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The Natural Park of Montes de Málaga

Human activity

The Montes de Malaga includes the towns of Casabermeja and Colmenar, and the city of Malaga.

The pine forests originally present but cut down for the production of wine grapes, olives and almonds, are now making a comeback, since these retained the soil to avoid the flooding caused by man and which so affected Malaga until the 20th century.

During the 19th Century, the area was used for the cultivation of grapevines, which is why there are still several ruins of “lagares”* where excellent quality wines were produced until the arrival in 1877 of the phylloxera, an insect that attacks the grape that had been unknowingly brought from abroad. The vines rapidly disappeared, ruining farm owners and forcing them to sell their land. The new proprietors planted almond and olive trees, which did not need such intensive management but which left the steep slopes with little or no vegetation to retain the soil. This, added to the torrential nature of rainfall in the area, produced catastrophic results for the city of Malaga, at the very base of the mountains, in particular in the floods of 1906/7 that caused many deaths and incalculable loss of property and wealth.

It was for these reasons, that the Montes de Malaga was replanted with pine and Eucalyptus trees, although in more recent times, these two varieties are being gradually replaced with more typical Mediterranean forest plants and trees, since the former, although faster growing, also make the soil more acidic and impede growth of covering vegetation.

Sheep pasturing in the public land within the Natural Park is limited and of poor quality, although some of the private farms favour grazing for the production of wool.

Bee keeping is of relative importance in the north of the Natural Park, and the town of Colmenar has a visitor centre dedicated to bees and honey production.

 

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