Rewilding Puglia – Oasi Lago Salso

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Oasi Lago Salso – Manfredonia – Puglia - Italy
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    National Park, SPA, SCI, IBA

In the Salso Lake Oasis, several ongoing projects have allowed the conversion of 500 hectares of agricultural land (cultivated until 2006) to a natural situation with Mediterranean wetlands and meadows. The environmental situation has favored an increase in biodiversity in particular of waterfowl species.

The vast spaces of the marsh with, in the background, the Gargano promontory. The whole area is included in the Gargano National Park.


  • Habitat types: 3170* Mediterranean temporary ponds, 1410 Mediterranean salt meadows Juncetalia maritimi, 1420 Sarcocornietea fruticosi, 6220* Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea
  • Keystone species present: Ferruginous Duck, Bittern, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Lanner
  • Fauna species reintroduced: Restocking of Lesser Kestrel and White Stork, and soon a program for the Little Bustard will be developed
  • Vegetation types present: Vegetation of Phragmitetum australis, vegetation of Typhetum angustifoliae, hydrophilic vegetation, hydric community with Ceratophyllum and Utricularia, herbaceous formations and halophilous herbaceous, grassy pseudosteppe formations


  • Description: The project has put together different experiences in synergy, like the LIFE projects for the restoration of habitats for priority bird species and restocking activities. In the area impressive recovery actions were taken turning 500 ha of agricultural land into swamps and grasslands. In addition, restocking efforts were made for species of emotional impact as White Stork and of high conservation value as Lesser Kestrel. Recently a LIFE project has started for the recovery of Little Bustard.
  • Aim: The purpose is to provide a first regional experience for rewilding through restoration and maintenance of natural original habitats of the plain named Tavoliere delle Puglie and the coastal zone of the Gulf of Manfredonia and the recovery of endangered or extinct species.
  • Vision: The purpose of the project is to review, through a process of rewilding, the historical landscape of this part of the plains in Puglia. In earlier days, this was determined by the ancient practice of transhumance that created large savannas interspersed with wetlands, until they were transformed into farmland.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: The area is definitely devoted to the conservation of natural resources, by means of activities performed for the maintenance of habitats and species at a favorable conservation status, as well as other programs for restocking or reintroduction of species.
  • Uniqueness: The area used to be visited by a species on the brink of extinction: the Slender-billed Curlew. It is one of the most important wetlands in south-central Italy due to the presence of more than 300 species of birds, many of which are considered priority birds.
  • Results so far: Restoration of 250 hectares of Mediterranean wetlands, restoration of 250 hectares of Mediterranean pasture, increases in populations of priority bird species for the EC (listed in Annex 1 of the Dir. n. 79/409/CEE).
  • Flagship species: Other
  • Other characteristics: Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research


  • Inspirational value: Rewilding Puglia, at present, is made with various financial instruments although Life fundings are the most important ones. This type of demonstration projects can be implemented in other similar areas of southern Italy, taking advantage of the funding opportunities offered by the EC. In this sense, the activities undertaken and in progress represent pilot projects replicable in other sites.
  • Experience you would like to share: Techniques of captive breeding and restocking priority bird species; Recovery techniques for marsh and pasture habitats
  • Experience you would like to gain: Best practices and planning for habitat conservation; Best techniques for habitat restoration, including through the use of large herbivorous mammals, including grazing of large herbivorous mammals
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