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Teide National Park

Teide National Park

The Teide National Park, whose WDPA code is: 389013, is a park in Spain which occupies the highest part of the island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands region.
This park was established in 1954 and is the largest and oldest national park in the Canaries.
Its total area, after various expansions, is 18,990 hectares.
The Teide National Park, due to its geographical and ecological characteristics, is the most visited in Europe and one of the most visited in the world.
Furthermore, the Teide National Park has a large historical value as this area had an important spiritual significance for the Guanches, the ancient indigenous peoples of the archipelago. There are significant archaeological sites in the park.
In 1989 the National Park was awarded the European Diploma in the highest category by the Council of Europe. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its transformation into a National Park, the park was nominated for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which took place on June 28, 2007.

Geography –
The Teide National Park extends over an area that fluctuates, in altitude, between 2,000 m a.s.l. and the 3,718m which corresponds to the summit of Teide, a volcano which with its height above sea level (and about 7,500m above the oceanic shelf) is the highest peak in Spain and also the highest mountain on the islands in the Atlantic Ocean ; it is also the third highest volcano in the world from its base, after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1798, the last eruption took place which formed the so-called “Nostrils of Teide”; the eruption led to the expulsion of 12 million cubic meters of lava, up to Pico Viejo.
Geologically, the territory is formed by two large depressions, las Cañadas del Teide, divided by a suggestive rocky alignment: Los Roques de García; the two depressions form a caldera of about 17 km in diameter on which Pico del Teide and Pico Viejo rest.
In the volcano area there are numerous lava flows which, together with the mountain and the volcanoes scattered throughout the park, form a characteristic landscape. The Alto de Gujara, the Llano Ucanca, the Roques de Garcia and Pico Viejo are important examples that characterize the natural landscape.
From an ecological point of view, the Teide National Park has 11 habitats of Community interest.

Climate –
The Teide National Park area is characterized by a subtropical oceanic climate on the coasts, i.e. very mild and sunny for most of the year, with little rain concentrated in the period October-March. In the inland areas, the climate varies according to the altitude and exposure: the slopes exposed to the north-east receive a fair amount of rain and are green, while in the rest of the island rainfall is scarce, generally above below 250 mm per year on the coasts, but often also below 150 mm, and this explains the aridity of the landscapes along the coasts and southern slopes.
The prevailing winds, the north-east trade winds, in fact make the northern side more humid, while they temper the heat along the coasts during the summer; the trade winds blow with greater intensity in the central hours of the day and in the afternoon, often being moderate, or even quite strong.
At sea level, the area most exposed to the wind is the north coast, but also the most exposed areas on the eastern and southern coasts (see Punta de Abona, El Médano). The least windy area is the coast facing south-west (see Playa San Juan, Costa Adeje, Playa de Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas), thanks to the mountains that protect it from north-east winds, as can be seen in the following image.
Temperatures generally tend to stay around the averages, however, from December to March there can be somewhat cool days, with highs below 20 °C. In the coldest days of the year, which generally occur in February, the temperature usually drops to 10/11 °C at night, while the maximum remains around 17/18 °C.
On the other hand, the days of calima, characterized by anomalous heat and low wind, in which warm air of African origin predominates, are relatively rare (although they have become more frequent in recent years), and are more frequent in spring and in summer: in practice these are the only days in which temperatures exceed 30 degrees, and in which the heat is unpleasant. The calima is also felt on the slopes, indeed often even more than in the plains, because the hot air is light and tends to rise upwards, while the coasts can remain mitigated by the coolness coming from the sea. The heat records on the coasts are 34/35 °C in March, April and November; 36/37 °C in May, June and October, and 42/44 °C in July, August and September.
The rain pattern is of the Mediterranean type, which means that the bulk of the rain falls from October to March, because it is the period in which the Canary Islands can be reached by some Atlantic perturbation; in summer, on the other hand, it practically never rains. However, the total amount of rain that falls in Santa Cruz is modest: just 220 millimeters (8.7 in) per year, so we are at a semi-desert level. Here is the average rainfall.
The amount of sunshine is very good all year round, however, in addition to the perturbations that can occur in the period October-March, in summer some banks of clouds can pass and form over the Atlantic, while on the northern coast, and above all on the exposed mountain slopes in the north, clouds and local fogs can form. The southern coast is therefore the sunniest.

Flora –
The flora of the Teide National Park is characterized by a total of 168 species of vascular plants. Of these, 58 are endemic to the Canaries and 12 are point endemisms of the Park.
The most characteristic species of the Park landscape is the Teide retama (Spartocytisus supranubius), a broom with white flowers, which sometimes forms dense associations with Adenocarpus viscosus. Another very characteristic species is the endemic red viper, locally known as tajinaste rojo (Echium wildpretii), which with its red inflorescences up to 1.5 m high, dominates the landscape in the months of May and June. Smaller and less showy is the tajinaste picante (Echium auberianum) with blue inflorescences. Other fairly common endemisms are the hierba pajonera (Descurainia bourgaeana), a brassicacea with bright yellow flowers, and the Teide daisy (Argyranthemum tenerifae), which is one of the species that reaches higher altitudes, up to 3,500 m a.s.l.
Other endemic species worthy of mention include: the Teide alhelí (Erysimum scoparium), the tonática (Nepeta teydea), the Teide violet (Viola cheiranthifolia), the rare Teide edelweiss (Laphangium teydeum), the juniper of the Canaries (Juniperus cedrus), the moralito (Rhamnus integrifolia), the cardo de plata (Stemmacantha cynaroides), the rosal del guanche (Bencomia exstipulata).

Wildlife –
The Teide national park is characterized by the presence of an abundant fauna even if the only native mammals of the park are the bats among which are numbered the Cestoni molosser (Tadarida teniotis), the lesser noctule (Nyctalus leisleri), the Savi bat ( Hypsugo savii) and the endemic Madeira bat (Pipistrellus maderensis) and Tenerife long-eared bat (Plecotus teneriffae).
Among the reptiles observable inside the park, the most common is the endemic lizard of Tenerife (Gallotia galloti galloti), easily observable in spring and summer; rarer and more elusive are the western Canary skink (Chalcides viridanus) and the Tenerife tarantula (Tarentola delalandii), with crepuscular-nocturnal habits.
The avifauna of the park includes about twenty entities including an endemic subspecies of the common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis), whose range is restricted to the western Canary Islands and Madeira, the Barbary falcon (Falco pelegrinoides), the southern shrike (Lanius meridionalis koenigi), as well as numerous species of passerines, including the Canary warbler (Phylloscopus canariensis), the Canary blue tit (Cyanistes teneriffae), the Tenerife blue finch (Fringilla teydea) and the canary (Serinus canaria). Also worth mentioning are the common swift (Apus unicolor) and Berthelot’s calander (Anthus berthelotii), both endemics shared with the neighboring archipelago of Madeira.
We must remember the importance, the number and the exclusivity of the invertebrate fauna. According to recent estimates, the park is home to over a thousand species, of which 45% are endemic to the Canaries, and of these 9.2% are exclusive to Tenerife and 6.8% are restricted endemics of the park. Among the endemic species, the butterfly Cyclyrius webbianus (Lycaenidae), easily observable in most of the park, and the beetle Pimelia ascendens (Tenebrionidae), which feed on decomposing organic matter, deserve a mention. There are also numerous troglobitic invertebrates, whose range is limited to individual caves: only in the Roques de García Quarry about twenty of these organisms have been described, including the spider Dysdera gollumi (Dysderidae).

Guido Bissanti

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