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Archipelago of La Maddalena and Islands of Bocche di Bonifacio

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

Region: Sardinia,  Province: Sassari

Ref.: 2028

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


In this proposing card, meant for the registration of a single trans-boundary site, are included ( for a better understanding in French) the paragraphs fulfilled by colleagues in charge of the management of the Bocche di Bonifacio’s natural reserve.

The national park of the archipelago of La Maddalena is located on the strait of Bonifacio, between the islands of Sardinia and Corsica.

La réserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio est située en France, extrême-sud de la Région Corse, département de Corse du Sud.

Contigus, seulement séparés par la limite des eaux territoriales ces 2 espaces constituent la majeure partie du détroit de Bonifacio



Razzoli 41°32’ 9°33’

Spargi 41°23’ 9°34’

Maddalena 41°24’ 9°41’

Caprera 41°20’ 9°26’

Piana 41°17’ 9°37’

Mortorio 41°15’ 9°55’

Nibani 41°13’ 9°57’

The Archipelago of “La Maddalena” encloses seven main islands - Maddalena, Caprera and Santo Stefano in the South East, while Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria are in the North western area - and 55 little islets. The entire area is included in the national park of the archipelago of La Maddalena (established in 1994) which manages the above mentioned park and its surface of 5100 hectares. Each islet is surrounded by a protected marine area, whose width runs from 300 to 500 meters, while the overall marine surface of the park is 15.046 hectares. This group of islands and islets form 180 km of coastal area.

The area was included within the Cetacean Sanctuary, due to frequent sightings of cetaceans in autumn and spring time.

The flora on the island accounts for 750 different species, typical of the coastal schlerophyllici thermo-xerophylae shapes. Here the phytocoenoses of alorupycolae areas, psammophyilae and primary garrigues prevail, all characterized by a strong presence of endemic components.

The benthic marine community is relatively untouched; among the natural hazards we can list wide marine meadows (Posidonia oceanica) and lime carpets of red algae. The Mediterranean limpet, indicator of highly oxygenated and clean water is quite common over the archipelago’s coasts.

Marine and land vertebrates are typical of middle-west Mediterranean. An important reptile population, geographically isolated and made of endemic Sardinian and Corsican species which are classified as endangered on a global scale, can be noted: gecko emidattilo and the Hermann tortoise.

Many species of cetaceans live in these waters, being the archipelago also an important site for dolphin reproduction. In the sixties a Mediterranean monk seal was likely to be seen; today there are no more sightings, despite the situation is improving in the region.

The islands and islets of the Maddalena archipelago are on the way of an important trans-Sahara transmigration route, a resting and breeding place for marine birds.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The archipelago, except for the island of La Maddalena where the homonymous city takes its name from, the agglomerate of Stagnali in Caprera (of historical value) and about 20 houses of a small area in Santa Maria - dwelled in summer time - is totally uninhabited, basically  maintaining the 19 century asset, as reported by the  Albini sailing direction book at the beginning of the 19th century. The original vegetation is often of climatic type, with huge agglomerations of feniceo juniper and thermo Mediterranean garrigues, everywhere present on the islands. The limited growth in height for these plants constitutes a featuring element in the relation of climate-soil system. The park is nowadays committed in eliminating the exotic species, through interventions for re-balancing the equilibrium inside the contaminated sites.

The coastal asset is among the soundest in Sardegna, thus of Italy. The islands destination to military defence was firstly contributing to maintain the condition of environmental integrity, through limits set by the Navy in war time to protect  stations built to defend the nation. Subsequently the action by later civic administrations prevented the islands from edification and residential building.

Same attention - as to territory safeguard- may be found on the French side. The action of the National Park is aimed, through planning and regulations which implement safeguard dispositions, at containing tourism pressure on the most qualified sites and habitats.

Particularly interesting is the park environmental monitoring system which allows a steady control on the area.

Les objectifs de préservation et de valorisation de cet ensemble destiné à devenir le Parc marin international entre Corse et Sardaigne ont été définis conjointement par les différents partenaires institutionnels, dans le cadre du comité de pilotage franco-italien. Les deux espaces protégés (le parc national de l'Archipel de la Maddalena et la réserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio) ont donc été établis sur des bases et pour des enjeux comparables. Des échanges fructueux et constructifs ont été initiés entre les deux structures, à l'occasion du programme européen INTERREG, ils se poursuivent actuellement dans le cadre de la gestion courante des deux espaces protégés, portant notamment sur les aspects suivants : étude des milieux et des espèces, évaluation patrimoniale, communication envers le grand public.

Sardinia region advanced, among others, the Site of Community interest (SIC) named "Arcipelago della Maddalena" (site code ITB010008), so implementing directive72/43/CEE.

Comparison with other similar properties

Throughout the world, minor islets with good weather conditions underwent a remarkable transformation -  due to tourism- with the worsening of natural eco-systems that are changing to semi- natural or highly anthropic affected ecosystems.

As against this general trend, the Archipelago of La Maddalena, with the only exception of the main island and its houses, maintained a substantial natural condition as to the land (Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli, Spargiotto, Barrettini, Mortorio and Nibani) and in particular the sea, representing a valuable example of coastal system  safeguard over 180 km.

In the Mediterranean there are no other islands of crystalline dominant such "la Maddalena", characterized by proximity of islands that are separated by marine channels with low bottoms. The shapes of emerged land are characterized by granite relieves of Inselberg type, or granite massif of Thor type and wide surfaces both along the shore and in the inner parts.

It significantly differs from the Tuscan archipelago, that consists of islands very far apart and geologically different islands, just like the islands of Egeo which are mostly of volcanic origin within a geo-thermal active area. Other archipelagos such as islands of Balearic, Breton, Egadi, Hyères, Eolie, Tremiti differ either due to their geological nature or landscape as a whole.

At similar latitudes in other continents, geological conditions and related landscape assets are really different (for example, the Archipelago of Ciloé in Chile).

The most alike area, furthermore in geographically continuity, is represented by the Archipelago of Lavezzi.

The geo-morphological aspect of the Archipelago maintains continuity  with the northern part of Sardegna (Gallura region) where alongside the same granite massifs, the man deeply modified natural landscape with huge granite extraction  pits and large tourist settlements - housing, road network at different level, harbour structures. 

As to seabed, the location of the archipelago inside the "Bocche of Bonifacio" causes a high hydro-dynamism that, associated with scarce depth of the channel and limited tide range, determines the uttermost water cleanness with colour range from turquoise blue to emerald, azure-blue and deep blue.

Forms of granite erosion from last glaciation age 18 Ka B.P may be observed on seabed. Such an incredible concomitance of rare factors makes this seascape unlikely to meet equals in the rest of the world. The presence of an element joining two islands remains unique in the whole Mediterranean and elsewhere difficult to be found: here are gathered  naturalness conditions, speciation, richness of endemic species.

Basically, the comparison with a similar geographic context (Tuscan Arcipelago, Cerbicales Islands, Tremiti, Hyéres, Greek islands of Arco) shows areas that are more affected by environmental modifications and transformations through logging, agri -pastoral and tourism.

Huge agglomerations of Posidonia oceanica (priority habitat according to directive 93/43 CE), are quite well conserved in most of the Area, with particular regard to the surroundings of Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria in the north-west, of Soffi and Mortorio in the south-east which do contribute in increasing the site value's uniqueness.

The red algae Lithophyllum lichenoides forms lime agglomerates over 1 metre thick, present exclusively in the area.

As to both land and sea vertebrate fauna, although we cannot define this site as unique value, the global relevance for some sea birds breeding in the archipelago can nevertheless be highlighted, such as the Corsica  seagull (Larus audouinii), the only seagull genus that is endemic of the Mediterranean, and the Mediterranean sub-type  shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii), whose populations within the area are respectively 1% and 3% of the world population.

La superficie de l'aire marine protégée (80 000 ha pour la réserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio  alors que Scandola n'en posséde que 1000 ha), les différences géologiques (falaises calcaires et îlots granitiques à Bonifacio, falaises granitiques et volcaniques à Scandola) ainsi que le caractère transfrontalier du détroit de Bonifacio le distingue nettement du golfe de Piana- Porto-Girolata seul site de Corse inscrit au patrimoine mondial. La réserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio est la plus importante réserve de France métropolitaine par sa superficie.

Le futur parc marin international des Bouches de Bonifacio constitué des deux entités (réserve naturelle de Bonifacio et Parco Nazionale dell'Archipelago della Maddalena) aura l'originalité d'être le premier espace marin transfrontalier protégé de Méditerranée.