The Gardunha mountain
‘Ocaya’ is the oldest known name given to the Gardunha mountain and has its origin in the Arabic term ‘refuge’. However, due to its location, it is also called ‘Guardian of Idanha’, a village on the south side of the mountain.
In 2004, the Gardunha mountain was classified as a Protected Landscape area: a safeguard of the diversity of fauna and flora and of the importance of the landscape and natural habitats. This classification is the recognition of the enlisting of this area in the national list of Special Conservation Zones of Rede Natura 2000 which is under the compliance of the European Directives for Birds and Habitats. The classified natural area of Gardunha is managed by Gardunha 21, an organisation that gathers various local entities whose goal is to sustainably promote and manage the natural resources that Gardunha has to offer. Moreover, Gardunha and its parishes and villages across the councils of Fundão and Castelo Branco are also part of the regional network iNature - Sustainable Tourism in Classified Areas - Collective Efficiency Strategy.
‘Gardunha’ - or ‘gardunho’ - is also a name given to the beech marten (martes foina), or house marten, inhabiting the many vegetal communities of the serra da Gardunha. This region is also home to several otters, Iberian-Emerald lizards, Gold-Striped salamanders and a wide variety of protected bird species such as the Montagu's harrier and the Booted eagle.
In the serra da Gardunha, granite, schist and water are abundant which deeply affects the geomorphology and diversity of the mountain. On the northern slopes, we can find woodlands of Pyrenean oaks, European oaks and chestnut grooves, as well as a type of asphodel - Asphodelus bento-rainhae, an endemic species only found on the north side of Gardunha. On the southern slopes, the landscape is mainly characterised by bushes of rockroses, heather and gorse, with some areas of cork oaks. At the higher altitudes, it is possible to observe vegetal communities of mountain broom and natural grasslands, which include ‘esparto’, a type of grass (Poaceae or Gramineae) used to produce hand made filters for olive oil production. Among the many vegetal species found in the serra da Gardunha, some are endangered: the sorb tree, the European holly and others.
Since the end of the 20th century, orchards, almost exclusively of cherry trees, characterise the serra da Gardunha, offering breathtaking landscapes during every season of the year.