The 5,000 ha of Peneda-Gerês Wilderness is embedded into the Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal. The Peneda-Gerês National Park was created in 1971 due to its national and international scientific values, with the aim to protect the existing human and natural resources. Since the Peneda-Gerês National Park was established in 1971, it was acknowledged as the wildest area of Portugal. The area also has a cultural history from prehistoric times through Roman occupation to the present day. The cultural influences represented a challenge for the National Park in achieving a Wilderness Quality Standard without extractive use. As there is currently grazing in the large part of the potential Wilderness, a contract was signed allowing for a withdrawal of grazing over a 10-year period to ultimately expand Peneda-Gerês Wilderness. However, in the view of the verifiers it was also considered necessary for the park to implement a Transitional Core Zone Implementation Plan to facilitate the reversion to a natural state as close as possible.
European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit System
The 5,000 ha Peneda-Gerês Wilderness was audited and monitored in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and meets the Gold Wilderness Quality Standard. A European Wilderness Quality Standard Renewal-Audit is scheduled for 2021.
- Protected area: Peneda-Gerês National Park
- Wilderness: Peneda-Gerês Wilderness
- Wilderness Quality Standard: Gold
- Country: Portugal
- Size of the protected area: 70,290 ha
- Size of the Wilderness: 5,000 ha
- European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit: 2011
- Wilderness Uniqueness: The frontier between the Euro-Siberian and Mediterranean regions with four distinct biomes: oak forest, shrubbery, marshes and riparian vegetation. Wild, inaccessible landscape with rare and unique species, such as the wild ponies “Garranos”, wolf, otter, and golden eagle
- Number of visitors per year to the protected area: approx. 250,000
- Number of visitors per year to the Wilderness: approx. 25,000
The Peneda-Gerês Wilderness provides safe refuge for many species typical for this region. The foothills of the Serra da Gerês along with the foothills of the Serra da Cabreira constitute the frontier between the Euro-Siberian and Mediterranean regions. That grant on the Peneda-Gerês Wilderness floral and phyto-geographic importance. The floristic diversity includes 823 vascular plant species that occur in 128 types of natural vegetation. In the oak forests, which are common throughout the park, the following trees besides oak can be found: butcher’s broom, maple and Portuguese laurel.
Many big mammals and birds significantly suffered in this Peneda-Gerês Wilderness, such as the population of grey wolf and the golden eagle. The bear disappeared from the region in the 17th century and the extinct Portuguese ibex, locally known as Gerês goat, was last seen last in the 1890s. More than a century later, its vacant ecological niche was reoccupied naturally by Spanish ibexes coming from Galicia, and their population numbered about 100 animals by 2011.
Wilderness Tourism Experience
Peneda-Gerês Wilderness is providing the Mediterranean type of Wilderness and is offering the unique opportunity to observe spontaneous Wilderness restoration in a Mediterranean country, as several thousand hectares of sporadically used and abandoned grazing lands are part of the existing Peneda-Gerês Wilderness area.
Peneda-Gerês Wilderness is offering a wide spectrum of local services and opportunities, not only to enjoy this corner of Portugal, but also to learn about and explore Peneda-Gerês Wilderness. Visits include tasting the local gastronomy, pass by an old village, making a canoeing tour and bathing on amazing landscapes.