Gibraltar

About the territory

Located at the entrance to the Mediterranean at latitude 36° 08’ North, longitude 05° 22’ West, Gibraltar is connected to Spain via a sandy isthmus. Gibraltar is around 5 km from north to south and is 1.2 km wide, covering a total area of around 6.5 km2. The Rock has a sheer cliff on the eastern side but is sloped more gently to the west; it rises to around 426m and is formed from Jurassic limestone. Average mean daily temperatures range from 13o C in January to 24o C in August. Annual precipitation is around 750-800 mm.

The City of Carteia was founded by the Phoenicians at the head of the Bay of Gibraltar in 940 BC. In about 190 BC the city was taken by the Romans. Subsequently, it was ruled at varying times by the Visigoths, Muslims, Berbers and Spanish. In 1501 Queen Isabella issued a decree which made Gibraltar Spanish Crown Property. In 1704 it was captured by an Anglo-Dutch force and was then ceded to Britain by Spain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht. At this time Gibraltar became an important British Royal Navy base. It was declared a Crown Colony in 1830. Currently, there is a democratically elected Parliament and a large degree of self-Government.

The population of Gibraltar was estimated to be around 29,430 in 2009. The economy in Gibraltar is mainly based on tourism, financial services and fishing.

Biodiversity

According to the Kew database the flora of Gibraltar consists of approximately 600 species of plants, three of which are regarded as endemic to Gibraltar, (Silene tomentosa), (Cerastium gibraltaricum) and (Saxifrage globulifera var. Gibralterica) (Iberis gibraltarica) and (Thymus wildenowii) are native to North Africa and Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where they are found. (Limonium emarginatum) is endemic to coastal waters on either sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, with extremely important populations on the Rock. There are a number of endemic land snails and sea slugs. Twenty two indigenous species of amphibians and reptiles have been recorded.

The Rock is an important site for migratory birds which account for most of the over 300 species that have been recorded there. It is also the only breeding site in Europe for the Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara).

Policy/Strategy background

The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) has produced a Biodiversity Action Plan for Gibraltar (Perez 2006) as well as a Management and Action Plan for the Upper Rock Nature Reserve (Perez & Bensusan 2005). These both have sections relating to the distribution and impact of non-native species and propose various action plans for dealing with them. The former was funded as a part of an OTEP funded project GIB001 (2004-07). The latter report was produced for the Government and funded in part by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund Objective2 Programme.


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