Teide National Park
Teide National Park (Spanish: Parque nacional del Teide, pronounced: ˈpaɾke naθjoˈnal de ˈtei̯.ðe) is a national park located in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). It is centered on Mount Teide, the highest mountain of Spain (3,718 metres high) and the islands of the Atlantic (it is the third largest volcano in the world from its base on the ocean floor). It was declared a national park on 22 January 1954, making it one of the oldest national parks in Spain. It is also the largest national park in Spain and an important part of the Canary Islands. Another volcano located in the park (next to Teide) is Pico Viejo. It is the second tallest volcano in the Canary Islands with its 3,135 m peak.
The park has an area of 18,990 hectares and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on June 28, 2007. Since the end of 2007, it has also been one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. On a ridge, to the east of Teide, are the telescopes of the Observatorio del Teide. Territorially, it belongs to the municipality of La Orotava.
Teide is the most visited national park in Spain, with a total of 2.8 million visitors, according to the Instituto Canario de Estadística (ISTAC), and it is one of the most visited national parks in the world. The Teide is the most famous natural icon not only of Tenerife but also of all the Canary Islands.
The Teide National Park has a large historical value. This place had an important spiritual significance to aboriginal Guanches and important archaeological sites have been discovered in the park. For the Guanches the Teide was a place of worship, they thought it was the gate of hell (Echeyde).
National park status was declared on January 22, 1954, which was one of the third in Spain. In 1981 the park was reclassified and established as a special legal regime. In 1989, the Council of Europe awarded the European Diploma of Protected Areas, in its highest category. This recognition and conservation management has been subsequently renewed in 1994, 1999 and 2004.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of its transformation into a national park, in 2002 the paperwork was begun to declare the park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On June 28, 2007, after five years of work and effort, UNESCO decided to declare the Teide National Park, World Heritage Site in the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO held in Christchurch, New Zealand. Teide National Park is also at the end of 2007, one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
Teide National Park is complementary to the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, this is mainly due to being in each of them represented the volcanic structures and forms less evolved magmas of such islands (Hawaii) and more evolved and differentiated (Teide). Moreover, Teide National Park shares similar scenic characteristics with the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States.
The lava flows on the flanks of Teide weather to a very thin, but nutrient and mineral rich soil that supports a diverse number of plant species. Vascular flora consists of 168 plant species, 33 of which are endemic to Tenerife.
Forests of Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) occur from 1000–2100 m, covering the middle slopes of the volcano, and having an alpine timberline 1000 m lower than that of continental mountains of similar latitude. At higher altitudes, the Las Cañadas caldera provides sufficient shelter for more fragile species such as the Canary Island cedar (Juniperus cedrus), and the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) to grow.
The most dominant plant species in the Teide National Park are the Teide white broom (Spartocytisus supranubius), which has a white and pink flower; the Canary Island wallflower (Erysimum scoparium), which has white and violet flowers; and the Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii), whose red flowers form a pyramid up to 3m in height. The Teide daisy (Argyranthemum teneriffae) can be found at altitudes close to 3,600m above sea level. The Teide violet (Viola cheiranthifolia) can be found right up to the summit of the volcano, making it the highest flowering plant in Spain.
These plants are adapted to the tough environmental conditions on the volcano such as high altitude, intense sunlight, extreme temperature variations, and lack of moisture. Adaptations include acquiring semi-spherical forms, acquiring a downy or waxy cover, reducing the exposed leaf area, and having a high flower production. Flowering takes place in the late spring or early summer, in the months of May and June.
The Teide National Park contains a huge range of invertebrate fauna, over 40% of which are endemic species, with 70 species only being found in the national park. The invertebrate fauna include spiders, beetles, dipterans, hemipterans, and hymenopterae.
In contrast, Teide national park has only a limited variety of vertebrate fauna. Ten species of bird nest in the park. These include the blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea teydea); Berthelot's pipit (Anthus berthelotii berthelotii); the Atlantic canary (Serinus canaria); and a subspecies of kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis).
Three endemic reptile species are also found in the park – the Canary Island lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti), the Canary Island wall gecko (Tarentola delalandii), and the Canary Island skink (Chalcides viridanus viridanus).
The only mammals native to the park are bats, the most common species of which is Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri). Other mammals such as the mouflon, the rabbit, the house mouse, the black rat, the feral cat, and the Algerian hedgehog have all been introduced to the park.
The similarity between environmental conditions and geological Teide National Park and the planet Mars have turned this spot volcanic reference point for studies related to the red planet.
The analogies between the red planet and parts of Tenerife make the island the ideal place for testing instruments that will travel to Mars and reveal past or present life on Mars. In 2010 a research team tested at Las Cañadas del Teide, the Raman instrument to be sent in the next expedition to Mars, ESA-NASA ExoMars from 2016-2018.
In 2011 a team of United Kingdom researchers visited the national park in June to test a method for finding life on Mars and finding places to try in 2012, new robotic vehicles.
Besides the Teide National Park participates in different international programs and exchange advice with other national parks in the world, especially Central America, South America and Europe. In regard to international cooperation, the Teide National Park has provided technical support to the Souss-Massa National Park located in southwestern of Morocco.