Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya National Park, whose WDPA code is: 895, is a national park present on the southern portion of Tinajo and the northern portion of Yaiza, in Lanzarote, Spain. The park occupies a substantial part of the southwestern quadrant of the island of Lanzarote.
The Timanfaya National Park has an area of approximately 51.07 km² and is located on an exclusively volcanic geological substrate. The largest eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736. The activity of the volcano continues, as evidenced by the temperatures measured at a depth of 13 meters below the surface and which oscillate between 100 and 600 °C. In 1993, UNESCO recognized this area as a biosphere reserve.
The symbol of the park is the statue “El Diablo”, by César Manrique.
The Timanfaya National Park was established by decree on August 9, 1974. Among other protections, it should be remembered that this space is, by definition, an area of ecological sensitivity, for the purposes of what is indicated in law 11/1990, of July 13, on ecological impact prevention.
This park originated following the last eruptions that took place on the island and therefore, this volcanic habitat, being an area where human presence has been practically zero, is in the first stages of ecological succession (in total there are about 180 plant species, mostly lichens), so it is an excellent place for research on colonization processes (fauna and flora).

Geography –
There are more than 25 volcanoes in the park area, some of which are emblematic, such as the Montañas del Fuego, the Montaña Rajada or the Caldera del Corazoncillo. It still has volcanic activity, with surface hotspots reaching 100º-120ºC and 600ºC at a depth of 13 metres.
Various elements of scientific, geological and geomorphological interest of great singularity abound, such as ovens, caves, malpaíses, etc., and landscape beauties.
The national park is completely surrounded, with the exception of the western part facing the sea, by the Los Volcanes natural park.

Climate –
The climate of the Timanfaya National Park is very mild and desert-like, with very mild or pleasantly warm winters, and hot, sunny summers.
On the other hand, the island of Lanzarote is particularly exposed to the trade winds, winds that blow constantly throughout the year, from the north-east, especially in the afternoon. The waves that are generated are particularly popular with surfers.
The temperatures are very mild, spring-like for most of the year: during the day they go from 21°C in January and February to 29°C in August and September.
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. The cold record is 7.5 °C, recorded in February 2018.
On the other hand, sometimes a hot and dry wind from Africa can blow, which can reduce visibility thanks to the dust or sand from the desert, and bring abnormal heat, which usually lasts three or four days; this phenomenon has become more frequent in recent years due to global warming. Together with Fuerteventura, Lanzarote is particularly exposed to these hot winds. The heat record is 43.5 °C, recorded in August 1980. In July 2004 and August 2010 the temperature reached 43 °C, while in 2015 it reached 42.5 °C in May and 37 °C C in October.
Along the coast, the rains remain below 150 millimeters (6 in) per year, and are due to the perturbations that occur in the October-March period.
Unlike other Canary Islands, in inland areas the heights reach a few hundred meters, too few to cause a significant increase in rainfall. However, at the highest point of the Famara massif, which culminates at an altitude of 670 metres, where the military station and the Ermita de las Nieves are located, the landscape is a little more green, mists and mists can form and there are terraces for cultivation.
The sun shines throughout the year, however, in addition to the perturbations that can occur in the October-March period, in the summer some banks of clouds can pass forming over the Atlantic, while on the northern coast, and above all on the hillsides exposed to north, local clouds and haze can form. The southern coast is therefore the sunniest.
The sea around the park is cool, due to the cold sea current, known as the Canary Current, which flows west of Morocco: the sea temperature ranges from 18 °C in February and March to 22.5 °C in September and October . So basically you can try to swim even in winter, at least if you don’t feel cold, while in summer the sea remains cool. Here is the average sea temperature.

Flora –
In a hostile environment like this national park, one would expect no vegetation, however the plants have adapted to unfavorable conditions by developing special structures to resist the high insolation and water scarcity. The studies that have been carried out on the flora and vegetation of the park have revealed a greater diversity than one might expect in principle from a place whose environmental conditions make colonization by living beings difficult.
In the early stages of colonization, lichens pave the way, transforming the soil for the settlement of other plant organisms that need a more developed substrate.
The vascular flora of the park consists of 313 taxa and, moreover, 146 taxa have been described including bryophytes, fungi and lichens. As for the marine flora, a total of 105 taxa have been identified.
The islets are home to the greatest variety of flora and fauna in the entire Timanfaya National Park and are mainly located on the southern and eastern borders of the Park. They are small reliefs of land and the only places that have not been affected by the last eruptions of the 18th century. The islets are real oases where most of the animal and plant life has taken refuge.
In the oldest areas, formations of tabaibales, wild geranium and other plants very resistant to the driest atmospheric factors are frequent.
The climate is the main limiting factor but, moreover, the trade winds are of great importance in the development of the vegetation, favoring the establishment of the plants towards the windward side.

Wildlife –
Although at first glance it might seem, due to the extreme conditions of aridity, lack of vegetation and water, that the national park does not host animals, the truth is that around 200 species inhabit Timanfaya, of which close to 50% correspond to invertebrates. Out of the total number of species mentioned, 24 are protected in one of the categories established by current legislation.
As for the fauna, reptiles and birds dominate, which have adapted well to the exceptional conditions of the park.
The Haría lizard and the perenquén rough or majorero are the only reptiles able to live here by feeding on insects and some plants.
Among the birds there are many migratory birds that seek quiet places to establish temporary colonies. The best example is found in the coastal strip, where a large number of seabirds find refuge, such as the shearwater, which constitutes one of the most important migratory bird colonies in the Canary Islands.
We can also find the crow, the common kestrel and others such as the Egyptian vulture, called guirre (Neophron percnopterus) in the Canary Islands, or the common turtle dove have their permanent refuge in the mountain of fire.

Guido Bissanti

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