Limpid water, uncontaminated nature, strips of land rich in history and archaeological remains, working salt pans, low sea beds, shallow water, which in some points can be passed over on foot characterise the Riserva Naturale Orientata Isole dello Stagnone – Oriented Nature Reserve of the Stagnone Isles, one of the first to be established in Sicily (1984); it protects the Stagnone lagoon, a pool of water separated from the open sea by the Isola Grande, with three small islands inside, Mozia, Santa Maria and Schola. Along the banks of the canals of the salt pans halophilious plants are present, including the suaeda maritima, glasswort, salsola soda, limonium, inula, and limoniastrum. Already from July the Stagnone receives the autumnal migrating birds: the curlew and the glossy ibis; with the cold weather, the ducks arrive together with the duck-hawk who lies in wait for them, the dun birds, teals, coots, wild ducks, pintails, and the garganeys. Superb and proud herons search for food in the pools of the salt pans.
Oriented Nature Reserve of the Stagnone Isles
The archipelago of the Stagnone Islands covers an area of 2000 hectares between Punta S. Teodoro and Capo Lilibeo. Its management is entrusted to Provincia Regionale of Trapani. The reserve includes the whole lagoon, separated from the open sea by the isola Grande, with three small islands inside, Mozia, Santa Maria and Schola. It is the biggest lagoon in Sicily and has an environment of enormous naturalistic importance and the landscape is of great suggestion. The Salt pans, still in activity, are worked with traditional methods. The highly brackish environment is the kingdom of the Chenopodiaceae: along the banks of the salt pans, and in the salty temporary marshes, this family of phanerogams flaunts its richness of halophilious species belonging to numerous types (Salicornia, Arthrocnemum, Halopeplis, Halocnemum, Suaeda, Salsola, Atriplex, Halimione, Beta). Noteworthy is the presence, within the confines of the Reserve, of diverse rare species of vegetation, those which are most vulnerable and in danger of extinction recorded in the “Libro Rosso delle Piante d'Italia”-“Red Book of the Plants of Italy”: Halocnemum strobilaceum, Halopeplis amplexicaulis, Aeluropus lagopoides, Limoniastrum monopetalum, Limonium ferulaceum, Calendula maritima.
The birdlife also of great interest, particularly migrating birds which include the glossy ibis, the egret, the heron, the godwit, the lesser whitethroat and the wild duck; among the nesting birds are the serin, the titlark, the goldfinch and the crested lark. The meadows of posidonia, which cover the better part of the floor of the lagoon are splendid. The warm, shallow water of the lagoon make an ideal habitat for an extremely rich water fauna.
About 3 km North of the historical pier, in Birgi Nivaloro district, the ancient road connection to the island of Mozia, the so-called “Punic road”, begins under the level of the water. In the coastal area there are a number of schools of windsurf, kite surf, canoeing and sailing, which are a strong attraction for the young sporty tourist. In the waters of the Stagnone tourist fishing is also practiced.