At the end of last year, the Andalucian government named nine new natural monuments, including five in Malaga province. This means that these beauty spots - such as peñas (hills), fuentes, meandros and riberas (sources, loops, and banks, of rivers), tajos (cliffs), and cuevas (caves) - are formally recognised and protected, offering an official new attraction, and boosting tourism for each local area.
Those in Malaga are: Tajos del Alcazar in Alcaucin; popular caving destination Cueva del Gato in Benaojan; the Cuenca del Rio Turon viewpoint in El Burgo; the source of the River Genal in Igualeja; and the source of the River Guadalhorce (Fuente de los Cien Caños) in Villanueva del Trabuco.
As well as the monuments in Malaga, four other provinces have each received the classification for a situation: La Peña de Arcos de la Frontera (Cadiz), El Meandro del Guadalquivir in Montoro (Cordoba), Los Tajos de Alhama de Granada and la Ribera del Guadaira, in Alcala de Guadaira (Sevilla).
There are now a total of 49 natural monuments in Andalucia.
This gives extra protection for areas or elements which also include dunas (dunes), islotes (small islands), centuries-old trees, and rock formations.
To receive the classification the monument must fulfil the following criteria: be well-conserved, accessible to the public, recognized by citizens and have agents jointly responsible for protecting it.
The sites are chosen taking into account the rulings of the Environment Department, studies by Andalucian universities, and in consultation with local groups and associations.