Karstics areas. A heritage to protect.

The karst areas in the evaporites are of particular importance for the rarity, the beauty of the landscape, the aspects of vegetation, the sign of relationship man-environment (archeological site, rural dwellings, furnace quarries, etc.).

Karstic areas have been always used by the man (agriculture, grazing, settlement, use of the water, etc.). From the second half of the past century, with the rise of the anthropic impacts, these areas showed up great vulnerability: they need protection.

The mean threats are:

  1. the uncontrolled fruition of the cave causes the destruction of rocks and concretions, dereliction of rubbish, alteration of environmental parameters, water pollution, disturbance to the fauna.
  2. the artificial obstruction of the sinkhole and caves causes alterations in the underground water circulation and hypogeum climate perturbation.
  3. the mass tourism not very conscious and unaware, that causes the destruction of karstic shapes and natural environment, disturbance to the fauna and flora.
  4. the realization of water wells, roads and excavations causes pollution of the water table, destruction of the landscape and natural environment, disturbance to the fauna and flora, etc.
  5. impactful agricultural activities cause alterations in the underground water circulation and in the natural environments, pollution of the aquifer.

Fortunately, in the last years, the consciousness of naturalistic and cultural importance of these areas rise and have been launched politics and actions of protection and valorization, including foundation of “geosites” (areas of big geological interest), of parks and natural reserves.

Today, the majority of evaporites areas of Sicily it’s inside the system of protected areas, instituted by the Region: 12 natural reserves and 1 regional park.

In 2012 the “Network of protected area situated in areas with evaporitic rocks” has been founded. It’s an important result that establish the scientific importance of these areas and the role of protected areas, and that intend to begin research initiatives, protection, fruition and valorization, in collaboration with initiative of national (GEOSITES) and international importance (GEOPARK).

Santa Ninfa’s areas: from knowledge to tutelage and valorization.

  1. This area is known and studied since firsts years of 1900; in the 1986-87 has been an intensive multidisciplinary campaign that involved a lot of researchers and volunteers.
  2. In 1991 this area it has been inserted in the Regional plans of Naturals Reserves; the Nature Reserve has been instituted in 1995 and has been entrusted to “Legambiente Sicilia”.
  3. Lots of management actions done: rise of knowledge, decrease of anthropic impact, naturalistic and scientific divulgation, regulation of fruition.


Moderate and respectful anthropization.
Example of destruction of epigean karst forms.
Obstruction of sinkhole with debris and rubbish.
Alteration of areas and karst forms.