Valley of Piano della Corte
Site type: SAC - Special Conservation Area
Code: ITA060007 - Hectares: 450
The site is a well engraved valley in the hilly area of the Erei Mountains, extending for 458.71 hectares and falls entirely within the territory of the Municipality of Agira. The soils are clayey and calcareous clayey, on substrates consisting of clays and chalky limestones of the Messinian evaporitic series. For short stretches and limited to the valley floor there are loamy-clayey alluvial soils. The climate of the area is upper dry Mesomediterranean, according to the criterion of Rivas Martinez adapted to Sicily by Brullo & al. (1996) The site includes various territorially well separated habitats based on the acclivity and consequent preferential routes of runoff of rainwater. The high and low valleys, the bottom-valley, the valley sides, the border areas are distinguished. a) The valley floor of the upper part (at higher altitudes) is characterized by its exceptional silvery ripening of the typical gallery forest in Willows and Black Poplar, with elm, ash, elder, etc. (coding 92A0); b) Still in the same area, but in less direct contact with the waters, in muddy and nitrified environments (probably from contact with adjacent cultivated areas) willow groves with the presence of Populus alba settle, provided with a cortege of Paspalo-Agrostidion species ( including eg. Polypogon viridis) (code 3280); c) Still in the area in the drier parts, deciduous oak forests with Quercus virgiliana and Quercus amplifolia settle, certainly attributable to the Quercetea ilicis class (code 9340), in one of its facies of adaptation to the sub-Mediterranean climate; d) In the part of the valley floor which is located at lower altitudes, the vegetation of the gallery forests in Salici and Pioppi is completely replaced by Tamariceti (code 92D0) with Tamarix africana and T. gallica afferent to Tamaricetum gallicae Br.-Bl & O. Bolòs 1957 of the Tamaricion africanae (Nerio-Tamaricetea class Br.-Bl & O. Bolòs 1957); e) Still in the lower part, where chlorides from the washout of the surrounding clays accumulate, a very impoverished vegetation is established in small areas, but certainly attributable to Juncetalia maritimi, given the presence of Juncus acutus L. and Scirpoides holoschoenus subsp. australis (Murray) Soják (coding 1410); f) On the valley sides and throughout the upper part of the valley, with an arid microclimate, aspects referable to ampelodesmeti (with Ampelodesmos mauritanicus (Poir.) T. Durand & Schinz), as well as where the salinity is more pronounced halo-nitrophilic pulvinus formations with Salsola oppositifolia and Capparis ovata of the Pegano-Salsoletea (code 1430), as well as sparse tufts of Chamaerops humilis (code 5330); g) Finally, outside the properly humid areas, in the spaces left open by shrubs and phanerophytes, extensive ephemeral formations afferent to the Thero-Brachypodietea are observed (code 6220).
Due to its location in an intensely cultivated area and the presence of water, the area represents a season of refuge for flora and wild fauna. Furthermore, a riparian formation in willows and poplars in excellent conservation conditions such as that of Piano della Corte is the only case for central Sicily. Its value is further increased by the fact that, since the valley floor is strongly drained, there is no permanence of runoff water for long periods. The reaching of underground layers, even if not deep, by the root systems of the wood essences ensures that the vegetation remains vital even during the summer periods of marked dryness and therefore makes the site of great importance naturalistic, educational and scientific. The site has a characteristic fauna of the wet riparian environments. All this makes the SIC of great naturalistic, educational and scientific importance.
Source: Ministry of the Environment Natura 2000 form
It falls within the Nebrodi Park
Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero
Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Region of Sicily
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