Catalonia boasts a rich natural heritage and extensive biodiversity, both of which are specially protected. It is a land full of natural areas of great contrast, from the country’s majestic mountainous landscape, the Pyrenees, to the ecosystem of the Delta de l’Ebre, the extensive plains, like the large Central Ebro Depression, and the entire string of peaks that line the coastal area. The country´s most important natural spaces are preserved by means of a network of parks and reserves. The only Catalan national park is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, with high Pyrenees mountains and huge biodiversity, characterised by its lakes and streams. There are eleven natural parks throughout the entire area: Aiguamolls del Empordà, Cadí-Moixeró, Cap de Creus, Alt Pirineu, Delta de l’Ebre, Els Ports, El Montseny, Montserrat, Sant Llorenç del Munt, the Montsant mountain range and the volcanic area of La Garrotxa. Catalonia also has three natural areas of national interest (L´Albera, Poblet and the Pedraforca massif), a natural reserve (Llobregat Delta) and a marine reserve (Medes Islands). The Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN) protects up to 165 natural areas in order to preserve the country´s most characteristic geological richness, habitats and ecosystems.
Thanks to the 580 kilometres of Catalan coast, the beaches have become one of its most important natural resources. The country’s coastal regions are part of the tourist areas, with beaches as popular as those along the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada coasts. The water resources divide the territory into two areas that cover the same amount of land but which are very different: the western or Ebro part (average annual contributions of over 18,000 cubic hectometres from rivers such as the Ebro, Segre, Noguera Pallaresa and Noguera Ribagorçana) and the eastern or Mediterranean part (contributions of 2,000 cubic hectometres per year from rivers such as the Llobregat, Ter, Fluvià, Muga and Besòs).