The beautiful mountain region is popular with nature lovers. :: SUR
There has been a generally positive response from mayors of the 12 municipalities in the Sierra de las Nieves to a proposal that an application be made for the area to become a National Park.
Officials from the Junta de Andalucía’s Department of the Environment met with the mayors on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, which the regional government says would be positive for the environment, tourism, the economy of the area and its promotion. It would also help to prevent depopulation of the villages in this inland region.
The move would require the approval of the government and Parliament, but it would mean that the Sierra de las Nieves, part of which is already classified as an International Biosphere Reserve, would become the third National Park in Andalucía after Doñana and Sierra Nevada.
The municipalities that would be affected by this proposal are Alozaina, Benahavís, Casarabonela, El Burgo, Guaro, Istán, Monda, Ojén, Parauta, Ronda, Tolox and Yunquera. The total designated area covers 18,000 hectares, of which 16,500 are publicly owned (by the Junta de Andalucía, local councils and the State).
The mayor of Alozaina, Antonio Pérez, who is also the president of the Mancomunidad de Municipios of the Sierra de las Nieves, home to the rare ‘pinsapo’ tree, says he can see no disadvantages to the proposal to declare the area a National Park.
“From an economic point of view, green tourism, maintaining the population... for the ecosystem and the park, this would only bring benefits. There will be more money from the Junta and from the State and European Funds. It is very good news for Malaga province and for Andalucía,” he said.
Others are more cautious. José Antonio Víquez, the mayor of Yunquera, has expressed concern that this would mean restrictions on people accessing the park, while the mayor of Parauta, María del Carmen Gutiérrez, says she thinks the idea is good as long as it is accompanied by improvements to infrastructure and the quality of life of those who live in the area.
The president of the provincial government, Elías Bendodo, is in favour of the proposal, but says it needs the backing of all the local authorities in the area and that the villages must be assisted to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.