Río Eo, Osco y Terras de Burón Biosphere Reserve

Río Eo, Osco y Terras de Burón Biosphere Reserve

The Río Eo, Osco y Terras de Burón Biosphere Reserve covers both the regions of Galicia and Asturias and aims to protect the unique environment of the Eo river and its estuary between Ribadeo (Galicia) and Castropol (Asturias), in particular its wetlands. Within its 160,000 hectares the reserves authority also protects the biodiversity and bird populations of the rivers Oscos and Terras de Burón. The reserve also covers extensive areas of the river basins of the Navia, Porcía and Miño rivers that run into the Cantabrian Sea.

It is the numerous rivers in the region that have given Galicia the name of ‘nation of a thousand rivers’ and with the use of dams it is able to produce twice the electricity it requires. But the wildlife and its habitat have suffered as a result which is why this reserve was created in 2007. The reserves visitor centre is located in the traditional and picturesque town of Ribadeo.

The Río Eo, Osco y Terras de Burón Biosphere Reserve offers much in the way of contrasting scenery, from the tree covered mountain regions, through beautiful woods and river valleys to the magnificent beaches such as Las Catedrales. The areas many rivers and the Eo estuary are excellent for fishing for salmon, eel, lamprey and allis. In addition to its many natural beauties Galicia has a fine example of a Roman wall in its capital city Lugo.

North of Lugo is also the beautiful Reserve Terras do Mino that protects the specialist aquatic flora and fauna in its wetlands and around its river islands. These remote and delicate ecosystems of the small lakes integrate seamlessly with the traditional rural landscape.

The famous St James Way crosses this territory and offers a plethora of cafes and restaurant where you can enjoy the areas well-known shellfish and fish cuisine. Walking in the area of the Natural Monument of Los Ancares allows one to admire inaccessible mountain peaks, explore deep rich valleys with their native oak, willow and holly forests. There are a wide variety of route to suit all levels of experience.

The woods and hillsides are rich in flora with its wide variety of trees including alder, ash, blueberries and yew. The fauna of the reserve is extensive with many birds, falcons, birds of prey, small mammals, deer and brown bears amongst its inhabitants.

Along the one of the oldest pilgrimage paths to Santiago you can visit the Casa Da Bastida an ideal location for numerous trekking routes. It was built in the fourteenth century and sits amongst the stunning valleys, which are crisscrossed by an abundance of rivers rich in Celtic and Roman history.


The reserve also offers the Seimeria Road route, an eight-mile circular route. It starts at Pumares passing forests of alder, ash hazel and willow as it continues through the ‘Valley of Exile’ with its abandoned buildings in Ancadeira onto the waterfall, Seimeira, up to the returning hill village of Busqueimado, which represents the mid point and your return reverses the path you’ve just walked. Whilst in Busqueimado you can visit the village chapel that is dedicated to San Pedro and its ancient and impressive pair yew trees.

A longer and more challenging circular route is the Coba Road (P.R. AS-153), also known as Santa Eulalia de Oscos, which takes about five hours to complete. The route begins in the narrow streets of the picturesque village of Ferreira and then ascends Nonide through the Agüeira river canyon and the mixed chestnut, birch and oak forests. On the descent are the fascinating circular stone structures known as ‘curtains’, which protect the hives from attacks from the local wildlife and fire. Continuing along the route you reach the part of the river known as ‘Get a Coba’ where locals and visitors often take a bath before taking the final section of the route. On this part of the route the forests are replaced with small tree groves amongst the broom, gorse and heather of the mountain hillsides.

Animals & Birds
The diverse countryside and terrain are home to a wide variety of fauna from the bears, foxes and martens to grouse, eagles and hawks. The extensive network of forests provides several varieties of deer with the ideal habitat and its rivers provide the perfect environment for the otter and wild Atlantic salmon.

This three-river reserve offers the bear some of its favourite food from the salmon in the rivers to the berries, honey and small animals from the forests. Other predators within the forests are the protected wild cats and the foxes, which hunt mainly at night. Another nocturnal creature of the rocky outcrops and forests is the marten whose small sharp snout is ideal for detecting the insects, birds’ eggs, frogs and fruit it favours.

The extensive forest network within the reserve provides the ideal hunting ground for the several birds of prey. With the Goshawk’s amazing eyesight and shorter rounded wings giving greater mobility to fly expertly through wooded areas it is a formidable predator.

The mountains provide the perfect hunting ground for the majestic eagles and the formidable peregrine falcon. Both these birds can be seen high in the skies patrolling for food. The most spectacular acrobatic flights are offered by the peregrine with its aerial feeding of its mate during the breeding season and its rapid dives and strikes when catching its prey.

The rich river pastures are also home to the larger herds of deer and the smaller groups of chamois. The latter can also be seen in the rocky mountain regions as their specially adapted hooves enable them to easily manage the rugged and icy terrain at this altitude. Their short backward curved horns that look like a couple of hooks make identification of them easier.

The ground nesting Capercaillie, more commonly known as a grouse, is a native bird of this region and has been protected since 1986. The network of natural parks in the provinces of Asturias and Galicia whose hectare coverage has increased over the last few decades aims to preserve the type of habitat these birds require for their numbers to increase.

The oak forests within the reserve provide the ideal environment for the wild boar. It offers plenty of opportunities for the boar to forage for its favourite food of acorns and truffles on the forest floor. It is also happy to live amongst the lower levels of the mountains amongst the gorse and brambles. They are not a particularly territorial animal and regularly travel the same paths in search of food through the forest.

The biodiversity of the Río Eo, Osco y Terras de Burón reserve is extensive with its cliff top forests of laurel and willow; its oak woods on the mountainsides and along the coast and finally its rich oak and holly woods besides it luxuriant rivers.

The Nonide heights are covered with a variety of heather, as well as the more common gorse and broom. These habitats gradually become engulfed with forests of chestnut, birch and oak trees, then it merges with the fast flowing Agüeira river canyon, which eventually flows into the mouth of the Navia river.

From the village of Becerreá, down towards the port of Cebreiro and Ambasmestas Piedrafita there is a great assortment of flora to be seen. There is the birch, hazel, oak, holly and yew trees that make up the woodlands in this area. Then the alder, ash and popular, along with the brush of heather, broom and blueberries populate the lower levels. 
An excellent example of specialist plants and fungi adapted for surviving in waterfalls can be seen at Seimeira which has a drop of nearly thirty meters.


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