A complex of wetlands and cultivated land on the eastern Padana plain, being the remnants of a large complex of lagoons, most of which were drained from 1850 onwards. The main sites are Valli di Comacchio, Sacca di Bellocchio, Bonifica del Mezzano and three heronries (Garzaia di Lepri, Garzaia di Bando, Garzaia di Ostellato). The shallow, brackish lagoon of Valli di Comacchio is the largest in Italy and one of the largest in the Mediterranean basin. Sacca di Bellocchio is a complex of saltmarshes (Salicornia, Suaeda) located in between the Valli and the Adriatic Sea. Bonifica del Mezzano is an agricultural area, formerly a lagoon (linked to the Valli di Comacchio) which was drained in the 1960s. The most important human activities are fish-farming, hunting and tourism in Valli di Comacchio, agriculture in Bonifica del Mezzano and nature conservation in Sacca di Bellocchio.
A very important site for breeding, migrating and wintering waterbirds, especially for Sterna albifrons. Valli di Comacchio is important for breeding terns, gulls and waders and for passage and wintering ducks and Fulica atra. Bonifica del Mezzano is important as a feeding area for wintering geese Anser, for the presence of heronries, and for its potential value for wetland-restoration projects.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Major threats are: the lowering of the water-table and consequent erosion of the small islets used by breeding waterbirds; disturbance of birds by hunters, birdwatchers and photographers; intensive fish-farming involving the creation of artificial pools in place of the traditional `valli', especially along the southern border of the Valli di Comacchio, using EU funds; pollution of water with nutrients from cultivated land and especially from a large 26,000-pig farm. Waterbirds are censused in midwinter and during the breeding season (colonial species). Botanical and entomological studies have been carried out by Università di Ferrara. LIPU is carrying out a wetland-restoration project at Volta Scirocco, along the southern border of the Valli di Comacchio, with support from the EU (LIFE programme).
National Partial International Partial48 ha of IBA covered by State Nature Reserve (Destra foce fiume Reno, 48 ha). 45 ha of IBA covered by State Nature Reserve (Foce fiume Reno, 45 ha). 163 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Sacca di Bellocchio (I), 163 ha). 83 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Sacca di Bellocchio (II), 83 ha). 38 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Sacca di Bellocchio (III), 38 ha). 13,500 ha of IBA covered by Regional Nature Park (Delta del Po, 59,118 ha). Part of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Valle Gorino, Bertuzzi, Comacchio, Ortazzo, Baiona, 20,400 ha). 223 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Sacca di Bellocchio, 223 ha). 13,500 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Valli residue del comprensorio di Comacchio, 13,500 ha).
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Valli di Comacchio and Bonifica del Mezzano. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/04/2020.