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Pialassa della Baiona

 


 

A bit of history

The site is located about 10 km north of Ravenna.  The district constituted by Pialassa della Baiona e del Piombone consists of about 1800 hectares of wetlands, connected to the sea by Candiano Canal and its outlet.  The etymology of the name “Pialassa” probably derives from the dynamic system characterizing the lagoons, which is influenced by the level of the tides.  The reservoir receives (the verb “piglia”) marine water twice a day, at high tide, and surrenders it back (the verb “lascia”) twice a day, at low tide.  The only example of an intertidal lagoon along the Emilia-Romagna coast, Pialassa Baiona represents the best-conserved portion of the brackish district and is the most important of the lagoons from a naturalistic point of view.  The northern part (beyond the Lamone River) was drained in 1972 but is nonetheless included in the site, both because a partial “renaturalization” is underway there and because it is in large part uncultivated and maintained as a wild grassland, with aquifer outcrops and stagnant waters that determine the presence of temporary wetland environments.  The lagoon owes its existence to the formation of new coastal sandbars that have progressively isolated a branch of the sea (Roncuzzi, 1994).  The deterioration in climatic conditions that occurred from 1590 to 1850 (Ciabatti, 1990) determined an increase in rainfall and mountain soils erosion, and therefore of the sediment load bourn by the rivers.  The gulf between the Porto del Primario and the river mouth (Fiumi Uniti, or “United Rivers”) into which it opened, together with the Bocca di Cortellazzo, Taglio della Baiona and Porto del Pirottolo, began to fill up with sand shoals and to progressively close.  That process lasted through the 17th and 18th centuries.  Thus an ever-longer bay from east to west formed between the Lamone River and United Rivers estuary, while the opening to the sea—originally about 10 km in length—shrank.  These last developments result from the channelization of the Lamone River.  A large part of the Pialassa was removed, drained by hydraulic pump and put into cultivation.  The construction of the angular canal system dates to the last century, as does the straightening of the Naviglio Corsini (Candiano) Canal.  The scope of the project was to connect the Pialessa wetlands to the Canale di Porto in order to facilitate tidal flows and block the formation of sandbars at the mouth of the Port of Ravenna.  In this case as well, a portion of the Pialassa was removed from the sides of the Candiano Canal and dedicated to industrial use.  Subsidence processes, aggravated by the draining of the subsoil and the erosion of emerged structures, were responsible for the rest.

 

Environment 

The lagoon is characterized by ample open stretches of water, brackish grasslands and halophile vegetable communities, alternated with artificial canals and limpid pools of salty or briny water, with abundant sediment deposits and vast intertidal expanses of silt.  The pools are shallow, with slimy or sandy bottoms which partially emerge at low tide.  Humps—both natural and those created for the nesting of Charadriiformes—emerge from the largest pools, covered by halophile vegetation.  Marginal areas are occupied by hygrophilous grasslands on brackish soils.  A particularly notable feature of the site is a habitat of extreme naturalistic importance, the brackish wetland meadow known as barenicolo.  The distribution of vegetable communities in the pools of the Pialassa and on its banks is principally determined by water level variability and by the period of submersion.  On the banks we find ecosystems dominated by Chenopods, with Limonium, Inula, Aster, and at higher levels, Gramineae and bushes such as Tamarisks, Prunus spinosa, Rubus ulmifolius and Clematis vitalba.  Populations of green macroalgae—prevalently sea lettuce—are widespread in the open waters.  Important nesting colonies include the Snowy Plover, Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt, in addition to Little Egrets and Gulls.  The area assumes great importance as the main feeding site for several species nesting in adjacent sites (Pygmy Cormorants, Glossy Ibises and Whiskered Terns) and for the layovers of species passing through (anatids, Charadriiformes). 

  

To visit

The Pialassa Baiona is accessible from almost all sides.  All the trails of the San Vitale Pine Grove allow visitors to reach the lagoon; the lagoon humps are traversable both on foot and by bicycle.  Entrance is permitted year-round.  From Via Baiona, one can access the Capanno di Garibaldi: Here it is possible to observe the extraordinary pine-covered landscape that defines the horizon of the lagoon.  Also notable is a specially-equipped area near the barenicolo meadow and the small observation tower on the lagoon’s eastern edge.  

 

Obligations

The Pialassa is included within the limiting boundaries of the Delta del Po Park as defined by L.R. 27/1988.  The Station Territorial Plan adopted with del. C.C. 279/23841 of 14/05/1991 classifies the site as a “Pre-Park” Zone.  The Pialossa Baiona is also a Ramsar Zone, instituted by DM 13/07/1981, perimeter modified successively by DM 29/11/1983, published in the G.U. 73 of 14/03/1984.  The entire area is restricted pursuant to Law 431 of 08/08/1985 and by L. 1497/1939 and is therefore subject to regulations as set out by D.L. 490/1999.  The “Pialassa Baiona” is a Special Protection Zone (IT40700014), pursuant to DIR 79/409 CEE, and a Site of Community Importance (IT4070004), identified as set out by DIR 92/43/CEE. 

 

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