Scenes from the life and culture of the Sierra de la Culebra (Zamora)

Discover the Culebra first-hand

The landscape, geography, culture, history, botany, and of course the wolf and its prey, will no longer hold any secrets for you.

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The Sierra de la Culebra is a mountain chain of medium height, between 1,000 and 1,200 meters high (the highest points are Peña Mira, with 1,243m, and the Pico Campanario, with 1,020m). These differences in height in a small space cause some notable contrasts with regards to the distribution of the vegetation; on the valley floors, the summits, or the hillsides, depending on their orientation towards the sun and the way the shadows fall on them. The area is a transitional zone between a Mediterranean and an Atlantic climate.


Peña Mira Sierra de la Culebra - Lobisome Naturaleza

Peña Mira, the modest peak of the Sierra de la Culebra. In the old Europe, wildlife still walks the fields in primitive conditions, beauty becomes incarnated in a howl, an elusive shadow, and in the dream come true of an ancestral and magic meeting…


Towards the 18th century, the area is characterised by some highly complex and diversified forestal structures, with Pyrenean oaks (Quercus pyrenaica), Portuguese oaks (Quercus faginea), holm oaks (Quercus ilex subsp. Rotundifolia), and cork trees (Quercus suber).

Flora Sierra de la Culebra - Lobisome NaturalezaThe disentailment of communal properties in the second half of the 19th century means a fracture in the system of exploitation of the farmland in the region. Now, the municipalities are the owners of the oak woodland and heaths, and this brings changes to the fragile balance between agriculture, stockbreeding and forestal exploitation.

From halfway through the 20th century there is a notable recovery of the forestal space, a process that starts with the massive introduction of conifers (mainly cluster pines, Scots pines, and, to a lesser extent, European black pines) and, socially speaking, depopulation. The government’s reforestation policy, based on monoculture, revalues the mountain areas, and from 1945 on the Sierra de la Culebra becomes the most important area of activity of the State Forest Heritage in the province of Zamora.

From 1969 on, the mountains are used firstly for wood production, and secondly for social purposes. The repopulation project shifts its focus towards the recovery of the mountains, but also pursues the reduction of the use of those same mountains for stockbreeding. This affects the immigration, after which the mounts start getting used for industrial and recreational purposes, particularly game hunting.

Fauna Sierra de la Culebra - Lobisome NaturalezaCurrently, the wide distribution of the scrubland is characterised by heather surfaces, most importantly Erica australis L., which benefits from the yearly fires and acts as an invading species. There is also an abundance of Erica arborea L. and Erica umbellata L. (very important for the production of honey). All of these species have flourished thanks to the deforestation caused by man, growing on poor soil and complicating the mountains’ regeneration as original oak land.

The relative natural quality the Sierra de La Culebra conserves has earned it the status of Protected Natural Area (PNA) by European network of nature protection areas Natura 2000, with a surface of 67,190 Ha, establishing a protective legal system and regulating the possible use and activities, which, however, is not being followed to the letter. The area has also been declared Site of Community Interest (SCI), because of its diverse collection of Mediterranean moors and bushes.

The fauna consists of at least six fish species, fourteen amphibians, fourteen reptiles, 29 mammals, and a wide range of birds (21 species mentioned in Annex1, Directive 79/409/CEE, and seven other migratory species which are not mentioned in said Directive). But the main interest of this space is that it is one of the increasingly scarce Western European ecosystems where the wolf shares its space with a collection of wild and free hoofed animals (deer, roe deer and wild boar), naturally regulated by the predator.


Vegetación Sierra de la Culebra - Lobisome Naturaleza

Boundaries of thermophilic vegetation, the threshold of the immediate influence of the Atlantic, SCI Banks of the sub-basin of the river Tera and tributaries. Here we see the Río Negro flowing along the south border of La Carballeda. On the horizon on the left you see the Trevinca mountain, and the spurs form part of the SCI and SPA (Special Protected Area) Sierra de la Cabrera, wolf territory par excellence and peripheral to the Sierra de la Culebra.

Plano Rutas Loberas - Lobisome Naturaleza

Come to see with us the wolf, and in the meantime, discover the wild west of Zamora with the help of the following pop. It provides detailed information for routes between yew and oak forests; pristine lakes, rivers and snowy mountains; ethnography associated with the wolf, and routes to find their footprints and scent marks.

To fully enjoy your scans, also download our wolf mini-guide.