Monday, December 31, 2012

Why this Blog about the Cantabrian Mountains?

                                                                                                                                                           IN HET NEDERLANDS

I have doubted really a long time before I finally decided to start this blog. Why? The Cantabrian Mountains are a relatively unspoiled mountainous area, where century long human activities have created a more or less stable equilibrium with nature instead of its destruction. For the last decades the local population has declined sharply which has led to a swift in this equilibrium to a greater inaccessibility, which could be beneficial or not, depending of the point of view and the concerning species. Also the creation of several natural parks should benefit the local wildlife.
These mountains have almost everything a mountain can offer, they are wild, with abrupt height differences, very diversified and at the same time relatively good accessible. Where in Western Europe can you find brown bears, wolfs, golden eagles, griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures and western capercailles together with lots of other emblematic animals like Pyrenean desmans, genets, Pyrenean chamois, white storks and more than 20 species of birds of prey? Also the wild flowers are just unbelievable, of which, in my personal opinion, the around 60 species of orchids are a very good example.

But there are threats.
One of the problems is the ignorance of the common people to the incredible natural wealth which surrounds them. For instance, a large field of lizard orchids, with hundreds of adult individuals, was destroyed because nobody even knew of their existence or ecologic value, also there are thousands of orchids which are mowed each year along the roads. It is difficult to blame these people because they are not botanists and they generally have little affinity with just some flowers. Another problem is the killing on purpose with poisoned bait of animals which are considered to be harmful like wolfs or birds of prey.
Also there are large-scale problems like the intentions of construction of a high voltage powerline right through the Cantabrian Mountains and a winter sports resort.
Most threats have an economic motif and this is the reason why the environmental awareness only awakens when there is some direct gain.

My little grain.
With this blog I try to diffuse the big and small wonders of these marvellous mountains. By no means, I want to contribute to convert this place into a mass tourism destiny, but at my wanderings and rambles very few times I encounter other walkers. Compared to the Pyrenees or the Alps the foreign tourism is practically inexistent and therefore some high quality environmental conscious tourism might be very welcome. Not in the least, as stated above, because this may activate a greater (local) governmental interest in protecting these mountains and a greater commitment of the local people. In general I will not give the exact location of rare or vulnerable plants, animals or geologic sites, but I think that descriptions of their habitats are useful because they might encourage the desire to find those species yourself. And it is a general fact that something which has cost you a lot of effort, earns your appreciation and maybe the desire to protect it.

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