Paludi del Corno
The Paludi del Corno (the Corno Marshes), 87 hectare biotope, is located in the upper part of the spring area and it is crossed by the first section of the river Corno. The groundwater outcrops in rnany points, designing a rich surface hydrographical network and a mosaic of environrnents, madeup of fens, darnp rneadows, hygrophilous scrubs and water habitats with an extraordinary diversity of animal and plant species. Themain habitats of this environrnental systern are present, distributed along a gradient of water availability and dependent on a low presence of nutrients.
The northern part of the biotope features a watertable that is almost entirely underground, while the area to the south consists of fens that are always saturated.
The vegetation is characterized by Cladium beds, low alkaline fens dominated by Schoenus nigricans, Molinia meadows that were once regularly mown, and some edge strips of drier grasslands on natural or artificial humps.
There are also hygrophilous woods rich in black alder, often just a few decades old. The biotope also includes several cultivated areas.
The flora is really rich, characterized by endemic species, glacial relicts and floristic rarities. Today, this biotype has the largest known colony of the species Erucastrum palustre (over 1000 individuals) listed in Annex II of the Habitat Directive, and also has Euphrasia marchesettii, along with the rare Sesleria uliginosa, Senecio fontanicola, Centaurea forojulensis and a number of orchids. The area of what are now rare peaty Molinia meadows hosts Allium suaveolens, Gentiana pneumonanthe and Serratula tinctoria. The dry meadows here are rich in Graminaceae and typical species ofthe alluvial plain of Friuli. The transition zones are home to the extremely rare Dianthus superbus, symbol of this biotope.
The biotope'swater and wet environments are extremely important for the fauna present. The many insects found include the nocturnal moth Euplagia quadripunctaria, a species of key interest to the European Community. The freshwater crayfish is found in the lower fen, and there are also fairly abundant populations of amphibians. These include the crested newt, the yellow-bellied toad, and various species of frog, including the Italian agile frog (Rana latastel), endemicin the Padano-Veneto lowland. Reptiles of note include the common lizard, a species found in fresh mountain environments up to over 2200 metres, which in the lowland can truly be considered a glacial relict. Snakes found here include the dice snake (Natrix tessellata) and the water snake, two totally harmless reptiles that are shy of man, excellent swimmers and found in damp environments for reasons linked to feeding and reproduction. Also here, though increasingly rare, is the European pond turtle.
Considering the birdlife, the area is an important site for shelter and reproduction for birds of prey. In particular, nesting of Montagu's harrier (a day-time bird of prey threatened with extinction) has been record ed here, as have the sparrow hawk, common kestrel and buzzard. Nocturnal birds of prey include the long-eared owl, tawny owl and civetta owl. Other important species are the little bittern, great bittern, marsh harrier and kingfisher. As for mammals, the roe deer, hare and "puzzola" (a type of polecat) can be found. This latter is particularly associated with wet environments, for which reason the reduction of these habitats is a factor that threatens its survival. Restoration schemes have already been launched in formerly cultivated areas of the biotope these will be followed-up and extended in future years. Along the via dei Mulini (windmill road) the structures built to harness the hydro-power of the river Corno are still present. The biotope is a part of the inter-municipal river Corno Park; a set of descriptive panels have been erected for guidance.