In 1981, the Serra da Malcata Nature Reserve was created with the main objective of conserving the most threatened European feline - the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). It is located at the confluence of Beira Baixa and Beira Alta and is delimited to the east by Spain, and boasts an interesting wealth of flora and fauna. Here, the courses of the Côa, Bazégueda and Meimoa rivers exert and maintain a significant influence on the landscape.
Due to the climate, the local forests are characterised by Pyrenean oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) in the north, and holm oaks (Quercus ilex) and strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) in the south. Along the watercourses, the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), the common alder (Alnus glutinosa) and the willow (Salix spp.) are prominent. However, it is the scrub forests that best characterise the Reserve, where it is possible to find white broom (Cytisus multiflorus), Portuguese broom (Cytisus striatus), gum cistus (Cistus ladanifer), Spanish heath (Erica australis), Montpellier cistus (Cistus monspeliensis) and carqueja (Pterospartum tridentatum), as well as a considerable area occupied by pine forests.
The climate and vegetation favour the presence of a large variety of reptiles, such as the Mediterranean pond turtle (Mauremys leprosa), the Iberian emerald lizard (Lacerta scheriberi) and, in particular, various species of snake. The water courses allow the identification of fish species such as brown trout (Salmo trutta), common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and common chub (Leuciscus cephalus cabeda); and amphibians, such as the Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl), Bosca’s newt (Triturus boscai), the Iberian frog (Rana iberica), the common toad (Bufo bufo). Among birds, the little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), the Eurasian blue tit (Parus caeruleus), the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) and the cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) can be found. Finally, mammals include the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the beech marten (Martes foina), the common genet (Genetta genetta), the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and the European wildcat (Felis silvestris).