One of the most memorable impressions felt by visitors to the Sierra de Aracena Natural Park is the abundant tree mass: of the 184,000 hectares within the Natural Park, 127,000 are tree-covered, of which the different species belonging to the quercus family amount to 100,000 hectares, or 60% of the Natural Park’s surface. Having said this, there are multiple categories of plants and trees, whose location and growth are characterized by climate, soil quality and human activity.
The primitive tree mass covers a reduced area on the upper slopes of the Natural Park that are furthest from villages and towns. It is home to gall oaks, cork oaks, holm oaks, chestnuts and pines, as well as a dense covering of bush and thicket including wild strawberries plants, laurustinus, Spanish broom, Kermes oak, salvia cistus, lavender, honeysuckle, barberry, gorse, heather and ferns. This would have constituted the general fauna in the area, before the arrival of man.
Meadows and pastureland resulted from the transformation carried out by man’s primitive ancestors on land that would previously have been unproductive and impenetrable. The most productive fruit bearing trees were left, and the remaining vegetation was removed, favouring holm and cork oaks, whose acorns were used to feed livestock and as a consequence, helped the growth of the pork meat industry.
The other two types of vegetation are bushes and thickets, as well as riverine forest. With regard to the latter, human intervention has had a strong influence, although it still plays an important part in the protection of soil and plants from strong sunlight, high temperatures and frost. River banks are dotted with poplar, willow, alder and ash trees.