The landscapes of the Geoparc are a mosaic of contrasts and a true paradise for nature lovers. From the fertile valleys that are drawn by the meandering rivers Llobregat and its tributary, the Cardener, to the steep peaks of the natural parks of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón and the Obac, the never-ending network of signposted paths in this strategic area is an endless invitation to travel, either on foot or by bicycle. Some of the best-known routes in Catalonia cross the Geoparc among leafy areas of pine and oak trees: the Way of Saint James, the Oliba Way, the 3 Mountains Route and the Ignasià Way. For centuries, some historical paths, such as the transhumance paths, have been opened up by following the rivers or crossing the forests, pastures and vineyards.
The landscape is clearly forested, alternating with crops and urban areas. The most extensive forests are of Aleppo pines, pine trees and red pines, species that have been favoured for forest exploitation for years, much to the detriment of other types of forest such as oak and holm oak, although they are also present. In the 1980s and 1990s, forest fires burned large areas of pine trees and encouraged the growth of rosemary shoots. In addition to forests and shoots there are other plant communities with particularly diverse vegetation, such as shrubs, meadows and wetlands. Of the latter, the main ones are the wetlands of La Bòbila and La Corbatera, which are areas of great biodiversity. In areas where chalk and salts emerge, vegetation adapted to these soil conditions can be observed. On the banks of rivers and streams, important riverside forests can be developed where species such as poplar, ash, white willow and vernacular predominate.
The crops are mainly rainfed, with grains such as oats, wheat and barley, but also almonds and mainly olive trees. Vines are also a traditional crop that were introduced by the Romans. In the second half of the 19th century it reached its peak, when even the mountain slopes were occupied to plant it in dry stone terraces. The emergence of the phylloxera slowed down the expansion and progressively its cultivation went into decline. In 1995, the Pla de Bages DO was created, which has given it new impetus.
The fauna is also diverse, although there are animals that can be found everywhere: mammals such as the wild pig and the fox. In open areas and thickets, rabbits, partridges and forest mice are common, and in the eastern mountains, the vole. In the woods, the squirrel is also representative. In the mountainous areas of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón you can also find the beech marten and the civet, and the mountain goat and the cave bat are characteristic. In the rocky environments there are also cocks-of-the-rock such as the alpine swift, the crag martin and the woodpecker. The most common birds of prey are the peregrine falcon and the Bonelli’s eagle. Other common birds are the hawk, eagle-owl, goshawk, raven and jackdaw.
The waters are not of high quality and the fish populations are typically carp, barbus and catfish In some torrents it is still possible to find the leprous pond turtle.
15% of the Geoparc’s surface area is protected within the Montserrat Mountain and Sant Llorenç del Montón and Obac Natural Parks, or in the Natura 2000 Network, PEIN, Wetlands, etc. In addition, the main elements of geological interest are part of the Inventory of Areas of Geological Interest in Catalonia made by the Government of Catalonia.
Side photo: the Montcau is seen from the Navarcles road in Sant Fruitós de Bages. | Gerard Franquesa