The central government has given the green light to the proposal put forward by the Junta de Andalucía to declare the Sierra de las Nieves a national park, the highest level of protection given to areas of environmental importance in Spain.
The area, located inland from the Costa del Sol towards Ronda, will be the 16th area with national park status in Spain and the third in Andalucía, after the Sierra Nevada and Doñana. The Sierra de las Nieves has until now been protected as a 'parque natural' and a Unesco biosphere reserve.
The approval given at last Friday's cabinet meeting in Madrid, will mean greater investment in nature conservation as well as the protection the area's traditions.
There is still a further administrative process to get through before the park starts to reap the benefits. The decision made by the cabinet now has to go through a public information period and analysis before it can be finally turned into a law with the approval of both houses of parliament, the Congreso and the Senado.
The campaign to protect the Sierra de las Nieves dates back to 1934. However, it wasn't until 1989 that it was officially designated a 'natural park' and in 1995 it became a biosphere reserve.
The area to be protected covers 23,000 hectares across parts of the municipalities of Yunquera, Tolox, Ronda, Parauta, Istán and Benahavís.
Its flora includes the largest numbers of pinsapo firs in Spain, as well as gall oaks, holm oaks and other Mediterranean species.
The park is the natural habitat of numerous species of birds such as the golden eagle, Bonnelli's eagle, peregrine falcon and the Eurasian eagle-owl, among others, as well as the Iberian ibex.
Meanwhile the campaign continues to include the Sierra Bermeja mountains, closer to Estepona, in the area protected as a national park.