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The Springs of Valle Re

The initiative of safeguarding the environmental integrity of this precious ecosystem on the plains of the Emilia Romagna region began in 1986 through the enterprise of Pro Natura Val d’Enza. In 1990 the Pro Natura Reggio-Emilia obtained a state land grant concerning some of the most import karst springs in the area of Valle Re called “Fontanili di Rio Inveriaca” and “Del Monte” which were considered to be key objectives of naturalist safeguarding.

Subsequently, the region of Emilia-Romagna established the natural reserve of the “Fontanili di Corte Valle Re” in the territory south of the “Autostrada del Sole” (the main motorway thus cutting in half an area which was particularly rich in plain-growing vegetation and on which there were four springs "fontane".

The Federation acquired this last important “slice” of territory thus giving a fullness and completeness to the initiative of the protection of the entire “environmental system” of Fontanili di Valle Re. In 1997, this newly protected area was inaugurated officially and called the oasis of “Ca’ Pegolotta” taking its name from the farmland estate area. It must be noted that the springs of Valle Re are the last of their kind to have survived in the territory of Reggio-Emilia.
There are about 20 active spring mouths which are situated a few metres below the surface of the land and are connected to the freatic water-bearing stratum in all the territory and four of these springs are located in the Pro Natura oasis. Even though the Oasis of Valle Re-Ca’ Pegolotta is not a very extensive area, only about 5 hectares, it, nevertheless, offers an extraordinary variety of environments. Within the oasis four springs of various entities had been partially blocked by debris and made inactive but the reactivation of the springs, ultimately resulted in the planting of a poplar grove. The clear waters at a constant temperature notably influence the vegetation which makes up the most significant part of this very particular eco-system.

The wooded area which stands out from the bare surrounding countryside which makes up the oasis, represents a safe point of reference for birdlife in particular, both for grassland and shelter. More than 100 different species of birds go to the area; Ardeidae, Anatidae and Limicolae. Frequent the humid, mud-dwelling areas, whereas, Passiformes are present in the riparian vegetation. Here the lap-wing (Vanellus vanellus) spends the winter and builds its nest while other birds of prey are also present such as the falcon of the marshland and the sparrow-hawk (Accipter nisus); inside the canals the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and the moor hen (Gallinula chloropus) can be found.

The various and rich fauna includes rare species. Amongst the fish, the “Panzarolo”, which is endemic to the springs, makes this area one of the last stations in all of Europe. The freshwater crayfish (Astacus fluviatilis) and the European pond tortoise (Emys orbicularis) are both threatened by extinction due to the loss of their natural habitat on the plain caused by intensive agriculture.

Both the Reggio-Emilia Pro Natura and the Pro Natura Val d’ Enza have been in operation for many years in an attempt to accomplish and intensify specific naturalistic studies. In order to enjoy the remarkable environmental patrimony which makes the oasis an authentic biogenetic reserve, a small centre with documentation has been set up under a structure with wooden roof containing didactic panels. A nature trail, in the shape of a ring, encircles the area of the springs; naturalistic guides are available to accompany visitors on their outing to the oasis.

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