Fuerteventura: biosphere nature reserve

Fuerteventura is one of the most beautiful and untouched islands of the Canary archipelago. In 2009, UNESCO declared the island a biosphere reserve to conserve this magnificent natural environment. In the article we explain how and why the local government is doing everything to preserve a heritage rich in biodiversity which is an integral part of Canarian culture. The territory in question extends over more than 800 km2 between FUERTEVENTURA AND LANZAROTE where anthropic interventions are prohibited: agricultural gardens, mining excavations, tourist facilities, etc.


How and why the local government decided to create a biosphere reserve in Fuerteventura.

Thegovernment took the decision to establish a Biosphere Nature Reserve on the island in 1997. The reserve covers an area of approximately 7,500 hectares, which includes a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, plateaus, marshes and lagoons. The government made this decision for several reasons. First of all we wanted to preserve the biodiversity of the island. The island is a unique place and is home to a variety of plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Furthermore, the island is also an important sanctuary for bird migration from Africa to Europe, especially for waterfowl. Therefore, establishing the reserve was a way to ensure that these species remained protected. Second, the government also wanted to preserve the island’s habitat from other activities that could harm it. This includes agriculture, the tourism industry and other industrial developments that could negatively impact the ecosystem. By ensuring the protection of the area through the Biosphere Nature Reserve, efforts have been made to prevent such unsustainable activities from damaging the ecosystem of the island.

Finally, by establishing the Biosphere Nature Reserve, the government also wanted to promote sustainable development on the island. Local communities have been encouraged to develop their economies with activities that are compatible with nature conservation. By stimulating these sustainable activities, the government has helped create more economic opportunities for the people living on the island. For all these reasons, the government decided to create the Fuerteventura Biosphere Nature Reserve to ensure that the island’s habitat and biodiversity are protected in the long term and that local communities have access to sustainable economic opportunities.

Important species to protect in the FUERTEVENTURA reserve

 Fuerteventura Nature Reserve offers a unique habitat for many animals and plants that have adapted to the environment of the Canary Islands. The biodiversity richness of the reserve has been recognized by UNESCO and the reserve has been declared a World Heritage Site. The management of the reserve has put natural conservation and the establishment of balanced relationships with the environment, fauna and flora found in the reserve in the first place. Their goal is to protect all living organisms present in the reserve to ensure that their environment is sustainable in the long run.

The Fuerteventura falcon

One of the most iconic animals found in the reserve is the Fuerteventura falcon, a unique bird of prey. The Fuerteventura falcon is an animal of great beauty and is recognizable by its white and gray coat with red spots on the head and chest. The falcon also has a pair of very large wings that allow it to fly at high speeds and great distances. Experts have estimated that the entire population of Fuerteventura falcons does not exceed 200 specimens and that the falcon’s ideal habitat is limited to the Fuerteventura Nature Reserve, making it vulnerable to extreme events such as drought or floods. The management of the reserve has implemented programs to monitor, protect and expand the habitat of the falcon, with the aim of increasing the number of specimens present in the reserve.

The canary wild rabbit

Another specimen found in the reserve is the Canarian wild rabbit, a terrestrial mammal that is part of the Leporidae family. This little animal has a compact body consistency with brown and gray fur and its dimensions are rather small (about 30 cm in length). The Canarian wild rabbit lives in groups of 10-20 individuals who take up residence in a hole dug in the earth. The species is endemic to Fuerteventura and is classified as endangered due to human pressures, such as soil depletion, destruction of natural habitats and commercial hunting. The management of the reserve has taken concrete actions to preserve this species, such as the establishment of fenced areas within the reserve where the animals can live without any danger.

Cactus cardon

Another rare specimen, and important to protect, is the monstrous cardon cactus, a large succulent cactus that can reach heights of even more than 10 meters. The cardon is native to the Canary Islands and is the largest cactus in the world: it has up to 30 powerful branches and is between 20-30 cm thick. The Fuerteventura Nature Reserve has played a fundamental role in the conservation and preservation of this species as a very strong and evolved genetic group is found here. The management of the reserve has promoted projects aimed at improving the conditions of the cardon within the protected area through targeted interventions such as the removal of overgrown weeds and the implementation of programs to combat parasites.

Finally, another specimen to be protected within the Fuerteventura Nature Reserve is the beautiful pink flamingo. This elegant flyer is found only in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea and is rarely seen off the coast of the Canary Islands. The global population of the pink flamingo does not exceed 40,000 units and has been classified as endangered due to marine pollution, improper exploitation of coastal areas and illegal poaching. To preserve this species, the management of the Nature Reserve has set up marine parks inside, aimed at protecting the pink flamingo from both predators such as humans and other degrading instruments.

The Fuerteventura Nature Reserve is home to numerous animal species that must be protected from extinction and safeguarded from anthropic pressures that could damage them irreparably. Thanks to the efforts of the management of the reserve and collaborating partner institutions, programs have been promoted which have led to the creation of secondary parks and protected areas where animals can live in peace and without fear of extinction.

Fuerteventura, Parque natural de Jandia
Parque Natural de Jandia, Fuerteventura

Future steps to be taken in the Fuerteventura Biosphere Reserve.

To keep its ecological characteristics intact and allow the public to enjoy them, the conservation of the island’s natural heritage is a priority. To ensure this commitment, the Commission on Biosphere Reserves has approved the following strategy:


1. Environmental quality monitoring:

t is essential to monitor the impact of climate change on flora, ecosystems and wildlife, to better understand how they are changing. This requires expert collection of environmental data at various levels, from water quality analyzes to wildlife studies. The results must then be used to make decisions at the local level to reduce the negative effects of climate change.

2. Retention program:

Conservation is essential to preserve the delicate ecosystems of the Biosphere Reserve. For this reason, there is a need for a conservation program that involves local communities in creating long-term conservation projects that protect vital habitats and promote biological diversity.

3. Scientific Research:

The study and scientific analysis of the natural heritage of the Biosphere Reserve are essential for keeping track of the effects on natural ecosystems. Scientists can study wildlife, plant populations and human impacts to get a deeper picture of what is happening in the ecosystem. Such studies can provide valuable information for conservation and management programs for natural environments.

4. Asset Management:

The sustainable management of natural resources is essential to preserve biodiversity and general health in the Biosphere Reserve. The responsible management of resources, such as water, soil and flora, requires the creation of programs to ensure sustainable use of resources without compromising the integrity of the natural heritage of the protected area.

5. Ecological Education:

Ecological education is essential to ensure that the public understands the reasons that make the conservation of the natural heritage of the Biosphere Reserve so important. Educational opportunities must be provided for local residents and visitors to learn about and respect the ecosystem in which they live or visit.

6. Promotion of sustainable tourism:

Sustainable tourism can contribute to natural heritage conservation through educated activities such as bird watching, snorkelling or hiking, which raise public awareness of the importance of conservation and encourage responsible land use by guests.

7. Implementation of environmental policies:

For all these projects to be implemented successfully, it is necessary to take appropriate political measures regulating land use in order to preserve its ecological integrity and the wild species that inhabit it. These steps are essentially the first step towards a sustainable future within the Fuerteventura Nature Reserve. It is important to understand that success also depends on the constant commitment by the local government, international organizations, scientists and also by the citizens themselves who must do their part by contributing to the conservation of the unique and uncontaminated protected area that represents the archipelago canary.

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