Ponds in the Bay of Oristano and the Sinis Peninsula island of Mal di Ventre

Date of Submission: 01/06/2006
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of the Environment and Land Protection
State, Province or Region:

Region: Sardegna - Province: Oristano

Ref.: 1152
Cultural landscapes
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The site is located at the centre of the western coast of Sardegna, in the municipality of Oristano, starting north from Capo Mannu, along the Sinis peninsula, including the entire coastal area of the bay of Oristano up to the ponds of Pauli Maiori, and comprising the town of Arborea and the ponds of Corru s'Ittiri, S. Marceddi and S. Giovanni, and the overlooking island of Mal di Ventre.

The province of Oristano for over 300 years was ruled by the city of Arborea, one of the four independent states that was established on the island after the end of the Byzantine period.

The bay of Oristano encompasses the most famous coastal ponds of the Mediterranean area: from north to south, Putzu Idu, Sal'e Porcus, Cabras, Mistras, Santa Giusta, Pauli Maiori, S'Ena Arrubia, Corru S'Ittiri, Marceddì and S. Giovanni.

The overlooking island of Mal di Ventre is located 8 km from the coast and has an extension of approximately 80 hectares; the morphology is flat with the northern part slightly higher reaching the maximum altitude of 18 m on the sea level.

The coast appears a phalesiae in the entire north, south-west and southern area, while in the eastern area the coast forms a gentle slope to sea. The island, of Palaeozoic origin, represents together with capo Pecora the only granite butte in the western coast of Sardegna. The significant influence of dominant western winds, with their violence and frequency, suggested the original name of "Malu' entu". The calcareous and basalt phalesiae of the island (Capo Sa Sturaggia, Torre Sevo e Capo San Marco) represent a particular environmental value with respect to geomorphology, landscape and fauna, creating the ideal habitat  for resident avifauna and migratory avifauna in transit.

This extraordinary complex, facing the island of  Maluventu (or Mal di Ventre) and other minor islets located within the Sinis peninsula, adds to the exceptional natural value also the peculiarity of enclosing, in a territorial context substantially still intact, ancient archaeological sites, such as Tharros, among the most important of Sardegna, and precious evidence of long-lasting human settlements, that provide a lecture of subsequent events of the entire Mediterranean: tokens of Eneolithic culture of Bonuighinu in IV millennium, the Nuragic culture, Punic and Roman age and the Byzantine period.

The importance of the site is enriched by the city of Arborea which - remained substantially intact up to now in its uniqueness - represents a typical example of the historical period.  The city is a "founding city", a settlement, born on nothing between 1920 and 1930 as a service centre of the land  reclaimed ad hoc and aimed at providing the essential needs for the self-sufficiency of "settlers" and deliberately integrated in the surrounding landscape.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The wetlands of s'Ena Arrubia were declared Wetlands of International Importance in accordance with the Ramsar Convention through Decree of the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry on June 17th, 1977.

The ponds of Corru s'Ittiri of S. Giovanni and Marceddì and of Pauli Maiori were declared Wetlands of International Importance in accordance with the Ramsar Convention through Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on April 3rd 1978.

The wetlands of Sale e'Porcus were declared of International Importance in accordance with the Ramsar Convention through Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on March 4th 1982.

The pond of Mistras was declared of International Importance in accordance with the Ramsar Convention through Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on March 4th 1982.

The authority in charge of the Wetlands of International Importance above mentioned is the Forest, Parks, Hunting and Fishing Service of the Local Authority for the Protection of the Environment of the autonomous Region of Sardegna.

The Sardegna region proposed these ponds as Sites of Community Importance (SCI) in accordance with Directive 72/43/EEC (Habitat):

  • § Pond of s'Ena Arrubia and surrounding territory (site code number ITB030016)
  • § Pond of Corru S'Ittiri (site code number ITB030032)
  • § Pond of Pauli Maiori of Oristano (site code number ITB030033)
  • § Pond of Mistras of Oristano (site code number ITB030034)
  • § Pond of Sale e' Porcus (site code number ITB030035)
  • § Pond of Cabras (site code number ITB030036)
  • § Pond of Santa Giusta (site code number ITB030037)
  • § Ponds of Putzu Idu (Salina Manna and Pauli Marigosa) (site code number ITB030038)
  • § Island of Mal di Ventre and Catalano (site code number ITB030039).
The Presidential Decree n. 357 of 1997, implementing the above mentioned Directive, envisages, for projects within Sites of Community Importance or that could have impacts on these areas, an incidence assessment for the quantification of the main consequences that their realisation could cause on these sites.

Comparison with other similar properties

From a natural point of view, it is comparable with coastal sites in Spain (National Park of Donana included in the Unesco List of Sites) and in France (Camargue).

The National Park of Donana, in the south western area of the Iberian Peninsula, is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Guadalquivir river. The park offers three great ecosystems: fixed dunes or "cotos", wandering dunes and the brackish marshes or "marismes". Each ecosystem is tightly linked to geomorphology dynamic of the region such as the evolution history of the zone. The flora of dune and heath and also the avifauna which show interesting cases of  endemism.

The regional park of Camargue is located between the two branches of Rhone delta and the Mediterranean Sea. The river delta, moulded by the associated action of sea and wind (in particular, the mistral), shows depressions, marshes, wide portions of beaches, steppes and infinite pasture lands, but also the original brushwood and the cultivated areas. The rich fauna formed by migrating and resident birds, anatides and mammals present interesting cases of endemism.

As to the archaeological aspects and the history of landscape and settlements, it is important to emphasize the particular configuration of Phoenician harbours in the Mediterranean: Cagliari and Nora, Palermo and Marsala, Marseille, coastal cities of North-Africa starting from Carthage; it regards the wise choice of sites with coastal ponds and rocky promontories which, besides providing safe landing places, offer the possibility of using the body of standing water connected to the sea, fit for dry docks and ports according to the most developed Carthaginian techniques.

The water reclamation works for an efficient use of marshlands experienced their maximum application also during the past century in the area of Arborea. With regards to the historic cities, Arborea was chronologically the first "Founding City" and it can be compared to others founded in Italy (Latina, Sabaudia, Carbonia, etc.) and the Italian colonies in Africa (here limited to the dimension of rural villages). The uniqueness of Arborea consists in the excellent state of preservation which, notwithstanding the continuous use, did not alter the urban asset, the characteristics of buildings and nonetheless the perfect adaptation to the surrounding rural landscape, that results instead ruined in other areas.