The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation, Unesco, has added the Axarquía's dry stone walls onto its list of the world's intangible heritage of humanity, under the title, "Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques".
A further eight Spanish regions have also been added to the same list: Aragón, Asturias, Balearics, Canaries, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia and Valencia, as well as seven other European countries (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland).
The UN cultural organisation said in a statement that the art had been included on the list because "these structures don't harm the environment and are an example of harmony between human beings and nature".
The centuries-old tradition of dry-stone walling is still used in the Axarquía to prevent erosion and landslides on hillsides used for the cultivation of traditional crops, including olives, grapes and cereals, but is, according to environmental association, Gena-Ecologistas en Acción, a dying tradition.
The subtropical fruit growing sector does not use dry stone walls, which, according to the environmentalists, collect rainwater more effectively and provide a natural irrigation system.