A Jewel of a Reserve
A few years ago we helped fund the creation of a small but wonderful reserve near Milan and I wrote this in our blog at the time:
A true oasis in a desert of water.
That contradiction in terms describes an area we visited recently near the River Agogna south of Novara and west of Milan. It has been, for many years, an important area for the production of rice and the sight of the fields under water brings views of most of the heron species.
However, it is not without its problems; while inundated the fields are home to countless frogs and tadpoles but at some point they are drained and baked under the sun. The fields are as flat as a billiard table so no pools remain and the amphibians either leave or die and the herons are forced to look elsewhere for food.
There are two stories of hope to be told here. The first is of Cascina Bosco, a farm run by Roberto and Ilena on traditional lines. No chemicals are used and green manures ensure the quality of the soil, with flooded ditches around their fields for the benefit of all sorts of aquatic life. It is heartening to learn that there is a strong demand for organic food despite the fact that their rice costs twice as much as the industrial counterpart and that, therefore, their enterprise has a promising future. Good luck to the three of them at www.cascinaboscofornasara.it
Roberto and Ilena work closely with “Burchvif” a conservation group based in nearby Borgolavezzaro who have bought, with the help of LIPU-UK, sections of oxbows from the River Agogna and have created nature reserves of the highest standard.
These two neighbouring enterprises show that big is not always better and that amid agriculture on an industrial scale nature can be considered, respected and protected. LIPU-UK and our parent body in Italy were happy to help Burchvif buy this area and it was wonderful to visit and see how the reserve has been developed – “Avanti Burchvif!”.
A recent report from Professor Giuseppe Bogliani, of the University of Pavia, who works for Burchvif as a volunteer:
“A recent survey of Canneto Boverio proved the presence of 50 nests, but we estimate a total of over 100. We have confirmed breeding by Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Pygmy Cormorant; with a pair of Sacred Ibis but these are not seen to be nesting. Add to these Little Bittern – and Bittern booming regularly in the spring, and you can see the success of your assistance. Thank you LIPU”.
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