Oasi del Simeto

Oasi del Simeto

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The nature reserve oriented "Oasis of the Simeto" was established by Decree of the Councilor for the Territory and Environment of March 14, 1984. With subsequent decree of the May 30, 1987 the regulation of the reserve was approved. p>

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

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

The wetlands were separated from the sea by a coastal cordon dune 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, since the seventies of the last century, the natural environments of the reserve have been the subject of a vast phenomenon of abusive building that has continued to widespread 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 that risk worsening both with the implementation of further planned interventions and in the absence of corrective actions for those realized.

Despite the attacks suffered , the reserve has a significant naturalistic interest and high potential, above all as a protection area for birds and for the presence of extremely diversified environments. The identification of a large part of the territory of the reserve as a Site of Community Importance (S.I.C.) and Special Protection Area (Z.P.S.), pursuant to directives nos. 92/43 / EEC and 79/409 / EEC, constitutes a further confirmation of this naturalistic interest.

The purposes of protecting wet and sandy coastal environments are clearly explained in the Decree establishing the reserve: "to favor and increase the conditions for stopping and nesting birdlife and the restoration of psalophilia and Mediterranean vegetation". These purposes, as well as the type of nature reserve oriented, must direct the protection towards forms of management that, in addition to ensuring the conservation of environments in natural conditions, provide interventions aimed at recovering from the naturalistic aspect areas more or less deteriorated by anthropic intervention.

The reserve includes the terminal stretch of the river Simeto that between the '50s and' 60s of the last century was rectified and dammed. The aforementioned works have separated from the new course a wide meander that the river formed immediately before the mouth. This meander has survived, however, being fed by groundwater emergencies.

About one kilometer from the mouth of the old bend flow two rivers: the Jungetto channel (an ancient drainage channel that currently receives the discharges of the Catania purifier) ​​and the Buttaceto stream, whose waters reach the old loop essentially during 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, since the supply of sweet waters of limited duration, while those of an artificial nature due to the Jungetto in terms of quality, quantity and duration they are altering the existing hydro-biological balance.

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

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