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Foce del Fiume Irminio

The site preserves a coastal forest patch of Phoenician juniper and Mastic tree on dune ridges, representing an exceptional testimony to the vegetation and landscape that once characterized and defined the sandy coasts of southern Sicily. These aspects, now almost entirely disappeared, hold significant scientific importance due to the numerous plants and animals that are linked to and adapted to sandy, dune, and hinterdune environments, which are endangered due to the disappearance and/or rarity of their preferred habitats. This phenomena is due to the urbanization and the extensive use of beaches for bathing and, more generally, for tourism purposes.
The garrigue of Contrada Maulli, unlike the more common ones which are usually found on acidic substrates and dominated by Cistus sp. due to such erosion, is an extremely rare garrigue formation; it is established on typically loamy and alluvial soil substrates. The area is used as a resting area for many species of migratory birds. It hosts significant populations of the European pond turtle and the leopard snake. Moreover, it can include a rich ichthyofauna, with species deserving the highest level of protection due to their relative rarity. The invertebrate fauna is also rich and diversified due to the high environmental heterogeneity of the site. Endemic or rare species can be found among the freshwater, riparian, psammophilous and phytocoenosis fauna.