Po Delta

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
A large Mediterranean delta on the north-east coast of the Adriatic Sea, between the Adige river-mouth and the Sacca di Goro. The delta is fed by six major branches of the River Po. Its main habitats are closed brackish lagoons (`valli'), open coastal lagoons (`sacche'), sand beaches and sandbanks, rivers and riverine vegetation, and farmland. Vegetation ranges from wet woodlands to reedbeds and plants of sand-dunes and saline soils. The site is surrounded by intensively cultivated arable land. Fish-farming, agriculture and hunting are the main human activities.

Key biodiversity
A very important site for wintering waterbirds (maximum count is 48,931 for all species) and for colony-breeding waterbirds (5,500 pairs of herons, 5,000 pairs of gulls, 5,200 pairs of terns). In particular, this is the most important breeding site in the western Palearctic for Sterna albifrons. Only 1994 counts are available for wintering waterbirds (January) and for breeding herons. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Aythya nyroca (rare breeder and winterer).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Important threats are: the discharge into the River Po of urban and agricultural (especially pig-farming) sewage, causing nutrient pollution; the erosion of coastal sandbars (excessive water extraction is causing subsidence); illegal hunting; and disturbance of birds by hunting and tourism (the former at the `valli', the latter along the coast). Some or all of the site is covered by a management plan.

Protected areas
National Partial International None457 ha of IBA covered by State Nature Reserve (Bocche di Po, 457 ha). 14 ha of IBA covered by State Nature Reserve (Bonello Cà Zuliani, 14 ha). IBA also contains three State Nature Reserves of unknown area (Bonello Bacucco, Bonello Cornerona, Bonello Giozzette). 35 ha of IBA covered by Private Reserve (Biotopo Bonello, 35 ha). 32 ha of IBA covered by Private Reserve (Cà Mello, 32 ha). Part of IBA covered by Regional Nature Park (Delta del Po, area unknown).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Po Delta. Downloaded from on 15/08/2022.