Italian gardens: Pantano di Policoro Wood, Matera
- WTI Magazine #104 Jun 16, 2018
The Pantano di Policoro Wood is a protected natural area in the province of Matera, established in 1999, designated Site of Community Importance (SCI) and Special Protection Area (SPA). It occupies an area of 500 hectares, 21 of which are WWF Italy Oases, gathered under the denomination of "WWF Oasis Policoro Herakleia".
The territory alternates between a marshy area and reed beds. In 1931, 1600 hectares of wood were recorded; today there are 680 and they continue to suffer from human activity and drought.
The protected area can be divided into three parts: the vegetation of the sandy coast; the Mediterranean scrub; and wet woodland with marsh areas. The sandy coastal area is one of the most critical for plant life, due to extreme climatic conditions (aridity, windiness, salinity). For this reason, the plants have developed long roots to reach the water deeply, narrow leaves, thin and flattened to the ground to resist the winds, and fleshy leaves or reduced to thorns to reduce the leaf evapotranspiration.
Among the plants we find the beard of friar (Salsola spp.), calcatreppola (Eryngium spp.), ravastrello marittimo (Cakile maritima), gramigna della spiaggia (Agropyron junceum). There are still marine fennel (Crithmum maritimum), sea euphorbia (Euphorbia paralias) and sea lily (Pancratium maritimum). The Mediterranean scrub includes the lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus), the juniper cuddly (Juniperus oxicedrus), the fillirea (Phyllirea latifolia), the rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), the myrtle (Myrtus communis) and the rockrose (Cistus monspeliensis).
The tree vegetation is composed of ash (Fraxinus excelsior), black alder (Alnus glutinosa), white poplar (Populus alba), Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), maple (Acer campestre), laurel (Laurus nobilis), wild apple (Malus sylvestris), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), fig (Ficus carica), dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and maternal (Rhamnus alaternus). There is also liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), at a spontaneous state.
The fauna has numerous migratory birds, such as the grey heron, the little egret and the spatula. The otter, an endangered species, was spotted in the canal. Among the mammals there are the marten, the beech marten and the badger.