Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Belt - Olarizu Park
Olarizu Botanical Gardens
European Forest Arboretum
The arboretum, extending almost 30 ha, consists of five areas representing the major types of vegetation or biomes that define the European continental landscape, except for Arctic tundra.
These five areas are divided into 25 forest formations that represent the different forest types that exist in each biome (cork oak forests, savins, oak forests, fir woods, etc. ). A total of 132 collections reflect the different variants of each forest type, defined in terms of their geographic area, altitude and the habitat where they thrive. Each collection includes the same combination of species, in the same proportion and with the same spatial distribution of natural forests. In this sense, we have used plants with different heights, emulating a natural distribution of age groups, in order to provide the collections with a greater natural aspect.
The Arboretum hosts a total of 523 species of trees, shrubs, sub-shrubs and climbing plants, constituting a scientifically organised and comprehensive collection of European forest flora.
Between October 2007 and February 2008, the Mediterranean forests and woodlands were planted. Then, the remaining areas were prepared during the autumn-winter of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. This task was completed in late 2010.
In 2011, which was declared the International Year of Forests by the UN, the citizenship of Vitoria-Gasteiz and visitors to the city were able to visit and enjoy the full European Forest Arboretum.
This area offers a tour that brings us closer to the wealth in flora of the forests in the south of the continent, where evergreen and sclerophyllous vegetation, adapted to the seasonal drought of the Mediterranean summer, predominate. These forests extend from the Iberian Peninsula, along the southern coast of France, the Mediterranean islands, the coast of Italy and the Adriatic, as far as the Peloponnese and the islands and coasts of the Aegean sea. We can find a number of types of holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia and Q. ilex), cork oak (Q. suber), Mediterranean pine and fir trees (Pinus halepensis, P. brutia, Abies pinsapo, A. cephalonica), savins (Juniperus thurifera), forests of cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), kermes oaks (Q. coccifera), wild olive trees (Olea Europea), Mediterranean scrubland and riverside forests (oleanders, tamarix as well as elm and poplar groves).
Temperate Sub-Mediterranean Forests
This area is home to several types of oak and mixed forests of deciduous marcescent plants that populate the climatic transition area between Mediterranean and temperate Europe, which runs from the Iberian Peninsula until the Anatolian Peninsula, including the Peninsula of the Apennines, the Adriatic coast and the Balkans, where the centre point is located. We can walk among Central European thermo-xerophytic oak forests (Quercus robur and Q. petraea), mixed Italo-Balkan oak forests (Q. frainetto, Q. cerris), including eastern hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), flowering ash (Fraxinus ornus) and black hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), forests of Downy oak (Q. pubescens), Pyrenean oak (Q. pyrenaica) and Iberian gall oak (Q. faginea) as well as riparian woodland.
In this area we will be able to observe a complete collection of species that are typical of temperate deciduous forests, enjoying a wide range of beech trees (Fagus sylvatica, F. orientalis), oak groves (Quercus robur and Q. petraea) and mixed forests based on a sequence of mixed oak and ash woods (Fraxinus excelsior), oak and hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), oak and linden (Tilia cordata) that occur from the Atlantic coast to the inland plains of central Europe and Russia, together with the typical riparian forests.
This area offers a sample of coniferous forests and mixed forests of conifers and broadleaves that form the European taiga. These forests extend from Iceland and Fennoscandia, covering the north of the continent as far as the Urals. We will be able to observe various collections of spruce (Picea abies, P. obovata), pine (Pinus sylvestris), birch (Betula alba, B. czerepanowii) and mixed hemiboreal forests that mark the transition to temperate broad-leave forests.
High Mountain Forests
In this case we can discover oro-Mediterranean and sub-alpine forest formations that grow up to the altitudinal limit of forests, the great mountain ranges and mountain systems of Europe: Ridges and mountain systems in the Iberian peninsula, Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, Balkan Mountains, the Urals and the Caucasus. We have represented various types of fir trees (Abies alba, A. nordmanianna, Picea abies, P. omorika), larch forests (Larix decidua), pine forests (Pinus mugo, P. uncinata, P. sylvestris, P. nigra, P. pinaster), Juniper (Juniperus Sabina and J. nana) as well as mountain bushes.
Olarizu Lake is an artificial lake, a body of water which is home to collections of plants linked to aquatic habitats (helophytes and hydrophytes) from across Europe. The construction of the lake and the planting of the collections took place during the summer and autumn of 2011.
The Garden of Useful and Endangered Plants
The first phase of the Garden of Useful and Endangered Plants will be implemented in the summer of 2012. This is a space that reflects the historical evolution of the plant-human relationship as it is home to collections dedicated to ethnobotany and to endangered, rare, endemic and singular flora of the Basque Country.
The Fields of Orchids and Geophytes
The Field of Orchids and Geophytes is an open space that includes four collections of natural grassland of the municipality of Vitoria-Gasteiz created by restoring the meadows through planting specimens taken from clearing and pruning operations in different areas of the Green Belt. This operation was performed in the autumn of 2011 and, over time, these meadows will be enhanced with collections of orchids and other geophytes of the Basque Country.
The Olarizu Viewpoint
The living plant collections of the Olarizu Viewpoint were planned in 2011 and 2012. This area is a small vantage point overlooking most of the Botanical Gardens and the surrounding area, where the typical vegetation of the ridges and limstrone rocks around Alava has ben recreated.
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