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Nature reserve “Po di Volano” and coast



The environment


The area includes many different areas, from the pine tree forest to the salty lagoon, from wild areas to mouth bars and the beaches of Lido di Volano.

After the “Scannone” area, the Volano beach penetrates into Sacca di Goro, with a large surface that is characterized by a low water level and that is covered by alkali grass and cordgrass. The Volano pine forest (169 ha) is part of the National Nature Reserve called “Po di Volano”, and is located South-East from the mouth of the Po river in the Volano area. It stretches towards South for 6 km, between the built-up area of Volano, the lake “Lago delle Nazioni” and the sea, reaching the place called “Bocca del Bianco”.

The whole area is on dune lines of recent formation, these strands, that are continuously moving because of the wind, were subject to reforestation between 1933 and 1935 by the Corps of forest rangers, with maritime pine and domestic pine (Pinus pinaster e P. pinea), in order to build a windbreak. The area was ceded to the State-owned company for state forests in two phases: in 1931, with a deed for the transfer of strands to be reforested, from the Administration of the Merchant Marine, for about 146 ha, and in 1953, with the purchase of 23 ha of pine forest from a private citizen.

Later reforestation interventions were carried out over the years, planting maritime pines along the peripheral zones and stone pines in the most internal and sheltered areas. In 1966, after a violent sea storm, the most depressed areas of the pine forest were flooded by salt water, which caused serious damages to the wood stand and the death of many trees, especially stone pines (that are less resistant), leading to a higher density of maritime pines. Later (date unknown) autochthonous species of holm oak and English oak were introduced (Mantovani and Pelleri 1991).

The part that is North from the pine forest is the old mouth of Po di Volano, consisting of two strips of sand northwards and southwards, called Scannone di Volano, which accompany the old mouth to Sacca di Goro. The whole area of the old mouth and of the mouth bars lies within the Po di Volano Nature Reserve, the littoral zone of the Volano shore in front of the pine forest is the area C of the park.


The flora
The main species of the Volano pine forest are the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and, to a lesser extent, the stone pine (Pinus pinea). The pine forest is no longer used for commercial purposes for the production of wood, natural forestry activities are carried out, aimed at highlighting the value of the environment. The forests were naturally renewed with pines, but the pines often have such little vegetation cover that small holm oaks grew naturally there, so that large parts of these pine forests are gradually turning into scrub with holm oaks, of a type similar to that of the Mesola wood, of higher naturalistic value.

The littoral zone of Volano is mainly characterized by sand without vegetation, both for natural and anthropic causes. There are still some areas of embryonic dunes of the backshore, with herbaceous vegetation that is typical of sand. Usually they are communities of perennial species, looking like a prairie (synt. Ammophiletalia arundinaceae) with Eryngium maritimum and Calystegia soldanella (medium-level naturalistic value). In some small areas there are groups of species of higher naturalistic value, with communities of high naturalistic value, mainly characterized by Agropyron junceum, Echinophora spinosa, Eryngium maritimum and Calystegia soldanella (synt. Echinophora spinosae-Elymetum farcti) and by Ammophila littoralis, associated to Echinophora spinosa (synt. Echinophora spinosae-Ammophiletum arundinaceae).
In the strip of sand of the Volano littoral zone, in the direction of the old mouth of the Po river in the Volano area, there is a halophilous and halotolerant vegetation of high naturalistic value, mainly characterized by prairies with Puccinellia palustris, with few associated species, among which Aster tripolium (synt. Limonio narbonensis-Puccinellietum festuciformis). In the extremity near Sacca there is a small prairie of high naturalistic value, mainly characterized by Spartina maritima (synt. Limonio narbonensis-Spartinetum maritimae), an endemic phytocoenesis of the high Adriatic area, of limited extension and threatened by the regression of its environment, whose original features consist in the presence of Spartina maritima, which in the whole Mediterranean area can only be found here.



Scannone di Volano, located between the old and the current mouth of the Po river of the Volano area, has two pine forests with the same type of vegetation as the previously described pine forest; here too the underwood is rapidly evolving into scrub with holm oaks. In the Northern extremity of Scannone there are some salty meadows with reeds and grasses (synt. Juncetalia maritimi), the most common species are Juncus maritimus, Arthrocnemum fruticosum, Limonium serotinum, Halimione portulacoides, Elytrigia aterica. Between Scannone and the new mouth there are beds of high reeds, mainly characterized by the salty facies of Phragmites australis.

In the open water of the old mouth the vegetation is sparse or absent, in the most sheltered areas there is a submerged vegetation that is typical of salt water, with Ruppia cirrhosa and Ulvales.


The fauna


The fauna of the Volano pine forest is very rich, but at the same time with general characteristics and the presence of ubiquitous species typical for the coastal woods of the high Adriatic area. The common species are the green toad (Bufo viridis) and the common toad (Bufo bufo), the pool frog (Rana esculenta complex) and the common frog (Rana dalmatina), the Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) and, in the water, the pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), but there are also many green lizards (Lacerta viridis), Italian wall lizards (Podarcis sicula) and common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis), green whip snakes (Coluber virdiflavus) and Aesculapian snakes (Elaphe longissima). The asp viper (Vipera aspis) is rare (Mazzotti 1992, Mazzotti and Stagni 1993).  Other common species are ubiquitous birds such as the pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), the blackbird (Turdus merula), the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), the starling (Sturnus vulgaris), the goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), the greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), the great tit (Parus major) and the blue tit (Parus caeruleus), which can often be seen in the transition areas between woods and agricultural land. Other common species are woodpigeons (Columba palumbus) and stock doves (Columba oenas), during fall, which are partly wintering birds. It is quite common to see them move back and forth between the stubble, where they eat, and the woods, where they rest. Only in summer there are the following species: the cuckoo (Cuculus canorus),the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), the hoopoe (Upupa epops) and the golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus). The great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) is quite common. Corvids are common throughout the year, in particular the following species can be easily seen: the hooded crow (Corvus coronae cornix), the magpie (Pica pica) and, more typically inside the woods, the jay (Garrulus glandarius). The night birds are the tawny owl (Strix aluco), the barn owl (Tyto alba), the long-eared owl (Asio otus) and the little owl (Athene noctua). The insectivore mammals are the common shrew (Sorex araneus), the Mediterranean water shrew (Neomys anomalus), the mole (Talpa europaea) and the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Examples of the rodents that are present here are the water vole (Arvicola terrestris), the field mouse (Apodemus sp.), the house mouse (Mus musculus), the harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) and rats (Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus). As for mustelids, there are weasels (Mustela nivalis) and beech martens (Martes foina), (IDROSER 1985).

In the reed beds, in the channels and in the water the following species can be easily found: the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), the penduline tit (Remiz pendolinus), the zitting cisticola (Cisticola juncidis), the Cetti’s warbler (Cettia cetti) and, in summer, the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and the reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). As for ducks, in the area there are the following species: the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), which is very common, the coot (Fulica atra), the moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and the teal (Anas crecca). Often there are also great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus), black-necked grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), little grebes (Tachibaptus ruficollis), cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis) and little egrets (Egretta garzetta) (Mantovani and Pelleri 1991). In Scannone di Volano there are often couples of nesting Kentish plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) (Costa 1998, Mantovani and Pelleri 1991).




Path for pedestrians and bikes inside the pine forest, with different deviations that take to the littoral zone and the humid meadows of the lake “Lago delle Nazioni”. North from the road that connects the Volano built-up area to the littoral zone, the path continues into the pine forest, to the landing stage called “Madonnina”, from here there is one more circular path for pedestrians, with a turret, along Scannone di Volano, which leads to the point directed to Sacca di Goro, and from which visitors can enjoy a beautiful view over the mouth of Po di Volano, Peschiere and the heronry of purple herons.


Pine forests and coastal dune areas


CTR 1:25.000 - 187SE; 205 NE


Nature reserve 386 ha, Volano pine forest 169 ha


Comacchio, Codigoro

Owned by

State-owned / former ASFD



State-owned / former ASFD 





The northern part (mouth of the Po river in the Volano area), is subject to restrictions as area of outstanding natural beauty, according to Law 1497/1939. Environmental restriction according to Law 431/1985 (currently subject to the regulations referred to in the decree-law 490/1999 that is currently in force). Hydrogeological restriction according to the Royal Decree 3267 of 30/01/1923.

“Po di Volano” national nature reserve, established according to the Ministerial Decree of July 13, 1977 (“Gazzetta Ufficiale” no. 219 of August 11, 1977).
The whole area is partly included in the “Cannevié-Foce Volano” wildlife sanctuary and partly in the wildlife sanctuary called “Lidi Ferraresi Nord” (Northern shore of Ferrara).
The whole identified area is included in the Ramsar area which bears the name “Bertuzzi valley and adjacent reflecting pools” (Valle Bertuzzi e specchi d’acqua limitrofi), established with the Ministerial Decree of July 13, 1981 (“Gazzetta Ufficiale” no. 203 of 25/7/81).

The site lies within the boundaries of the Delta Park, according to the Regional Law 27/1988 and the Plan of the Volano - Mesola-  Goro station of 1991 and 1997.

The Territorial Plan of 1997 does not classify the area that was identified as national nature reserve, differently from the plan of 1991 which wrongly classified it as area B. As for the coastal areas that are external to the Reserve, the Plan of 1997 classifies them as Area C  (C.SPG.A2; C.SPG.A3), whereas the previous Plan includes some coastal areas in the Area B.

The mouth of the Po river in the Volano area is included in the special protection area (IT4060016) called “Sacca di Goro, Dindona Valley, mouth of the Po river in the Volano area” ( “Sacca di Goro, Valle Dindona, Foce del Po di Volano”), according to the directive 79/409 EEC (4127 ha), it is also included in the site of community importance (IT4060005) called “Sacca di Goro, Po di Goro, Dindona Valley, mouth of the Po river in the Volano area” (“Sacca di Goro, Po di Goro, Valle Dindona, Foce del Po di Volano”), identified according to the directive 92/43/EEC (4387 ha).
The southern areas of the reserve and the coast are part of the site of community importance (IT 4060007) called “Volano Wood”.



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