The National Park covers ca. 70 000 hectares and was founded in 1971. It is located at a climatic transition zone (the climate is Temperate/Atlantic Sub-Mediterranean), with 1-2 dry months in summer. Annual rainfall is usually above 2000 mm, reaching 3500 mm in summits. Granite is by far the dominant bedrock type. The main ecosystem/land cover types are deciduous oak forests, heathland and scrub, meadows and rock outcrops (in highlands), and forest plantations, scrub, urban and agriculture (in lowlands).
This site is the only national park in the country, with over 40 years of experience in conservation and management, and since 1997 also part of a transnational park and of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Gerês-Xurés). Also a Natura site (both SCI and SPA). It holds one of the highest diversity of Annex I habitat types in the country. The Park hosts several plant and animal species of high conservation value, including the Iberian wolf (EU priority species) and many other Iberian endemic species of fauna and flora. Also important for several European plant species having their only national occurrence in the National Park. High potential for rewilding in the highest elevations where human activities and only occasional.
Available measurements include: updated land cover and Annex I habitat maps (1:10 000 and 1:25 000 scales; for multiple dates); many data available on plant and animal diversity; several PhD projects developed in the Park over the last 15 years; reasonable coverage of climatic stations; geological maps and soil maps available at various scales; low and medium resolution satellite imagery available, and a few HR and VHR satellite images available from previous projects.
Main drivers of change (and potential threats) in highlands are farmland and pastoral abandonment, infrastructures (wind farms), changes in wildfire regimes. In lowlands, the key drivers/threats are intensive forestry, expansion of non-native invasive plants, urban development, tourism and infrastructures. Climate change may become an important driver throughout the Park due to its elevation range and climatic transitional situation.
Table of ecosystem services/functions and available data