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Type of protected area - Where it is located
Typology: Regional Natural Park; established with L.R. February 26, 1999, n. 5.
The Molentargius - Saline Natural Park occupies a large wetland (1,622 hectares) which is located between the Municipalities of Cagliari, Quartu S. Elena, Quartucciu and Selargius. The ponds are protected by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands of international importance (1977).
View of the Molentargius - Saline Natural Park (photo www.sitos.regione.sardegna.it)
The protected area includes the Bellarosa Maggiore (or Molentargius) brackish water pond, the Bellarosa Minore freshwater pond, the Quartu saltwater pond, the flat strip of land of Is Arenas which separates the ponds. The cordon sandy del Poetto and the stretch of sea in front do not fall within the perimeter of the park.
Where there is now the pond of Molentargius, once upon a time there was the sea. The streams that flowed into the sea carried many debris that were deposited along the mouth forming a large swampy area. Over the centuries, the Is Arenas cordon formed, the sea level rose and filled the pond.About 6,500 years ago, the sandy Poetto cordon formed, parallel to the Is Arenas strip of land; in the west, the sea continued to enter, forming a lagoon behind the sand dunes which closed 5,000 years ago, imprisoning a stretch of sea between Is Arenas and Poetto, giving life to what we now call the Quartu pond. Quartu SantElena has had considerable importance in the extraction of salt since the time of Roman domination. The extraction structures developed mainly from the eighteenth century, due to the strong demand for salt from Cagliari by the North European markets, but the first industrial plants were born in the thirties of the following century. The bed of the salifera area underwent various modifications until 1984, when pollution problems made it necessary to suspend this activity. Today part of the old buildings linked to the extraction of salt (industrial buildings, community buildings and workers' homes) are abandoned; among those still used we mention the old management (which houses offices) and the Sali Scelti building, once used for the purification of salt for industrial use, and today, after careful restoration, it houses the Consortium of the Molentargius - Saline Regional Natural Park.
Flora and fauna
The plant species present in the protected area are of great naturalistic importance. We report the presence of different endemisms, such as Limonium dubium, Limonium glomeratum, Euphorbia pithyusa subsp. cupanii.
It constitutes an area of extraordinary importance for the stopping, wintering and nesting of many water birds. Among the most important avifaunistic species, we remember: the pink seagull, the flamingo, the red great egret, the egret, the marsh harrier, the sultan chicken, the Italian knight, lavocetta, the pecker, the kingfisher and many others.
Flamingos in the Molentargius pond (photo www.sitos.regione.sardegna.it)
Seat of the Molentargius - Saline Natural Park (photo www.parconaturalemolentargius.it)
Information for the visit
Consortium of the Molentargius - Saline Regional Natural Park
Selected Salts Building - Via La Palma
09126 Cagliari (CA)