Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
Mixed France,spain Europe And North America France: Midi-pyrénées Region, Hautes-pyrénées Déparetment;1999 Extension: Commune Of Gèdre Spain:autonomous Community Of Aragón, Province Of Huesca, Communes Of Torla, Fanlo, Tella-sin, Puértolas, Bielsa, And

The transboundary site is centred on the peak of Mont Perdu that rises to 3,352 m in the Pyrenees mountains. The Pyrenees represent the tectonic collision point of the lberian and West European plates.

The most geologically outstanding portion of the Pyrenees is the calcareous massif centred on Mont Perdu. On the north (France) side the landscape is much more abrupt with three major cirques, while on the southern slopes (Spain) Mont Perdu (or Peridido) has three radiating spurs with deep canyons that gradually slope to the lberian Piedmont.

There are also climatic differences between the northern and southern slopes. The French side is humid whereas the Spanish slopes are dryer. Climate also varies also from the west (maritime influence) to the east (coastal Mediterranean climate).

The location of the Pyrenees between two seas, their geological structure and the climatic asymmetries result in a rich mosaic of vegetation types. Five vegetation types have been described: sub-Mediterranean, collinean, montane, subalpine and alpine.

There is a rich plant diversity (3,500 species and subspecies) and endemism (5%). The site supports many wildlife species typical of the Pyrenees. Mammals include the marmot and ungulates such as the Spanish ibex, of which there are only three female individuals. The insectivorous Pyrenean desman occurs in lowland elevation. The avifauna, reptiles, amphibious species and coleoptera are very rich.

There are human settlements in the area since the Palaeolithic (40,000-10,000 BC), as shown by sites such as the Anisclo and Escuain caves, the Gavarnie stone circles and the Tella dolmen. The permanent settlements entered history in documents of the Middle Ages. The massif has played a major role in the communication between Spanish and French communities bordering the site.

Several thousand years of human settlement has caused many changes to the natural environment of the site. Many large predators and carnivore species have been extirpated or severely reduced in number. In recent time some species have been reintroduced such as the marmot. The original forest has been removed by cutting or burning although it is now recovering. There has been extensive livestock grazing over much of the area although this is no longer permitted in the Ordessa National Park. The centuries-old transhumant system of grazing continues within the area, with frequent movement of herds across the French-Spanish border. One historic route accessible on foot connects the two sides and was a branch of the original route of Santiago de Compostela.