Fauna und Flora
For centuries, the flora of the Canary Islands has captured the interest of specialists from all over the world.
Canarian flora is unique in the world as these plant species became already extinct in the other areas of origin during the ice age.
While approximately five hundred of the plant species on Gran Canaria are also found on the other islands, there are more than a hundred species that grow only on Gran Canaria. Consequently, this island has become a point of reference for the study of the planet’s flora, which explains why people affirm that Gran Canaria is to botany what the Galapagos islands are to zoology.
Visitors who want to start discovering this unique world should not miss the opportunity to visit the “Viera y Clavijo” Botanical Garden, as well as the various pine forests, the extensive palm tree groves and the laurisilva (humid laurel trees) forest in Los Tiles de Moya, which is one of the last remnants of laurisilva in the world.
The terrestrial fauna of the Island is characterised by the absence of big vertebrates and harmful species.
Birds and reptiles are the most numerous species of Gran Canaria wildlife. Among the vertebrates we have the Canary Island lizard – endemic of the island and whose abundance is overwhelming-, the Gran Canaria skink, Boettger’s Canary wall gecko and Osorio shrew.
Birds have the biggest representation in the Island’s wildlife population: specifically, 48 species including the nesting birds of this island, with endemic birds such as great spotted woodpeckers, robins and the blue chaffinch, the latter in the pine forests of Pilancones-Inagua. The canary bird deserves a separate mention due to its symbolic establishment that relates it both to the Canary Islands and to Gran Canaria in particular. The interesting thing about this bird, with a great singing ability, is that it was bred through crossbreeding with other species, thus producing a great variety. Besides, the Island is a resting place for many of the migrating birds.
We can point out Cory’s shearwater of the birds included in the marine and nesting species.
The marine fauna of Gran Canaria is very rich and diversified in species, and this
peculiarity is a result of the environmental diversity and the geographical situation of the island. One of the distinct features of the marine settlements of the waters of Gran Canaria is the coexistence of species such as pelagic fish and turtles.
The Caretta Caretta species is conspicuously the most common of the family turtles. These species coexist with rays, manta rays, stingrays and angel sharks, swordfishes, big tuna fish or coastal species such as white seabreams, parrot -fishes, goldlines, saddled seabreams, pompanoes, groupers, blacktail combers, john dories or pollacks. Within the mammals that are found in the waters of Gran Canaria are common dolphins, bottlenosed dolphins and whales.
Gran Canaria is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
The Biosphere Reserve zonation is based on the criteria of the Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and with the aim to respond to the aims and objectives of the Seville Strategy. The aim is to extend the Biosphere Reserve in the future to incorporate the whole island or to enlarge it compared to the present zonation. The Biosphere Reserve covers approximately a third of the island and includes several natural protected areas and monuments. The area includes totally or partially several municipalities as well as a marine zone. The Biosphere Reserve is established around the Natural Reserve of Inagua, which is designated as a core area together with the Reserva Natural Especial de Güigüí. These areas have
the necessary dimensions and ecological characters to accomplish the functions of a core area. The core areas are surrounded by a common buffer zone (Parque Rural de El Nublo) and transition areas. The Natural Parks of Tamadaba and Pilancones, as well as other natural monuments and landscapes, are included in the transition areas and provide geographical continuity. A transition area is also established at the contact point between the core area, the buffer zones, and the sea. The marine area has been designated on the one hand as a large transition area to promote activities compatible with the conservation of the territory such as artisanal fishery. On the other hand, the area has been established to surround the terrestrial core area of the Reserva Natural Especial del Güigüí and thus to protect the coastal cliffs that possess a large number of protected and endemic species of flora and fauna, both Macaronesian species and species exclusive of the Canary Islands.
In recent years, different specific programmes have been developed and co-financed with the European Commission through the LIFE project (Conservation of blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), endangered flora, invasive vertebrate species, evaluation of the ecological impact of whale-watching). There are also permanent forests monitoring plots for the analysis of the state of the forests
Source and more Information: Unesco.org