Simeto Oasis - Nature Reserve

Simeto Oasis - Nature Reserve

National and community legislation on protected areas

(Provisions for the defense of the sea) (Framework law on protected areas) (Provisions for the development and qualification of interventions and employment in the environmental field) (New interventions in the environmental field)

Law n. 157 of 11 February 1992

implementing Directive 79/409 / EEC (Birds Directive) published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic, general series, no. 46 of 25 February 1992. It contains rules for the protection of homeothermic wildlife and for hunting.

Decree of the President of the Republic 8 September 1997, n. 357. transposing Directive 92/43 / EEC

(Habitat Directive) relating to the conservation of natural and semi-natural habitats, as well as wild flora and fauna, published in the Official Gazette. general series n. 248 of 23 October 1997.

Decree of the Minister of the Environment January 20, 1999,

in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic, general series, n. 23 of 9 February 1999, containing amendments to annexes A and B of the Presidential Decree 8 September 1997, n. It reports the lists of habitats and species updated after the accession of some new States to the Union.

Judgment of the Constitutional Court n. 425 of 27 October - 10 November 1999

published in the Official Gazette, special series, no. 46 of 17 November 1999. Is the name that the Council of Ministers of the European Union has assigned to a set of areas intended for the conservation of the biological diversity of the territory of the Union and in particular for the protection of a series of habitats and animal species and vegetables

Below, the relevant legislation:

Directive n. 79/409 / EEC of the Council of 2 April 1979

(Birds Directive) concerning the conservation of wild birds, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities no. 103 of 25 April 1979.

Directive n. 92/43 / EEC of the Council of 21 May 1992

(Habitat Directive) relating to the conservation of natural and semi-natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna. Published in the Official Journal of the European Communities no. 206 of 22-7-92. In Italy it was implemented with the Decree of the President of the Republic 8 September 1997, n. 357.

Commission Directive of 6 March 1991

amending Council Directive 79/409 / EEC concerning the conservation of wild birds (91/244 / EEC), published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic, II special series, no. 45 of 13 June 1991. (It includes amendments to the annexes to the Birds Directive)

Bibliographic sources: Protected areas of the Ministry of the Environment and Land and Sea Protection

Simeto Oasis

The nature reserve "Oasi del Simeto" was established with the decree of the Councilor for the Territory and Environment of March 14, 1984. With a subsequent decree of May 30, 1987 the regulation of the reserve was approved.

The nature reserve was established for the protection of environments that in Sicily have become highly rarefied compared to the extensions they had in the past.

The nature reserve, in fact, today includes a small portion of the vast complex of marshy fluvial environments of fresh and brackish water and coastal dunes that extended in most of the Plain of Catania up to the Biviere di Lentini, covering an exceptional naturalistic interest.

The wetlands were separated from the sea by a coastal strip of dunes that extended from the Biscari lighthouse to Agnone and which, according to the descriptions of numerous authors, was on average two kilometers wide and eight meters high.

The execution of hydraulic reclamation works and, subsequently, the anthropization of some areas, have resulted in a substantial loss of this natural heritage. In particular, the natural environments of the reserve have been the subject, since the 70s of the last century, of a vast phenomenon of illegal construction that continued massively even after the establishment of the protected area.

The hydraulic works carried out on the Simeto basin have instead produced negative effects on the hydrological, hydrogeological and sedimentological balances of the reserve which risk worsening both with the implementation of the further planned interventions and in the absence of corrective actions for those carried out.

Despite the attacks suffered, the reserve is of significant naturalistic interest and high potential, especially as an area for the protection of birdlife as well as for the presence of extremely diverse environments. The identification of much of the territory of the reserve as a Site of Community Importance (S.I.C.) and a Special Protection Area (Z.P.S.), pursuant to directives nos. 92/43 / EEC and 79/409 / EEC, is a further confirmation of this naturalistic interest.

The purposes of protecting wetlands and coastal sandy ones are clearly spelled out in the decree establishing the reserve: "favoring and increasing the conditions for stopping and nesting of avifauna and the restoration of psammoalophilous and Mediterranean vegetation". These purposes, as well as the type of nature reserve oriented, must direct the protection towards forms of management which, in addition to guaranteeing the conservation of the environments in natural conditions, provide for interventions aimed at recovering from the naturalistic point of view the areas more or less deteriorated by anthropic intervention.

The reserve includes the terminal stretch of the Simeto river which was rectified and dammed between the 1950s and 1960s. The aforementioned works separated from the new course a large meander that the river formed immediately before the mouth. However, this meander survived, being fed by emergencies from the aquifer.

About a kilometer from the mouth of the old loop, two rivers converge: the Jungetto canal (an ancient reclamation canal that currently receives the discharges from the Catania purifier) ​​and the Buttaceto stream, whose waters reach the old loop essentially during the flood events.

The overflows due to the floods of the Buttaceto stream do not significantly alter the salinity parameters of the mouth area of ​​the old Simeto loop, being the supply of fresh water of limited duration, while those of an artificial nature due to the Jungetto for quality, quantity and duration are altering the existing hydrobiological balances.

Between the old branch of the Simeto and the Buttaceto stream there is a vast reed bed where thousands of birds find refuge. To the north of the old meander there are some backdunal ponds of brackish water, commonly known as "salatelle", whose delicate ecological balances are threatened and partly already altered by the aforementioned overflows of the Jungetto canal.

Simeto Oasis - Nature Reserve

The territory delimited as a natural reserve Oasi del Simeto is what remains of an ancient and vast marshy ecosystem that extended south of the city of Catania and which included several wetlands, including that of Agnone, Valsavoia and Pantano di Catania. . The environments that survived the relentless anthropization of this area, falling within the reserve are: Lake Gornalunga, formed by the homonymous tributary of the Simeto Lake Gurnazza, dammed by the coastal dunes the Salatelle, vast brackish marshes, formed by the capillarity of the coastal area the new mouth, cut after the great flood of 1951 and crossed by the Primosole bridge the old focal shaft, in the shape of a sickle, now isolated and fed by the Buttaceto and Jungetto canals.

Some pioneers, the most authoritative of which the engineer Angelo Priolo, now dean of the Italian ornithologists, began in the early forties to observe and record data on the fauna in the area. The data collected, even in the following years, highlighted the richness of the fauna, but also the slow decline in the variety of species present.

In the early 1970s the awareness of the need to save the area from the aggression of unauthorized building and to protect the fauna and flora began to spread. Several environmental associations and also trade unions took to the field. This movement, which saw Mrs. Wendy Hennessy Mazza of Lipu at the forefront, obtained in 1975 the establishment of a wildlife protection oasis with a decree of the councilor of Agriculture and Forests of the Sicilian Region. In the following years the battles of the protectionists continued (CGIL, CISL and UIL included in the Catania Project the goal of an international competition of ideas to create the territorial park of the Oasi del Simeto, foreseen by the PRG, a competition then completed, but without any practical outcome) also to obtain the demolition of illegal buildings. Only in 1984 the Oriented Nature Reserve of the Simeto Oasis was established and in 1989 the demolition of 54 illegal houses arrived.

Today the building trend, after the repressive interventions and the informative and educational activity, seems to have stopped, even if a certain anthropic pressure continues, especially in reference to the uncontrolled use of the sandy coastal area. To decisively reverse the trend, a rigorous discipline would be required to protect the most fragile natural areas.

The Simeto, the largest of the Sicilian rivers in terms of basin and flow, has created the ecosystem on which the Reserve stands. It originates in the Serra del Re, one of the highest peaks in the Nebrodi mountain range.

Along its path, inside the reserve, it is bordered by plants typical of muddy soils: Reeds, Reeds for mat, Bones with narrow leaves. Beyond this muddy belt there is a flat area, subject to winter flooding and summer desiccation, whose vegetation is composed of Tamerici, Prickly, acute and southern rushes, Common and pedicellated willows.

A third band, formed by a more impermeable, clayey and salt-covered soil, consists of a vegetation of small succulent-leaved shrubs, such as the Salicornia fruticosa, the Suaeda marittima, the Atriplice portulacoide and the common Limonio.

The sandy coast on the sides of the river mouth has an even richer vegetation: wild wallflower, Salsola, Santolina, Maritime Polygon and Ravastrello Marittimo, along the Gramigna beach shoreline, Sparto pungente, Myrtle, Cornflower of the beaches, Lily of the beaches, spots of Lentisco and Olivastro, in the interior and along the sandy dunes.

The areas away from the river once formed a dense evergreen shrub. Today, following the subsequent reclamation works, they have been occupied by crops. There are numerous birds that, during the migration, stop at the mouth. Gray heron, white heron, purple heron, godwit, black-tailed godwit, glossy dog, curlew, ischione, avocet, shelduck, golden plover, oystercatcher, little egret, squacco heron, night heron, spoonbill, fighter and stilt are the most common species representative. Equally numerous are the resident birds. In marshy areas the moorhen and coot are very common, while the little grebe, the little bittern, the ferruginous duck and the water rail are very common.

Simeto Oasis Nature Reserve

It is located at the mouth of the Simeto river, from which it takes its name, in the plain of Catania, on the coast of Plaia overlooking the Ionian sea. The area also includes the area of ​​the mouth of the Gornalunga river.

The vegetation of the final stretch of the river is essentially made up of marsh reeds and bushes of tamarisk and glasswort among which a great variety and quantity of birds find shelter. Along the dunes that flank the sandy coasts, a vegetation grows composed of wild violet, Salsola, Santolina, Maritime polygon, Maritime Ravastrello, mat rushes, narrow-leaved bones, Tamarisk, Prickly, acute and southern rushes, common and pedicellated willows, the Suaeda Marittima, the Triple Portulacoid and the Common Limonio. The right bank of the Simeto river features pine and eucalyptus groves up to the area of ​​Lake Gornalunga.

The Simeto oasis can be easily reached with the S.S.114 from Catania proceeding in the direction of Syracuse or through the Catania ring road from the last exit Ponte Primosole.

The oasis was born thanks to Wendy Hennessy Mazza and the LIPU who in 1975 managed to create an oasis of wildlife protection. In 1984 it became a regional reserve.

Regional nature reserves consist of terrestrial, river, lake or marine areas that contain one or more naturalistically relevant species of fauna and flora, or that present one or more ecosystems important for biological biodiversity or for the conservation of genetic resources.

The glasswort is an ecosystem characterized by the predominant presence of halophytic species of the Chenopodiaceae family (or Amaranthaceae according to the APG classification), commonly called glasswort.


  • 1 Geography
  • 2 Peculiarities of the route
    • 2.1 Lava gorges
    • 2.2 Pietralunga section
  • 3 ancient bridges on the Simeto
    • 3.1 Roman bridge of Pietralunga
    • 3.2 Bridge of the Saracens
    • 3.3 Norman bridge
    • 3.4 Biscari bridge-aqueduct
  • 4 The Simeto Oasis at the mouth
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 Related items
  • 7 Other projects
  • 8 External links

The Simeto river originates about 10 km north-west of Bronte, from the union of the Cutò river with the Martello river and the Saracena river, all gushing from the slopes of the Nebrodi mountains.

Immediately after passing under the Ponte della Cantera, the river receives the first notable tributary from the right, the Troina. From here the river takes a southerly direction, channeling itself among the volcanic remains formed by the eruptions of Etna. The volcano is in fact, as the same river laps the entire western part of the base.

Arrived near Adrano, it flows, acting as a border, between the provinces of Catania and Enna, receiving from the right one of its main tributaries, the Salso river, considered by some to be one of its major spring branches. From here the river continues pointing slightly south-east, crossing Paternò.

Arrived at the locality the Rotondella, the Simeto enters the wide plain of Catania, flowing with a slow and sinuous course. Here it receives from the right, respectively 8 km and 2 km from the mouth, the last 2 important tributaries of its basin: the Dittaino and the Gornalunga, after which it flows into the Ionian Sea (Gulf of Catania), south of the metropolitan area of ​​Catania, in the Primosole district.

The Simeto is a torrential river, with floods in autumn and winter (even higher than 1,500 m³ / s) and with moments of drought in the summer.

Lava ravines Edit

The Simeto lava gorges are gorges, with walls of variable height between 5 and 15 m, dug by the Simeto river in the basalt formed following lava flows from Etna. The nature reserve covers an area of ​​1217,052 hectares [without source] falling within the municipalities of Bronte, Adrano and Centuripe.

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