Serra do Xistral boasts the most valuable ensemble of wet heathlands and bogs of the Iberian northwest in terms of biodiversity conservation, including a blanket bog complex unparalleled in all the European southwest.


LIFE in COMMON LAND includes among its goals the conservation of 3 types of habitats: active raised bogs (7110*), active blanket bogs (7130*) and Atlantic wet heathlands (4020*). These are three types of natural habitat considered primary conservation priorities, as their survival is threatened in the European Union.

La The SAC Serra do Xistral harbours superb instances of those habitats.

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The large area of wet heathland and bog habitats present in the SAC Serra do Xistral has been stated to be the most valuable ensemble of bog and wet heathlands for biodiversity conservation in all the Iberian northwest. More specifically, the blanket bogs present in the mountain range are unparalleled in all the European southwest.

Wet heathlands

Active raised bogs

Blanket bogs

Bogs are an important reservoir of CO2, which is released through habitat degradation. Therefore, any actions geared towards improving their structure and functionality, and towards achieving for them a good conservation status, have a direct positive impact on the fight against climate change. Bogs contain also essential paleo-environmental information for the study of climate history and thus to help us to better understand its evolution and to find adaptation strategies.

ACTIVE RAISED BOGS (7110*) are acid bogs, poor in mineral nutrients, dependant on rainfall for their supply, presenting a water table usually higher than the surrounding areas and perennial vegetation with a predominance of coloured sphagnums growing on microclines. The term "active" is applied to those cases where a significant area of peat-generating vegetation exists. The conservation status for this habitat within Europe is "unfavourable, poor".

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ACTIVE BLANKET BOGS (7130*) are large peat-generating communities (landscapes) covering flat or sloped terrain, badly drained in areas of Atlantic climate with high precipitation –traits which are characteristic of the west and north of the British Islands and Ireland.

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ATLANTIC WET HEATHS (4020*) are hygrophilous heathlands subject to temperate, oceanic climate, growing on semi-peaty or drained soils, with surface minerals present in the case of peaty soils. Their official denomination would be Atlantic wet heathlands in temperate areas with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix, which indicates habitat location and the two predominant types of heather –though not the only ones– which usually make up this habitat, i.e. Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix. A peculiarity to Serra do Xistral is the substitution of the aforementioned heather species by a close relative, Erica mackayana, which is endemic to the north of the Iberian Peninsula and has a very limited presence in Ireland.

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The heathland and bog habitat mosaic is subject to farming activities of a marked traditional nature, adapted to the strenuous conditions of northern Galicia mountain ranges. The SAC Serra do Xistral has witnessed the proven positive effect that low-impact farming practices, such as extensive cattle and pony grazing, have on vegetation diversity and structure. Besides, these semi-natural farming activities provide an instrumental "green" infrastructure for wildlife, essential to maintain the connectivity between natural and semi-natural ecosystems. The execution of LIFE in COMMON LAND will entail the inclusion of biodiversity conservation as an integral part of the farming management system through the implementation of full conservation results-based management schemes, following the successful examples from other areas of the Atlantic Region.