Mouth of the Irminio River (ITA080001)
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Mouth of the Irminio River

Site type: SAC - Special Conservation Area

Code: ITA080001 - Hectares: 189


The site is characterized by a significant example of Juniper and Lentisk scrub forest on a dune cordon and riparian vegetation along the final stretch of the river
Irminio. It falls within the territory of the Municipalities of Ragusa and Scicli.The climate of the area is lower dry lower thermomediterranean according to the Rivas criterion
Martinez adapted to Sicily by Brullo & al. (1996) Analytically it is divided into various habitats. 1) A part of considerable extension is constituted by the cordon
dune generated over time by the sands carried by the Irminio river, which has its estuary here. This cordon in the part facing the sea is covered by
formations to Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa (Ephedro-Juniperetum macrocarpae Bartolo, Brullo & Marcenò 1982, referable to code 2250), while
in the inland part it is covered by a patch of Pistacia lentiscus, Ephedra fragilis and Lycium intricatum, with scattered individuals of Myrtus communis and therefore a
slight impact on the vegetal landscape [Myrto-Pistacietum lentisci (Molinier 1954 em. O. Bolós 1962) Rivas Martinez 1975 + Ephedro-Pistacietum lentisci Brullo,
Guarino & Ronsisvalle 1998, both associations belonging to Quercetea ilicis Br. Bl. (1936) 1947, and tending to the Quercetum ilicis climax represented here sub
codification 9340] .2) A second part is given by the seat of the ancient retrodunal marsh (part of the much larger swamps known as the "Mazzarelli"), today
dried up and bearing mosaic formations, still evolving, marked by the dominance of various facies of the Pistacietum lentisci. 3) A third part is given
from the western stretch (outside the dune) characterized by the presence of both Palmetto (Chamaerops humilis) and Retama raetam subsp. gussonei (afferent both
formations to codification 5330). 4) A fourth part characterized by dunes in an embryonic state (more developed along the coast line east side) and
characterized by the presence of Atriplex tornabenii, Elymus farctus, Eryngium maritimum, Cakile maritima, Elymus farctus, Pancratium maritimum (afferent to
codification 2110). 5) A fifth part characterized by the mesophilic backdune of the dunes in the embryonic state (more developed along the east side coast line)
and characterized by the presence of Limonium virgatum, Elymus athericus (Link) Kerguélen, Aeluropus littoralis (Gouan) Parl., Juncus acutus (afferent to the codification
1410). 6) A sixth part characterized by sheltered tunnel woods (pertaining to codification 92A0) dominated by Salix alba, Populus nigra and lianas (mainly
due to Clematis vitalba). These formations wind along the course of the Irminio river. 7) A seventh part characterized by formations with
Calicotome infesta and Rhus tripartita (Calicotomo-Rhoetum tripartitae Bartolo, Brullo & Marcenò 1982, of the order Oleo-Ceratonion and attributable to the codification
5330) located on the left side of the river Irminio, on sloping and heavily pebbly land. 8) A part in Contrada Maulli occupied in part by garrigue a
dominance of rock Phagnalon and in part by formations on calcareous-arenaceous rocks. 9) Finally a ninth part characterized by recently planted crops in
Vitis vinifera, located on the north-east side of the site.

The site preserves a forest scrub with Maritime Juniper and Lentisk on dune cordons, which represents an exceptional testimony of the vegetation and
landscape that once characterized and connoted the sandy coasts of southern Sicily. These aspects, now almost completely disappeared, have one
considerable scientific importance, due to the numerous plants and animals linked to and adapted to the psamic, dune and retro-dune environments, which are in danger of
extinction in relation to the disappearance and / or rarefaction of their elective habitats, determined by the urbanization and the massive use of the beaches
for bathing and more generally for tourism purposes. In the last few centuries and mainly during the XNUMXth century, estuary dunes have been everywhere, or
flattened or freed from vegetation cover (for both agricultural and urban planning purposes - houses and villas by the sea), so that the Irminio Dune has remained almost a case
single (there is a similar dune cordon also in Vendicari, but with distinct facies). The Irminio Dune has values ​​that require its conservation
for the following reasons: a) as it is the living example of the direction to follow in the processes of reconstitution of naturalness, where this reconstitution is
proves necessary for the conservation of natural resources (soil, aquifers, etc.) or for their restoration; b) it is the optimum among the habitats for rare or peculiar species
absolutely to be preserved in order to contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity at a global level [Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa (Sm.) Ball, Lycium
intricatum Boiss., Asparagus horridus L. in Murray, Launaea fragilis (Asso) Pau, Ephedra fragilis Desf., Retama raetam subsp. gussonei (Webb) Greuter,
Phillyrea latifolia L., Rhus tripartita (Ucria) Grande, Rhus pentaphylla (Jacq.) Desf.]. Some areas on the W side of the SCI (shared with type A areas of the
Biogenetic Reserve "Foce Irminio" and located in the Maulli district), with morphology of dunes in an embryonic state (pertaining to codification 2110), are of great
naturalistic interest. Important in this respect are the species Atriplex halimus L., Echium arenarium Guss., Launaea resedifolia (L.) O. Kuntze, Otanthus
maritimus (L.) Hoffmanns. et Link, Senecio glaucus L. subsp. hyblaeus Brullo. They, which also extend outside the SIC (but fall within the Reserve)
suggest that it would be desirable for them to become part of a future re-measured SCI, in order to bring SCI and Nature Reserve to have perimeters
coincident. The formations on arenaceous-calcareous rock, falling within the SIC and within zone A of the Contrada Maulli Reserve and the character-bearing formations
garrigue are rich in both rarities and endemisms. The following species are important in this stretch of the area: Biscutella maritima Ten. (Endemic), Calendula
arvensis subsp. bicolor (Raf.) Nyman, Calendula suffruticosa Vahl (Endemic), Desmazeria pignattii Brullo et Pavone (Endemica), Euphorbia peploides Gouan,
Evax asterisciflora (Lam.) Pers., Launaea resedifolia (L.) O. Kuntze, Orchis hill Solander, Romulea columnae Seb. et Mauri, Senecio glaucus L. subsp.
hyblaeus Brullo (Endemic), Catapodium pauciflorum (Merino) Brullo, G. Giusso del Galdo, P. Minissale & Spamp.
consistent naturalistic values. It is a medium-evolved garrigue as evidenced by the presence of rupestrian Phagnalon, Biscutella maritima, Calendula
arvensis subsp. bicolor, Senecio glaucus L. subsp. hyblaeus, Orchis hill, Cachrys sicula, Ajuga iva, Sulla capitata, Hyoseris scabra, Thymelaea hirsuta,
Phillyrea angustifolia, Pistacia lentiscus. The presence of these last two species indicates that the formation is something more than a garrigue (degraded by evident
signs of disturbance), and that it could easily evolve to Mediterranean scrub only if the disturbances were attenuated. In any case, the garrigue was established there
possesses those values ​​common to all garigues deriving from being typical and specific formations of the Mediterranean area (non-existent in other areas
biogeographies of the world). The garrigue of Contrada Maulli unlike the other much more common (deriving from the washout of red earth or formations
pedological with a good sandy content and rich in calcium) generally located, due to this washout, on an acid substrate and dominated precisely by Cistus
sp. pl., is an extremely rare garrigue formation as it is established on loamy and alluvial pedological substrates in general. In it as can be seen from
a simple prospecting absolutely missing the Cistus sp. pl. and any other habitat species on acid substrate. It is for this reason that said garrigue has
a considerable naturalistic value. The site also includes the terminal stretch of the Irminio river and its mouth, which is home to a rich and articulated vertebrate fauna.
In fact, it serves as a resting and resting area for many species of migratory birds, it hosts significant populations of the European pond turtle and the Leopardian snake and
it can include a rich ichthyofauna, with species deserving of maximum protection in relation to their relative rarity. The invertebrate fauna is also rich
and articulated in relation to the high environmental heterogeneity that characterizes the site. It is possible to find endemic or rare species among the freshwater fauna,
riparian, psammophilous and floricultural.

Source: Ministry of the Environment Natura 2000 form

Ministerial data: Ministerial Map  Natura 2000 form

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Region of Sicily

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