various species of maple and genista (Genista scorpious).
Pastures of Mediterranean influence

This type of pasture occupies small areas where humans have had or still have a considerable impact, as occurs in the area around the Añisclo Canyon and the villages of Escuaín and Revilla.

Here you can find a large number of Mediterranean species such as oregano (Origanum vulgare), Brachypodium phoenicoides, Teucrium chamaedrys and Onomis pusilla.

Most of these pastures have been abandoned and are being taken over by genista, (Genista scorpius), blackthorn (Prunas spinosa) and lavender (Lavandula latifolia).

Windy ridges with echinospartum (Echinospartum horridum)

There are ridges that delimit the canyons and gullies in many places in the protected site, such as the Crestas de Diazas ridges or the upper crest of Añisclo. This harsh environment of steep and stony mountainsides provides a habitat for echinospartum (Echinospartum horridum).

This plant, which cannot be confused with others because of its pillow-like form and thorns, has also taken over those areas that have been excessively grazed on sunny mountainsides, thus making the soil deeper and more fertile.

It is generally found alongside Paronichya serpyllifolia, Festuca indigesta, Saxifraga aizoon, Teucrium chamaedrys, etc.
Mesophile pine groves with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Scots pine forest is common in the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site. It prefers shady mountainsides at altitudes of between 1,000 and 1,700 m, the elevation corresponding to the upper montane zone or lower sub-Alpine zone.

Damp, mossy forests of Scots pine predominate on the slopes of the lower stretch of the Ordesa Valley, the upper part of the Escuaín gorge, extensive areas in the Vió Valley and on the sloping sides of Sestrales.

Scots pine is frequently found alongside gall oaks and beech trees, as occurs in the more open parts of the Añisclo Canyon.

The ground cover in these forests generally consists of moss and common box (Buxus sempervirens), providing a habitat for highly active micro-fauna that helps to break down the pine needles and ensures the fertility of the substrate.

There are various species that can be found in these forests, such as the anemone hepatica (Hepatica triloba), Oxalis acetosella, strawberry (Fragaria vesca), (Calluna vulgaris), Pyrola uniflora, Parnasia palustris and Aspidium lochitis.

In damper areas, shrubby beech trees grow alongside Scots pine, together with rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), holly (Ilex aquifolium) and aspen (Populas tremula).

Pine forest has quickly taken over vast slopes in the Escuaín area that were formerly used as grazing grounds for livestock. The speed and extent of this colonisation can clearly be seen by comparing photographs taken today with those taken by Lucien Briet in the early 20th century.
It is worth noting the existence of four Scots pines in the area on the path between

Revilla and Foraturruego known as Tozaleta de Bocera. The dendrochronological study carried out in 2002 by the Pyrenean Environmental Institute found that these trees are approximately 360 years old.

Mixed forest of linden (Tilia cordata), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), maple (Hacer sp.) hazelnut (Coryllus avellana), sorb (Sorbus sp.) and birch (Betula sp.) trees

Mixed forests of diverse species of trees grow at altitudes of between 900 and 1,400 m. These are typical of the floors and shady sides of canyons and gorges, where they tend to be concentrated due to the cool air and damp caused by the temperature inversion.

Stands of beech mixed with other species can also grow in similar areas, as occurs in the Bujaruelo, Ordesa, Pineta and Añisclo valleys.
Autumn is the best time for quickly identifying the diversity of species that may grow in a forest due to the change in the colour of their leaves. The effect of the temperature inversion typical of gorges can also be clearly seen, especially in the Escuaín Gorge and from the Revilla and Escuaín vantage points, as the varying colours of the forest in lower areas contrast with the dark green of the more thermophile species in higher spots.
Broad-leaved pubescent oaks (Quercus pubescens) are ousting the gall oak (Quercus faginea) in these areas.

Mesophile beech forests (Fagus sylvatica)

Beech forest grows at an elevation of between 1,200 and 1,600 m.
This is a transitional forest community between the mixed hygrophilic forests in the lower area of the mountains and those midway up.
It grows on mountainsides where there is greater environmental humidity but somewhat dry soil. Vast beech forests grow on the north slopes of the Monte Perdido massif, with a clear Atlantic influence, a good example being the Gavarnie Cirque.

Frequently found in Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín are mixed forests of Scots pine, gall oak and even holm oak.

The most Atlantic of the beech forests in the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site is the Hayas Forest in Ordesa, also known as the Fabar de l'Estrecho.
The species in beech forest undergrowth include common box (Buxus sempervirens), Mercurialis perennis, Hepatica triloba and Cephalanthera rubra.
Beech and fir forests (Fagus sylvatica-Abies alba)
Beech and fir are frequently associated in forests in the Pyrenean valleys with an evident Atlantic influence. The beech and fir forests in Bujaruelo, Ordesa and Pineta are especially notable.
Such forests occupy north-facing valley floors and mountainsides. As the Spanish adage says, "beech trees like a cool head and hot feet", whereas fir trees prefer a "hot head and cool feet" (LASAOSA Y ORTEGA, 2003).
Beech trees are commonly opportunistic in their behaviour, in that they colonise clearings in other forests. In contrast, fir trees benefit from the shade cast by other trees and once established tend to oust them.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium), hazelnut (Corylus avellana), Oxalis acetosella and Salix caprea are just some of the species to be found in the undergrowth in beech and fir forests.