the natural reserves
The protection and enhancement of natural environments are activities promoted by local and national authorities through the establishment of protected natural areas with initiatives to preserve species and natural habitats.
Italy contemplates various types of protected natural areas; among them we find the Nature Reserves made up of terrestrial or wet areas, such as rivers, lakes and coastal areas where the naturalistic and environmental value is remarkable, combined with the importance represented by the cultural traditions of local communities.
In a natural reserve, agricultural and forest-pastoral activities can be carried out. They are not in contrast with the conservation and management purposes of the reserve. In order to achieve this objective, there are areas with diversified protection levels: the most important and characteristic aspects are within the so-called zone A (integral reserve), surrounded by the zone B, which acts as a buffer to the surrounding areas, where there are no protection criteria.
Capo Gallo Nature Reserve
The Capo Gallo Nature Reserve has an area of about 500 hectares; it was established in June 2001 and is located on the promontory between the towns of Mondello and Sferracavallo, in the province of Palermo.
The promontory on which it develops, of calcareous-dolomitic origin, represents the northern border of the mountains that surround the city of Palermo, with its reliefs that constitute the famous “Conca d’Oro”, an area that was once cultivated with citrus groves, fruit and olive trees and that today has been replaced by housing.
Into the reserve, the presence of caves of karst origin is of considerable interest both from the geological and archaeological point of view; into the caves, important findings of animal fossils and cave paintings dating back to the Paleolithic era have been made.
The reserve includes within itself a site of Community interest (SIC, with reference code ITA020006) within which 12 habitats of community interest have been identified, one of whom, the steppes of Mediterranean herbs, is of priority interest due to the reduced distribution area in the European territory.
There are many species of endemic fauna and flora, such as the emerald toad, the peregrine falcon and the vermetid reef as regards the fauna, or the cornflower of the cliffs, the chamomile of Monte Gallo and the sparrow of Monte Gallo, as to flora.
Monte Pellegrino Nature Reserve
The Mount Pellegrino Nature Reserve includes the mountain with the same name that dominates the city of Palermo, delimiting the northern border of the gulf where it opens.
The reserve, established in 1995, covers an area of over 1,000 hectares, almost entirely occupied by the zone A, which is constituted by the mountain relief and by Bosco Niscemi; Parco della Favorita represents the zone B (pre-reserve).
It is made up of limestone and calcareous-dolomitic rocks originating from the panormide platform characterized by steep slopes and karst phenomena that have created about a hundred caves, in which rock engravings dating back to the Paleolithic era have been found.
The reserve is part of the network of sites protected by the European Union and included in the Agenda Natura 2000 (reference code ITA020014) including 12 habitats of interest, two of which are priority areas (Mediterranean herbal steppes and Zyziphus arborescent matorral trees).
Although the impact on this reserve has very ancient origins, interventions are being carried out with the aim of bringing the environment back to greater naturalness. Nevertheless, there are many species of fauna including over 40 species of birds, among them the peregrine falcon, from which it is assumed that the mountain takes its name, as well as two endemic amphibians, such as the painted discoglossus and the emerald toad.
Among the flora, there are endemic species such as the cornflower of the cliffs or the orchids such as the Ophrys lunulata, which is a species of priority interest.
Capo Rama Nature Reserve
The Capo Rama Nature Reserve falls entirely within the territory of the town of Terrasini in the north of Monte Palmeto. It is relatively small and occupies an area of 57 hectares. In 2000, the reserve was established and managed by the WWF. Since 2005, an area of influence has been added to the reserve in the marine area between Capo Rama and Punta Catalana, to protect the vermetid reef there.
Since 1998, it has been included in the Agenda Natura 2000 (reference code ITA020009), identifying 11 habitats of Community interest, one of which is prioritary (subspecies of grasses and annual plants of Thero – Brachipodietea).
The importance of the reserve is linked to the geology of the territory, consisting of a carbonate cliff of Mesozoic age, originated at 200 meters depth, where there are karst phenomena, from which three geosites were identified: places considered relevant for the presence of important geological formations in which there are many fossil finds.
Equally important are the wood of dwarf palms, covering an area of 5 hectares, the low halophytic garrigue, and a rare exemple of Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos). The reserve is also included among the areas with special protection due to the presence of species of wintering birds (peregrine falcon, kestrel, etc.) and migratory along the routes to Africa (egrets, gray heron, etc.)