Serra de Collserola Natural Park – Barcelona, Spain

Serra de Collserola Natural Park – Barcelona, Spain
Area characterisation: 

Biogeographic region: Mediterranean

Surface area: 8120 ha

Country: Spain

Region/Province: Catalonia/Barcelona

Serra de Collserola Natural Park (CNP) is located in the north-western part of Barcelona and covers an area of 8170 ha. Collserola forms part of a complex network of protected green areas in the region and it is one of the hotspots of biodiversity in a highly urbanised landscape, with an important ecosystem services demand. It has a complex green infrastructure (mainly forests, but also scrublands, grasslands, croplands and aquatic environments). Patch forests (in the area of Font Groga) are among the best represented in Catalonia and they are considered of exceptional value.

The park also conserves an important cultural heritage (such as old churches which serve as meeting points for various pilgrimages and popular gatherings). CNP is also a reference for education and outdoor learning activities (Can Coll Environmental Education Centre) and it shelters a research station (Can Balasc, where CREAF developed permanent monitoring areas within the European Network LTER, Long Term Ecological Research Network).

Since 2006, the Serra de Collserola has formed part of the Natura 2000 Network, which was set up under the aegis of the EU Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna. In 2010, Serra de Collserola became a Natural Park, although the area had previously been protected by different legal instruments.

The Barcelona Metropolitan Territorial Plan (2010) includes the Serra de Collserola in the special protection category due to its natural and agricultural importance within the system of open spaces in the metropolitan area.


The Serra de Collserola Natural Park aims to regulate urban microclimate, enhance biodiversity and offer opportunities for education, recreation and leisure, sense of place and aesthetic values.


PRINCIPLE UF-NbS (Urban Forests as Nature-Based Solutions) ACTION(S)

  • Restoration of forest fringe areas (peri-urban)
  • River and riparian forests restoration (Vallvidrera)
  • Control and eradication of invasive trees (i.e. Ailanthus altissima)
  • Routes of therapeutic forests


  • Preservation of agricultural belts at the peri-urban fringe (i.e. in the Vallès plain)
  • Introduction of traditional practices to maintain certain habitats, decrease fire risks and promote landscape diversity (i.e. grazing)
  • Provision of sustainable food, cultivated in the park
  • Preservation and improvement of ecological connectors (i.e. small rivers, such as Riera de Sant Cugat, Riera de Vallvidrera, or Torrent de Can Cabassa)
  • Regulation of bicycle path networks and bike number
  • Dynamic naturalist and NGO´s actions to promote and disseminate the park´s values and the education for nature (i.e. “Birds party” includes birds watching, drawing and photo workshops, gamification, guided itineraries etc.)
NbS benefits 
  • Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale
  • Carbon sequestration and storage
  • Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
  • Increase well-being
  • Social learning about location & importance of NBS
Transferability of the result: 

Serra de Collserola Natural Park is one of the biggest metropolitan parks in Europe. The provision and conservation of both biodiversity and ecosystem services for Barcelona and the surrounding municipalities is of crucial importance, given the existing pressures derived from complex and rapid landscape changes and population demand in this area.

The strategies of the New Urban Master Plan and the Decision Support System that will be implemented and applied to various metropolitan parks in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona are good examples of transferability for protected green areas from other regions. Outdoor education is another best practice example of replicability.


City, regional general funds:

A participatory framework to renature the river basin of Vallvidrera was set up in 2007. Catalan Water Agency (ACA) executed the project.

National government funds:

The Barcelona Metropolitan Area has funded the Socioecological Integrated Analysis implementation for the assessment of scenarios for the Urban Master Plan to the whole metropolitan area. The calibration of the model under land-use planning also facilitates new scenario analysis of the UF-NbS proposals. The different scenarios already assessed allowed for a Decision Support System that will be the basis for a DSS on UF-NbS.

The Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities funded the project BIOLANDSCAPEs RTI2018-093970-B to identify historical cultural landscapes that provide multiple ES to society. The western slopes of the Serra de Collserola Natural Park still maintain certain bio-cultural agroforestry mosaics that can provide insights into the synergies and trade-offs of multi-functional spaces in peri-urban areas.

NbS classification 
  • Urban forest
  • Peri-urban forests
  • Shrubland
  • Community Garden
  • Urban grassland
  • Riverbank green

Consorci del Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola Ctra. de l’Església, 92

08017, Barcelona

Tel: + 34 932 803 552

Further information

The compilation of this case study description has been funded by the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821242.

Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 15. Life On Land
Key Performance Indicators: