From small beginnings.
Good news from Puglia in southern Italy as LIPU-UK invests for wildlife in the Gulf of Manfredonia. Situated at the entrance to the salt lagoons in the Manfredonia wetlands IBA (Important Bird Area) is a building suited to become a small visitor centre and, perhaps, a ringing station.
LIPU is very keen to build its influence in the area and this acquisition will go a long way to achieving that. It was found by the LIPU delegate to Foggia, Enzo Cripezzi, when it was first offered for sale to a non-business organisation at a significant discount to market price. LIPU-UK agreed to help with the purchase of the building and to help with its equipment by means of our first use of the Oasi Fund.
LIPU now has more influence in the management of the area and is excited by the chance of improving it still further. LIPU-UK is delighted to have been able to help with the purchase of this property and to be able to spend a small part, just €20,000 of the funds collected over the years for this purpose.
Conservation Director, Claudio Celada writes:
“Margherita di Savoia Saltpan” is an Important Bird Area and the largest active saltpan (Salina) in Europe, producing about 30 million cubic metres of salt a year. The area is 4,000 ha, and it is an important component of one of the main wetland systems in southern Italy. The Salina has been a Nature Reserve since 1977, a Ramsar site since 1979, and is a Special Protection Area meeting the criteria of the Birds Directive.
It is characterised by a series of basins with varying degrees of salinity. In some areas beautiful Salicornia vegetation occurs. The site supports many waterbirds including Avocet (1,000 wintering birds on average, and 400 breeding pairs), Black-winged Stilt (about 100 nesting pairs), Shelduck (4,000 wintering birds, up to 12,000 in the nineties). It is also one of the few sites for which there are Slender-billed Curlew records.
The beautiful Flamingos are also present with thousands of individuals wintering and 300–700 pairs breeding. Among the rarer species Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, and Kentish Plover breed in the area, while small colonies of Lesser Kestrel, Roller and Stone Curlew occur in the surrounding agricultural areas.
Until a few years ago, LIPU was able to use a small building located at the border of the Nature Reserve as a visitor centre and ornithological field station. But in recent years, due to bureaucracy, we had to leave the building, until it went up for sale and LIPU-UK decided to assist in purchasing it. Although the building itself may not appear to be particularly impressive, from a strategic point of view it is extremely important that LIPU has secured an outpost in the area, making it possible to patrol a vast portion of the wetland. Furthermore, the building will be used for educational activities, with involvement of local schools and scientific activities.
Poaching and border-line hunting in areas adjacent to the nature reserve are among the most damaging activities. Poor water-level management is also a concern. A stronger LIPU presence in the area means to be in a better position to improve the situation of this extremely important IBA. And this is why the LIPU-UK purchase of this structure is so important.
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