The Place

COUREL dos tesos cumes que ollan de lonxe!
Eiquí síntese ben o pouco que é un home...
Os Eidos, Uxío Novoneyra.

O Courel is a mountainous area located in the southeast of the province of Lugo and which has two outstanding features not found anywhere else: the sweet chestnut plantations (soutos), fields and meadows resulting from human activity, and a natural world which, in the words of the botanist Baltasar Merino in 1899, is 'free, rich and exuberant'.

For the protection of the environment, O Courel is included in the 'Red Natura 2.000' (Nature Network 2000) as a European Union Site of Special Interest (LIC) and at the regional level it has been declared a Natural Area requiring Special Protection. Additionally, the upper reaches of the river Lor have been put forward for classification as a River Nature Reserve. Wolves and golden eagles are still to be found in O Courel as are rare species of plants included in the Galician Catalogue of threatened species, and there are more than 30 habitats classified as 'priority interest to the European Union'. Woodlands stand out both in variety and extent, among others, holm oaks, cork oaks, laurels, yew, holly, oak, Pyrenean oak, riverside and cliff woods, thickets, silver birch, hazel bushes and beech trees. These spectacular woodlands are often on high north facing slopes where all kinds of trees coexist in harmony. The most noteworthy are the Devesa de Rogueira and the Devesa da Escrita, both of which are within 5 km of the village of O Mazo.

This great wealth of biological variety lies on the oldest rocks of the Iberian Peninsular, mainly shale and quartzite that with limestone outcrops give a great variety of soil. The highest peaks are Formigueiros, at 1,639 m. and Piapaxaro, at 1,616 m.

O Courel has a population of less than 1,500 people, 30% less than even 15 years ago and 40% of whom are more than 65 years old. Initiatives like the O Mazo village are attempts to tackle the social and economic underdevelopment of the Courel region in the knowledge that this will be good both for those that visit and those that live here.