Reserva de la Biosfera
The island of La Gomera is one of the smallest in the Canary archipelago; its greatest distance in a straight line, from point to point, is less than 24 km. Its highest point is towards the centre, at the Alto del Garajonay (1.487 m.); on this part of the island, there is a high area with a network of deep ravines distributed in a radial pattern. The rugged relief characterises La Gomera: mountains, cliffs, rocks, crests, volcanic dykes… etc. but not only this…
The nature of La Gomera and its cultural values have been internationally recognised for their wealth of endemisms and singularities. Its mountains, the Garajonay National Park, has been a World Heritage Site (Unesco) since 1986, and since 2012, the island and the sea that surrounds it is a World Biosphere Reserve.
Like the rest of the Canary Islands, La Gomera is a volcanic island, although it has not been active for 2.4 Ma. Added to its age (between 15 and 20 Ma.), the island’s soils have very ancient origins and evolution, and the role of erosion is very important in the shaping of the island.
El clima de La Gomera, templado–cálido, no es distinto del resto de las islas occidentales, con las que también comparte factores atmosféricos, como los vientos alisios (con la importante lluvia horizontal). La combinación con el relieve insular y otros elementos atmosféricos locales dan a la isla una enorme variedad climática en cortas distancias.
All of this means that the island has a bio-geographical range of enormous biodiversity, with a multitude of endemic species. Broadly speaking, there are three altitudinal strips on the island: the coast, subject to semi-arid conditions and dominated by the Cardonal-Tabaibal and other xerophilous species. The second reaches the foot of the scrubland, where there is less sunshine and slightly more rainfall, and is dominated by more developed species (such as palms and junipers). The last strip reaches the summit and has greater humidity due to the direct impact of the sea of clouds; it is entirely occupied by the best preserved Monteverde in the archipelago, made up mainly of two types of forest: Fayal-Brezal and Laurisilva. This forest, with about 50 different species of trees, is considered a living relic of the Tertiary Era.
Gomeran fauna is not characterised by large animals; on the contrary, the island is really rich in small animals, such as birds, reptiles and above all insects. The sea is full of life, the list is endless: limpets, mackerel, horse mackerel, dogfish, groupers, bigeye tuna… The most interesting terrestrial fauna is to be found in the mountain domains, with endemic species such as the rabiche and turquoise laurel pigeons. Another of the island’s endemic species is the giant lizard of La Gomera (Gallotiabravoana), a reptile “discovered” in 1999 in the cliffs of La Merca (Valle Gran Rey).