Sierra do Caurel

Sierra del Caurel

The Sierra del Caurel, also known as Serra do Courel in Galician, is an outstanding mountainous enclave located in the southeast of the province of Lugo, in the autonomous community of Galicia. It covers an area of approximately 21,020 hectares and is distributed mainly in the municipalities of the Caurel region, among which the following stand out Folgoso do Courel, Quiroga y Pedrafita do Cebreiro.

With a topography that ranges from 400-500 metres above sea level in the valley of the río Lor and peaks reaching altitudes of over 1600 metres, such as Montouto, Formigueiros (1643 m) or the peak of Pía Páxaro (1610 m), the Sierra del Caurel presents a diversity of ecosystems that make it the most important botanical reserve in Galicia. The valleys formed by the river Lor and its tributaries are home to a rich variety of flora, the Devesa da Rogueira being its greatest natural treasure.

This autochthonous forest is home to numerous plant species typical of Galicia, including chestnut trees, holly, beech, yew, oak, birch and wild orchids. In addition, the region exhibits an interesting combination of species more closely linked to the Mediterranean climate, such as holm oaks, cork oaks and even olive trees, some of which are also found in the Devesa da Rogueira.

In terms of fauna, the Sierra del Caurel is considered a secondary area for Cantabrian fauna. Despite the disappearance during the 20th century of emblematic species such as the wolf and the bear, there are still sporadic visits of these species to the region. Attempts are being made to reintroduce birds typical of the Cantabrian area, with varying results. As far as aquatic fauna is concerned, the quality of the region's waters allows the breeding of white trout.

The geography of the Sierra del Caurel is closely linked to its history. For example, the peak of Pía Paxaro is named after the discovery of a metallic eagle from the Roman Imperial period on its summit. Although archaeological remains are scarce due to its location away from the main Roman trade routes, ancient gold mining operations have been documented and ethnologically relevant elements have been preserved, such as the pallozas. There are also still some old wooden bridges that cross the rivers, which should be restored for their preservation.