High mountain range of Etna (ITA070039)

High mountain range of Etna

Site type: SAC - Special Conservation Area

Code: ITA070009 - Hectares: 5951


The cacuminal part of Etna, an active Quaternary volcano, falls on this site. The area is between 1800 and 3300 m and in relation to the altitudes it is affected by an Oromediterranean or Cryo-Oromediterranean bioclimate with an umbrella typology between the lower humid and the upper humid ones. Furthermore, between the first half of the autumn and the first half of the spring, the slopes of the volcanic building are covered by a thick layer of snow. In the highest area the volcanic desert is observed due to the almost total absence of vegetation due to both the rigidity of the climate and the volcanic activity. Between 2000 and 2700 m on the surfaces not affected by recent lava flows, a pulvinate orophilic vegetation is established, represented by a more spaced and impoverished aspect dominated by Anthemis aetnensis and Rumex aetnensis or in the lower altitude stations by formations of Astragalus siculus. Mixed with astragaleti, in the most rocky stations, dwarf shrubs are found with Juniperus hemisphaerica and Berberis aetnensis. Below 2000 m there are forest formations represented by beech woods, limited to more mature soils, from pine forests to Pinus nigra ssp. calabrica in the more rocky stations, and from birch trees to Betula aetnensis in the more sandy stretches

It is a site of considerable naturalistic and landscape interest, as it coincides with the cacuminal area of ​​Etna which is periodically affected by intense volcanic activities. On these slopes there is also an extremely specialized and exclusive vegetation of the volcano, in which numerous endemics are concentrated which have a physiognomically significant role within these communities. Many of these species are rare or considered to be of significant phytogeographic interest, some of which are mentioned in the list in section 3.3 (D). summer aridity, cold winter temperatures, characterized by long periods of snow, frequent volcanic eruptions with a strong disturbance for animal communities. These extreme conditions require numerous adaptations, including the ability to recolonize the areas affected by the flows and the rainfall of ashes and lapilli relatively quickly. For this reason the fauna of the summit area of ​​Etna is of great scientific interest. Vertebrates are scarcely represented, while the greatest biodiversity is recorded among invertebrates which include numerous Sicilian endemics some of which are extremely localized, such as the Beetle Lionychus fleischeri focarilei, which lives exclusively in the summit areas of the volcano, inside the gullies and of the deep fissures of the lava.

Source: Ministry of the Environment Natura 2000 form

It falls within the Etna Park

Ministerial data: Ministerial Map  Natura 2000 form

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Region of Sicily

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