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Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean, Morocco/Andalucía, Spain

The Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean is the first intercontinental reserve declared by UNESCO. This reserve includes a marine corridor and draws a scenario of communication and collaboration between two continents with different conditions: Europe and Africa. It runs between southern Andalusia and northern Morocco, forming an open arc towards the Mediterranean and fractured by the Strait of Gibraltar. The uniqueness of this natural and socio-cultural crossroads - where the Atlantic influence is a determining factor - is exemplified by its main axes: mountains, water, Spanish firsts and Andalusian culture, as well as the environmental and socioeconomic complementarity between its northern and southern sections.

Designation date: 2006


Regional network:  EuroMABIberoMAB, Red de Reservas de la Biosfera Mediterráneas, RedBios, and Red Española de Reservas de la Biosfera

Ecosystem-based network: Mountains and World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves



    Surface : 907,185 ha

    • Core area(s):  86,251.37 ha

      • Morocco: 64,600 ha
      • Spain: 21,651.37 ha
    • Buffer zone(s):  633,654.95 ha
      • Morocco: 282,500 ha
      • Spain: 351,154.95 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 174,228.43 ha
      • Morocco: 123,500 ha
      • Spain: 50,728.43 ha
    • Marine area between both countries: 13,050 ha

    Location: 36º 1' 51.72132"N – 5º 36' 4.6476"W

    Administrative Authorities

    Comité Mixto de Coordinación RBIM (Alto Comisariado de Aguas y Bosques y Lucha contra la Desertificación del Reino de Marruecos, Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica del Reino de España y Junta de Andalucía)
    Milagros Pérez Villalba. Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible (Junta de Andalucía)
    Servicios Centrales Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible
    Av. Manuel Siurot, 50. 41071 Seville

    Tel.: +34 955003836


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The physical and natural support of the biosphere reserve are the mountains of the large and rugged Bético-Rifeña mountain range, which extends through Andalusia and northern Morocco with heights ranging from 2,170 metres in the Jbel Lakraay to over 500 metres in the Strait of Gibraltar, creating natural conditions shared by both shores.

    The mountain ranges, with their abrupt reliefs, have a large amount of water, which has generated various environments that are reflected in their more than 2,000 species of flora and fauna, with important endemisms, such as the Spanish fir, the black juniper or the cedar. In addition, the role played by the strait in the migrations of European and African birds, with a rate of 1,000 birds per hour, as well as in the transit of different species of cetaceans and constructions of biotic origin such as coral.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The Biosphere Reserve is an attractive area for visitors, due to its rich landscape combined with a socioeconomic system typical of mountain areas near the sea. These areas combine the traditional use of natural resources - linked to agriculture, livestock, fishing and forestry - with the communication and marketing possibilities of their ports. With the promotion of tourism, the administrations on both sides of the Strait intend that those who visit this space can observe the similarities of natural, historical and social values that are shared within the intercontinental biosphere reserve framework.

    However, the most outstanding feature of this biosphere reserve is its willingness to promote a sustainable development model in a framework of institutional collaboration. This will has been materialized in the RBIM Action Plan that began to be implemented after its designation and that works in four directions: the three functions of biosphere reserves and its specificities as an intercontinental reserve: the strengthening of the reserve, the promotion of sustainable development, the improvement of environmental conditions and governance.


    Back to Biosphere Reserves in Morocco
    Back to Biosphere Reserves in Spain
    Back to World Network of Biosphere Reserves

    Last updated: October 2018