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Assessment of Geodiversity in the Southern Part of the Central Iberian Zone (Jaén Province): Usefulness for Delimiting and Managing Natural Protected Areas

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To explore the relationship between geodiversity and borders of natural protected areas, we studied the northern part of Jaén Province (southern Spain), where the southern sector of the Central Iberian Massif, the Betic Cordillera and the Guadalquivir foreland basin come together. Moreover, several natural protected areas (NPAs) are located here. To approach the topic, we defined the geodiversity index as the sum of partial indices: lithological, geomorphological, palaeontological, pedological, minerals, hydrology and geosites. This made it possible to derive a map of the geodiversity index and a map of geodiversity gradient. Analysis of their distribution shows that almost 80% of the territory has values of medium, high and very high geodiversity, but these zones are situated outside the borders of the NPAs. A similar study considering two biological indices (endangered species and biodiversity) shows a good correlation between the limits of NPAs and the higher values of these indices. Thus, an absence of correlation between the geodiversity index and biological indices is clearly detected. These results are not in agreement with the definition of NPAs in the current Spanish laws of nature conservation.

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Jean Sanders reviewed the English of this manuscript. We are indebted to Dr. K. Page (editor of this journal) and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments on this manuscript.


This research was funded by the Project Evaluación de la geodiversidad y del patrimonio geológico. Utilidad para la delimitación y gestión de espacios naturales protegidos. Aplicación en parques y monumentos naturales del norte de la Provincia de Jaén (Centre for Advanced Studies in Earth Sciences, University of Jaén, Spain) and by the Research Group RNM-200 (Junta de Andalucía).

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Correspondence to L. M. Nieto.

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Fernández, A., Fernández, T., Pereira, D.I. et al. Assessment of Geodiversity in the Southern Part of the Central Iberian Zone (Jaén Province): Usefulness for Delimiting and Managing Natural Protected Areas. Geoheritage 12, 20 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-020-00447-6

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  • Geodiversity
  • Biodiversity
  • Central Iberian Zone
  • GIS
  • Geodiversity index
  • Natural protected areas