The Torbiera Selvote (Selvote Fens), occupying 59.8 hectares and created in 2001, falls within the municipality of Castions di Strada. This area contains many habitats that characterise the Friuli springs (risorgive) system. There are streams with their typical aquatic vegetation, a large central fen with Cladium beds, fens dominated by Schoenus nigricans, a wet meadow on peaty soil dominated by Molinia caerulea, and a recently formed wood of black alder. There are also semi-natural areas where man has modified the morphology but that are still important for conservation of biodiversity. This biotope is included in an agricultural context and so represents an important biodiversity shelter. The most important plant species present are Armeria helodes, which here reaches its most easterly point of distribution, Erucastrum palustre and Gladiolus palustris, all species listed in Annex II of the Habitat Directive. There are also present the rare Centaurea forojulensis and Peucedanum palustre, while in the restored area Baldellia ranunculoides, Butomus umbellatus and Apium nodiflorum are now becoming more widespread.
This biotope is also very important as a point for conservation and shelter of fauna. Important invertebrates include the freshwater crayfish, now extremely rare. Amphibians are well represented both by the various species of frog (including the endemic Italian agile frog) and by the newts. In these wet environments, the common lizard is also present as a glacial relict, and the fresh water turtle is found. The asp viper and other snakes also occur in these natural areas. As regards avifauna, the role of shelter is very considerable, since the area falls within a territory that overall is under intense anthropic pressure. This marsh is used for shelter and breeding by the common harrier, and by the hen harrier for wintering. Birds of prey here include the marsh harrier and osprey. Of particular note is the presence of various ardeids such as the purple heron, great egret, grey heron, great bittern, little bittern, night heron, squacco heron and little egret.
Along with a small population of roe deer, this biotope also is home to the rare 'puzzola' (a type of polecat) as well as other commoner mustelids such as the martin and weasel. Particular rodents here in sizable populations include the watervole and harvest mouse. Of the insectivores, the most characteristic and fairly common here is the watershrew, found only in marshy environments.
In the heart of the biotope there is a huge restored area on formerly agricultural land, which has enriched the area with new animal and plant species. Drier environments are in fact present here, with species typical of the brometi (Bromus grassland), plus a huge amphibian area that is subject to oscillations in the lake water level and a sizable zone today recolonised by large marsh species such as Typha latifolia and Cladium mariscus.
It is particularly noteworthy that some species typical of these environments reappeared after many years of absence, as soon as the restoration work was completed.
This highlights the power of the seed-bank held in the soil, even following long years of agricultural use.