National and Regional Parks in Sardinia
The protected natural areas on the island take up 0.51% of the territory of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. The region contains three national parks and eight regional ones. These areas came into existence as protected natural reserves by virtue of a law (legge quadro n.31) of June 7, 1989. Besides the parks, themselves, there are number of other individual monuments and smaller "nature areas," covered by the edict, including the oases of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), which have a long history on the island. (The national and regional parks are indicated by number on the accompanying map.)
1. Asinara (see this link)
2. The archipelago of La Maddalena
3. Gennargentu is the large massif in the center of the island. It encompasses the provinces of Nuoro and Ogliastra and has the highest peaks on the island:
-Punta La Marmora (1,834 m/c.6,000 feet);
-Bruncu Spina (1,829 m/c.6,000 f.),
-Punta Paulinu (1,792 m/c.5900 f.),
-Punta Erba Irdes (1,676 m/c. 5500 f.),
-Monte Spada (1,595 m/c.5200 f.).
map credit: adapted from G. Dessi in Wikipedia
Punta La Marmora
The Gennargentu massif has become iconic for the rugged and unspoiled natural beauty of the island. The park extends to the east to include the Gulf of Orosei. The area contains a great variety of wildlife.
4. The Limbara regional park is one of those that has had some difficulty getting started. It centers on the massif of the same name, the highest point of which is Punta Balistreri (1362 m./c.4500 f.). Originally, there were forests of cork and oak, but a series of devastating fires in the mid-20th century brought about reforestation with rapid-growing pine.
5. Marghine-Goceano. Besides being an area of natural beauty in the interior of the island in the north, the area of the Margine-Goceano regional park is described in promotional literature as having a great number of "archaeological emergencies"; that is, there are hundreds of deteriorated sites with everything from neolithic funeral monuments to ancient nuraghi to remnants of medieval castles, Christian churches, and even the late 19th-century villa of English businessman, Benjamin Percy, involved with railroad construction in northern Sardinia at the time. Restoration of at least some of these things would attract visitors. That is the theory.
6. Sinis-Montiferru. The park is primarily concerned with the protection of the local marine flora, fauna and unique geology (photo, right) around the area of the Sinis peninsula and the Bay of Orisanto on the west coast, including the off-shore island of Mal di Ventre. The area also contains the Cabras marshes, a 5400 acre "hydraulic machine" that regulates the flow of sea-water and fresh water, extremely important for local fish hatcheries. The area holds, as well, the archaeological site of Tharros as well as numerous nuraghic ruins.
7. Monte Arci is a low volcanic mountain (731 m./2400 feet). It is an area of extreme archaeological and anthropological interest since the area is rich in obsidian and shows traces of cutting tools and weapon points from as early as 6000 BC. The largest swamps on Sardinia were found in the low-lying area to the southwest of the mountain, causing, at one time, a high rate of malaria among the population. That area has today largely been filled and reclaimed. The area was also the site of extensive mining, some structures of which still remain standing; there is, thus, an element of urban historical interest to the Mt. Arci area in addition to interest connected with the natural flora, fauna and geology.
8. La Giara. Just to the east of Monte Arci are the Giare (plural of Giara), an area of high basalt plateaus of extreme natural interest. The largest of these giare is the giara di Gesturi, covering an area of some 45 km²/17 miles² miles) taking in the towns of Gesturi, Tuili, Setzu e Genoni. The area is known for the presence of Equus caballus Giarae, the Giara Horse, a unique equestrian species. There are at present about 600 exemplars in the area (photo, right).
9. Monte Linas-Oridda-Marganai. This is a an area of rugged hills and oak forest covering some 22,000 hectares (55,000 acres) in the southwestern part of the island in the province of Cagliari. The name derives from (1) Monte Linas (1236 meters/4,000 ft. high); (2) the Oridda high plain (c. 600 meters/2000 ft.) and (3) the Oridda schist zone, the highest point of which Punta Campu Spina (939 meters/c.1000 ft.). It is an area of great geological interest since it contains, according to literature on the area, the oldest rocks in Italy. The area contains a great variety of wildlife and a number of cascades and waterfalls. In terms of human activity, the area has also been mined intensely over the centuries, and the artifacts are of interest to historians. (See this entry on mining in Sardinia.)
10. Sette Fratelli-Monte Genas. This park is in the southeast and is one of the largest natural preserves in Sardinia (59,000 hectares/145,000 acres). The area is sparsely populated; the only town of any note is Burcei, and it is completely surrounded by the park. All of the peaks are lower than 1000 meters except one, Serpeddi (1069 m./3500 ft.). The area is well-supplied with natural water sources such as the Rio Su Pau and the mountains are largely covered with oak and cork trees. The park is the natural habitat of the Sardinian Deer or (aka Corsican Deer) (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) an endemic subspecies of the European Red Deer (Cervus elaphus); there are about 350 exemplars within the park (photo, right).
11. Sulcis is to the west of Cagliari in what was once the most heavily mined area on the island. (See this entry on mining in Sardinia.) The area is, in fact, the centerpiece of the Geo-mining Historical and Environmental Park of Sardinia described in UNESCO descriptive literature on cultural heritage sites in the world.