The Valle del Ambroz (Ambroz Valley) is a located in the north of Extremadura region and is mostly included in two Natura 2000 sites. It is a relatively small district with only eight towns, whose economies are based on agriculture and livestock. Two of the towns have a long tradition of tourism but only during the summer months. The area’s landscape is stunning, with mountains over 2000m high covered in dense chestnuts and oak forests, and a deep valley. This is where the Otoño Mágico (Magic Autumn) takes place. The autumn colours are especially attractive with reds, browns and yellows in abundance.
The magic autumn initiative started in 1998 and has continued uninterrupted ever since (20 editions). The initiative set out to address two main challenges. The first is to tackle the decrease in human populations in this rural area by helping them to diversify the local economy through tourism. The second is to give value to the environment, to raise awareness of the fragility and importance of the area, and the reasons why it is protected under Natura 2000.
Every year, a range of activities take place during the month of November. They include music, hiking, sports, photos, mountain biking, mushroom picking and many other activities around the theme of nature, such as the Dia de la Trashumancia (cattle migration day), remembering old shepherds and the wolf. Dozens of local associations (touristic, environmental, women, youth associations, etc), local authorities and local businesses are involved in the initiative which is steered by the Local Action Group (LAG).
Today there are more than 25,000 visitors every November, which has earned it the title of Festivity of Regional Tourist Interest since 2011, and the national award CONAMA for the Sustainability of Little and Medium Municipalities at 2013. The overall budget to organise the annual event is around 100,000 euros while the generated amount is over 2,000,000 euros per year.
Today the Magic Autumn at Ambroz Valley is a recognised brand (and registered as such in the Spanish Office of Patents and Trademarks), whose image is strongly connected to that of the Natura 2000 network. The people, locals and tourists alike have made it theirs, and its future survival is thus guaranteed. The initiative is also contributing to protecting Natura 2000 areas and creating local employment.