Campaigners call for Sierra Bermeja to be awarded national park status in wake of devastating wildfire

FOLLOWING the recent wildfire that ravaged nearly 10,000 hectares of the Sierra Bermeja mountains and the Genal Valley, there have been even louder calls for Sierra Bermeja to be included in the national park.

The campaign which has been going on since the sixties has gained more traction following the recent devastation. 

A petition created by the Monitoring Commission of the National Park of the Bermeja and Las Nieves Mountains requests the whole of Sierra Bermeja to be included within the Sierra de las Nieves National Park.

This currently has more than 71,000 signatures in support and this is continuing to grow daily. 

The group stated that the inclusion of Sierra Bermeja within the national park will not prevent future wildfires, however “it will mean more vigilance, more control, more resources for prevention and more speed in decision-making”. 

Although 36% of Sierra Bermeja is technically included within the Sierra de las Nieves national park, its western part which is deemed as the most valuable from an environmental point of view is not included.

This was also the part that suffered the most damage from the wildfires.

The protection of this area is particularly important to ecologists as it is home to the second largest outcrop of peridotites, toxic volcanic rocks which have in turn created a very unique ecosystem.

There are also many species that have adapted to these specific conditions including the famed abies pinsapo trees that only grow in three areas throughout the Andalusian highlands, in Cádiz and Malaga.

Many scientists have also spoken up about the lack of support for this movement and suggested that if this area had been included in the protected land, the level of devastation experienced last week could have been avoided or drastically reduced.

Andrés Pérez Latorre, professor of Botany at the University of Málaga reiterated that the area ” should have been included in the Sierra de las Nieves National Park”.

And Felipe Román a biologist and member of the group Ecologists in Action said that “Sierra Bermeja has been completely abandoned to its fate all its life”.

sierra bermeja cordon press
Firefighting aircraft battled to bring the blaze under control. Photo: Cordon Press.

These campaigns have been going on since 1966, after the famed pinsapo forest was placed at serious risk by a huge fire, the mayors of the region asked for Sierra Bermeja to be declared a National Park, to aid in its preservation. This proved unsuccessful, and since 2007 the wide range of institutions who have repeatedly requested such a declaration have also been refused.

The deadline for responses to the draft of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park Legislation was on Sunday, August 9 2020. Many allegations were presented against this draft law, relating to the exclusion of the 67.35% of the Sierras Bermeja and Real as well as the exclusion of the Rio Genal Valley.

The Sierra Bermeja National Park Platform also proposed a national park that would combine Sierra de las Nieves and Bermeja. Despite widespread social and scientific backing from local governments, the Costa del Sol Association of Municipalities, and the Malaga Provincial Council, neither the PSOE nor the PP endorsed this idea.

The regional and state authorities both stated that “it is time for the Sierra de las Nieves project, but as soon as the National Park is approved we will start working on extending it to the whole of Sierra Bermeja”.

Despite their prior commitment to this extension both parties have remained quiet about the issue, which has increased the urgency of this campaign.

People can sign the petition here


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