Nature Trails. The Programme

Caminos Naturales. El Programa

At a time when the importance of nature is growing steadily in human consciences and exercising in the open air is increasingly forming part of our new perception of health, the General State Administration wishes to contribute to observing and preserving our natural spaces through the recovery of infrastructures that have fallen into disuse and which will allow such enjoyment of the natural environment where they are located. This recovery is carried out through the Nature Trails Network (Red de Caminos Naturales).

The Nature Trails Programme

The Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación) has been running the Nature Trails Programme (Programa de Caminos Naturales) since 1993. On the basis of this Programme, the Ministry has created the Nature Trails Network (Red de Caminos Naturales) with more than 10,300 kilometres, of which near 1,500 are green ways, the name they receive on being implemented on former railway platforms.

The main goal of the Nature Trails Programme, is to promote and enhance these trails and to make citizens more aware of their existence. Their implementation contributes to the sustainable development of rural areas by reusing transport infrastructures, livestock trails, railway platforms, towpaths, traditional pathways in disuse or opening up new paths, and enabling citizens to draw closer to nature and rural areas in general, meeting a growing demand for the eco-recreational use of the countryside by the population. As part of the task of promoting the green tracks that the Ministry has been creating, it has cooperated efficiently with the Railway Foundation, reaching agreements, once the works were finished, with developers to disseminate them at the national and international level, through the Greenways Programme.

Fulfilment of the following goals is intended through the use of these infrastructures as nature trails:

  • To maintain the public use of communication infrastructures.
  • To meet social demands for alternative tourist services.
  • To provide citizens with easy access to sporting, cultural, educational and nature-related experiences.
  • To encourage the sustainable development of the action area by boosting economic resources, fomenting employment and fostering the settlement of citizens in their place of origin.

The actions to be carried out in order to adapt these environmental infrastructures to their new use are comprised of two stages:

1) Refurbishment of the infrastructures which will be financed by the Ministry, through this centre’s own budgets.

2) Maintenance of the works carried out and management of the recreational activities that are generated around these new infrastructures, whose costs shall be assumed by the developing entity.

Key figures

Membership of the Programme

Public entities that wish to form part of the Nature Trails Programme (Programa de Caminos Naturales) can apply for membership by submitting the following documentation:

  • Project for the refurbishment works of the layout of the infrastructure whose integration in the Programme is intended.
  • Commitment agreement of the developing entity stating that:
    • The land where the works will be carried out is available.
    • It will assume the maintenance and preservation tasks of the works once they are finished.
    • It accepts any property and extra-contractual liability in the event of any hypothetical damage or accident occurred on the land and/or real estate which form part of the “Nature Trail” or are linked to it, or which, as a consequence of restricted maintenance, may be caused to adjacent properties, users or persons located in the vicinity.


Since 1993, when the programme began, more than 10,300 km of nature trails had been built and made avaible to the public use. Investment by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación) up until the end of 2019 amounts 250.5 million euros and has already benefitted hundreds of municipalities. The number of kilometres of new nature trails executed every year has risen with a significant increase in recent years.

In recent years, the increase in kilometres has been considerable due to the start-up of long-haul trails such as those of Ruta del Cantábrico, Matarraña-algars, Vía de la Plata, Santander - Mediterráneo, etc.

Nature Trails investments (million €) Nature Trails kilometers
Year Annual Amount Year Annual Amount
1993 0.3 0.3 1993 12 12
1994 0.2 0.5 1994 8 20
1995 2.8 3.3 1995 37 57
1996 1.9 5.2 1996 45 102
1997 2.2 7.4 1997 64 166
1998 3.0 10.4 1998 71 237
1999 5.0 15.4 1999 143 380
2000 6.2 21.6 2000 174 554
2001 6.5 28.1 2001 175 729
2002 8.4 36.5 2002 183 912
2003 6.8 43.3 2003 117 1029
2004 5.5 48.8 2004 136 1165
2005 5.7 54.5 2005 119 1284
2006 8.9 63.4 2006 225 1509
2007 14.7 78.1 2007 350 1859
2008 16.5 94.6 2008 550 2409
2009 45.0 139.6 2009 702 3111
2010 27.0 166.6 2010 969 4080
2011 20.4 187.0 2011 3462 7542
2012 7.5 194.5 2012 947 8489
2013 5.2 199.7 2013 112 8601
2014 8.4 208.1 2014 230 8831
2015 5.9 214.0 2015 370 9201
2016 8.2 222.2 2016 260 9461
2017 8.1 230.3 2017 336 9797
2018 7.8 238.1 2018 277 10074
2019 6,1 244,2 2019 168 10242
2020 6,3 250,5 2020 86 10328
Nature Trails investments (million €) Nature Trails kilometers
Gráfico de inversiones

National Programme for Rural Development 2014-2020 (PNDR)

Rural development assistance co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) in the 2014-2020 programming period is channeled in Spain through different rural development programmes (one for each autonomous community) and one national, the National Programme for Rural Development 2014-2020 (Programa Nacional de Desarrollo Rural - PNDR).

The PNDR is directed to the financing of rural development actions declared of general interest, of supra-autonomous scope or whose competence corresponds to the General State Administration (Administración General del Estado - AGE), in accordance with six rural development priorities established by the European Union. The PNDR has been structured in different measures and sub-measures, one of them being for the construction of Natural Trails. This sub-measure allows the cofinancing of natural trails of supra-autonomous or insular environment up to 53% of its cost.

The actions included in the PNDR are as follows:

  • Vía de la Plata Nature Trail. Alba de Tormes-Carbajosa de La Sagrada section (Salamanca)
  • La Mancha Wetlands Nature Trail. Guadiana Nature Trail (Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo)
  • Removal of the discontinuity in stage 27 of Guadiana Nature Trail (Badajoz)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Abejar-Soria section (Soria)
  • Former Baeza-Utiel railway Nature Trail: Reolid station-Jaen province limit (Albacete)
  • Matarranya-Algars Nature Trail (Teruel)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Calatayud section (Zaragoza)
  • Cantabrian Sea Nature Trail: O Vicedo-Ladrido stage (A Coruña)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. San Leonardo-Abejar section (Soria)
  • Vía de la Plata Nature Trail. Béjar-Baños de Montemayor section (Salamanca and Cáceres)
  • Vía de la Plata Nature Trail. Barcial del Barco-León province limit section (Zamora)
  • Basque Navarre Railway Nature Trail. Estella/Lizarra-Murieta section (Navarra)
  • Plazaola Nature Trail. Irurtzun-Sarasa section (Navarra)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Cojóbar-cruce con N-234 section (Burgos)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Hontoria del Pinar station-Soria province limit (Burgos)
  • Vía de la Plata Nature Trail: Hervás-Casas del Monte section (Cáceres)
  • Matarranya-Algars Nature Trail. Phase III (Tarragona) 
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Campo de Daroca region section (Zaragoza) (in progress)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Castellanos de Bureba - Cidad-Dosante section (Burgos) (in progress)
  • Vía de la Plata Nature Trail. Plasencia station-Jarilla section (Cáceres) (in progress)
  • River Júcar Nature Trail. Cuenca province section (Cuenca) (in progress)
  • Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Valcorba-Ciria section (Soria) (in progress)
Logo Fondo Europeo Agrícola de Desarrollo Rural

Nature Trails is a registered trademarlk in the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office to the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. (Marca Nacional Multiclase Nº 2.899.840)