This article identifies the current explosion of conservation policies in the Pyrenees as the most recent wave of a long-standing tradition of state-driven territorial policies. The very existence of these policies cannot be understood without taking into account the consequences of two hundred years of territorial rationalization, land expropriation and natural resource control. Depopulation, agricultural involution and forest recovery are partial consequences, not necessarily intended, of the expansion of the modern Spanish state. In addition to identifying a similar ideological background for the four phases of the model presented here (municipalization, disentailment, expropriation and parks implementation), I also argue that the territorial composition of the current protected areas would be impossible without the synergistic effects of the preceding state actions. This article establishes a deep historical political genealogy of territorial appropriation that has consequences at all levels of the local landscape.