THE GOVERNING BOARD of the Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifachas approved the creation of a commission to prepare an application to UNESCO for the rock to be recognised as a World Heritage Site.
The commission will apply for the rock to enter the ‘mixed heritage’ category – that is culture and nature together.
The commission will be made up of representatives from the Generalitat Valenciana, the Ministry of Environment, the Valencian Tourism Agency, Calpe Town Council, Alicante Provincial Council, the General Directorate of Costas, the University of Alicante, MARQ and other environmental and social associations.
“The preparation of the application for the rock to be recognised as a World Heritage Site will prove arduous work but the Board of Directors we consider that it is the definitive recognition that the Penyal is lacking” said President of the Governing Board, Guillem Sendra.
The Penyal d’Ifac is a massive limestone outcrop emerging from the sea and linked to the shore by rock debris. It is home to numerous rare plants, including several endemic species, over 300 species of animals and a nesting site for colonies of sea birds and other birds.
Rising to 332 metres high, the rock is a striking visual feature of the Mediterranean coastline. Historically it was known to the Phoenicians as the Northern Rock, to distinguish it from its southern counterpart, the Rock of Gibraltar.
Behind Penyal d’Ifac is a large lagoon cut off from the sea by strips of sandy beach and extending inland to the coastal mountains. The wetland area around the lagoon is all that remains of the formerly much more extensive wetlands of the Marina Alta.
A protracted campaign to protect the site’s unique natural diversity led to the area being granted natural park status in January 1987.
With an area of 45 hectares, it is the smallest natural park in Spain, possibly in Europe. The park ranges from sea level to an altitude of 332 metres at the summit of the rock.
From the top of the rock there are views over the surrounding villages and countryside and on a clear day as far across the sea as Ibiza.