Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located in southeastern...read more
Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located in southeastern Italy (southern Adriatic Sea), it covers about 2220 ha and it was established by the Mininster of Environment with a Decree on December 4, 1991. The MPA, falling within the municipalities of Brindisi and Carovigno, has a coastaline of about 8 km from the Apani area till the littoral of Punta Penna Grossa and it extends from the shoreline to 50 m depth. The management authority of the reserve is a consortium composed by the Municipal districts of Carovigno and Brindisi and the no-profit association World Wildlife Fund (Wwf-Italy) Torre Guaceto, besides a MPA, is also a State Natural Reserve extending for about 1.200 ha, having a marine front of 8 km. It was established by the Ministry of Environment, with a Decree on February 4, 2000. Besides the reserve includes the wetland of international interest "Torre Guaceto" according to the Ramsar Convention. Within the framework of the EU programme "Natura 2000" and of the linked Italian programme "Bioitaly", the Region Apulia, according to the EU Habitat Directive 92/43 proposed Torre Guaceto as a site of Communitary Interest named "Torre Guaceto Macchia San Giovanni". Furthermore, the Region Apulia individuated the wetland of Torre Guaceto as a Zone of Special Protection (ZPS) according to the EU directive 79/409 "Birds". The Site of Communitary Interest includes a marine priority habitat for the EU, the Posidonia oceanica meadows. The Management Consortium of Torre Guaceto has approved the management plan of the Site of Communitary Interest (Dir. 92/43 EC) "Torre Guaceto Macchia San Giovanni". The document has been sent to the Ministry of Environment for its approval. Torre Guaceto MPA is divided in three zones, according to the different protection: A Zone, no-entry, no-take zone; B Zone, the General Reserve; C Zone of Partial Reserve. The coastline is characterized, along the western sector, by a series of small subrectangular coves with pocket beaches, until the eastwads projecting promontory of Torre Guaceto. At east of this promontory the coast is mainly sandy, with reduced rocky formations and low rocks emerging right in front of the promontory and eastwards from it (little isles of Apani), and is characterized by a regular, sinuous coastline. The eastern coastal sector, furthermore, is incised by ten little valleys oriented from South to North, some continuing also underwater. The inland part is devoted to the typical agricultural practices of the area, continuing the plant cover present also outside the Reserve, with secular olive trees, mixed cultures, and red soils, not covered by vegetation. In the area between the road and the coast, terrains are in a more natural condition. The spatial succession ranging from beach, dune, and Mediterranean scrub ends up with agricultural areas (mainly vegetable gardens) and some reforestation. The second coastal stretch, developing southwards, does not include neither dunes nor beach. It is characterized by a low and rocky coast, with small beaches and whose vegetation reaches the coastline. The dunes of Torre Guaceto maintain their maximal expansion, since there are wide stretches of grey dunes that reach 15 m in height. The dune environment is diverse and is characterized by habitats of interest for the EU such as: dunes with meadows of Brachypodietalia and annual vegetation; mobile littoral dunes with Ammophila arenaria ("White Dunes"); annual vegetation of marine deposition lines, and the coastal rocks with Mediterranean coastal vegetation, with endemic Limonium spp.. The waters facing on the coast are inhabited by bird species with strong affinity for marine environments (e.g. divers, grebes, petrels, cormorants) and for swamps, like those of the order Anseriformes, that often rest and forage in the waters of the marine reserve). Many anatids rest in marine waters both during migration and in other periods of the year, when they are not active. The submarine landscape is constantly characterized by two subsequent escarpments, parallel to the coastline and with a medium slope. These escarpments are divided by flat surfaces due both to erosion and, mostly, to deposition. The rocky midlittoral is characterised by the presence of red algae as Laurencia sp, and Corallina elongata and by a Cystoserietum that forms belts along the rocky littoral. The rocky infralittoral is characterized by photophylous algae and by sea urchin barrens and encrusting alge accompanied by the few animal species that resist the grazing activity of sea urchins. Posidonia oceanica meadows are one of the most characteristic habitats of the sandy infralittoral. The intricate morphology of the meadows forms a series of microhabitats that provide both food and shelter to numerous organisms, from fish and crustaceans to sponges, bryozoans, hydroids, anthozoans and bivalve molluscs. Patches of Cymodocea nodosa are also present. In the C zone there are stretches of precoralligenous formations with many organisms in perfect state; particularly numerous are both the yellow and the white sea fans (Eunicella cavolini, Eunicella singularis). Also the bryozoans Sertella sp. e Myriapora truncata are very common. Coralligenous formations are comprised between 22 and 30 m depth, with discontinuous distribution and forming a series of patches on the sandy bottom. Coralligenous formations become scarcer at depths greater than 30 m, reaching a depth of 45 m, where the sandy bottom is replaced by mud. Muddy bottoms are inhabited by a rich fauna of molluscs, brittle stars, sea stars, sea cucumbers, vagile and tubiculous polychaetes, with various types of tubular protections. Torre Guaceto AMP has obtained the Emas II Registration (Reg CE 761/2001) in 2005. In relation to the individuated driving forces (touristic diving, visits on federal properties and nearby areas, illegal fisheries, outflow of water from the Canale Reale and from the wetland, marine pollution) the environmental analysis for the EMAS registration of the Reserve set objectives of environmental conservation. Torre Guaceto is included in the SPAMI List, according to the Barcellona Convention.