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Enjoy nature with 100% responsible tourism

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Spain has more biosphere reserves than any other country in the world

On holiday in Spain, you can enjoy nature with environmentally friendly activities and tourism. There are many protected natural spaces known for their sustainable tourism options.

RESPONSIBLE TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Starlight reservesClear skies, no light pollution, and the facilities you need to enjoy an unusual evening discovering the constellations. This is the 100% sustainable holiday experience on offer in some of the world’s best astrotourism locations. You can find more information in this articleCattle migration pathsThese are the routes used for centuries by Spanish shepherds and cattle herders moving their herds between their summer and winter pastures - known as Trashumancia. Some of these routes are now marked and adapted for hiking and cycling, and run through beautiful scenery. For example, you can follow them through the Sierra de Gredos (Ávila) or the Trashumancia route of the Catalan Pyrenees (Lleida).

Starry night in Bayona

Former railway tracks for walking in natureKnown as Greenways or Vías Verdes, these are abandoned railway lines that have been adapted for hiking and cycling in natural surroundings. Spain has a total of more than 2600 kilometres of Greenways.These paths are a good example of restoring the environment, and on some you can see rare animals, such as bears. This is the case of the Senda del Oso (Bear Path) in Asturias, where the bear Paca lives in the hills. He was rescued as a cub and now lives on a nearby mountain, and every day he comes down to be fed (around 12 noon) in a part of the path near Proaza. 

Bears on the Bear Path, Asturias

Visit unique, ancient olive treesVirgin olive oil is an ancient agricultural tradition in Spain. As well as tasting the oil, you can visit numerous almazaras (olive oil mills) and vast olive groves. You can even discover some well-known unique olive trees and marvel at their size (you need more than four people to encircle their trunk). For example, in Jaén (Andalusia) there are guided tours to see hundred-year-old olive trees in places like Martos; in Catalonia they are organised in Ulldecona (Tarragona), and the Valencia region boasts thousand-year-old olive trees in Canet Lo Roig (Castellón). 

An ancient olive tree

Save Posidonia ProjectFormentera has a festival with a plethora of fund-raising activities to benefit conservation projects in the sea floor around the Balearic Islands. It takes place in October, and includes exhibitions, sports, awareness-raising workshops, and more. The money raised goes to protect the meadows of Posidonia oceanica on the sea floor, which are home to many marine species. You can even sponsor a meadow. 

NATURE RESERVES YOU CAN VISIT

The protected natural spaces of Spain include four types with outstanding sustainable tourism options.There are 15 National Parks, all with scheduled tours, footpaths and visitor centres. Four of them are also UNESCO World Heritage sites. These are Doñana National Park (in Andalusia), Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park (in Aragon) and the National Parks of Garajonay and the Teide (in the Canary Islands). When planning a visit, remember that you need to book some of them in advance, or you need to get permits for certain activities. You can consult the conditions on the Spanish National Parks website. 

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Aragon

Alternatively, there are almost 30 natural spaces accredited by the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism, a project backed by the European Commission.You can also visit 15 geoparks. They stand out for their unique landscapes and geological heritage, which you can read more about on their website. They also organise workshops and educational tours.Spain also has more biosphere reserves than any other country in the world. In total, it has 52 spaces with outstanding biodiversity. You can find excellent examples of the integration of sustainable tourism on the islands of Lanzarote, El Hierro, La Gomera and Fuerteventura, top-class tourist destinations that are also Biosphere Reserves. In fact, El Hierro is the first island to be self-sufficient in renewable energy. 

Macizo de Anaga, Tenerife