The Serra da Gardunha Regional Protected Landscape was created on 16 May 2014 due to its acknowledged value and the importance of its inclusion on the national list of Natura 2000 Network Sites of Community Importance (SCI), as a Special Conservation Area (SCA) under the Habitats Directive.
The Serra da Gardunha belongs to the Central Mountain Range, as a branch of the Serra da Estrela, which extends in a northeast-southwest direction for 20 kilometres, with a maximum altitude of 1,227 metres, establishing a natural barrier between the Castelo Branco and Cova da Beira plains.
This area has a high degree of biodiversity, in which it is possible to find features characteristic of the north, centre and south of the country. Granite, shale and water influence its geomorphology and the diversity of the landscape, along with human intervention, in particular cherry trees and forest areas.
In terms of flora, on the northern slope there are habitats consisting of sweet chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), pedunculate or common oaks (Quercus robur) and Pyrenean oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) as well as the asphodelus (Asphodelus bento-rainhae), which is endemic to this Portuguese territory. On the other hand, the southern slope consists of a variety of scrub forest, including species such as heathers and non-littoral Mediterranean heaths (Erica), as well as caldoneira (Echinospartum ibericum), which is endemic to the Iberian peninsula.
Its fauna includes the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), the Iberian emerald lizard (Lacerta scheriberi), the golden-striped salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica), the Iberian nase (Chrondrostoma polypepis), the Iberian roach (Rutilus alburnoides) and the marsh fritillary (Euphydrya aurinia), but also a variety of protected birds, such as the Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus) and the booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus).
In addition to plant communities, such as temporary Mediterranean pools and residual alluvial forests, Serra da Gardunha is of great interest from the standpoint of geomorphology, given the value of its granite outcrops on a worldwide scale. Traditionally a travel route, its historical and cultural features are also important, and include dozens of archaeological finds and listed properties.