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Natural Integral Reserve 'Lake Preola and Gorghi Tondi'

Inserted in 1991 between the protected natural areas of the Piano Regionale dei Parchi e delle Riserve-Regional Plan of Parks and Reserves, and managed by the Italian association for the WWF, the reserve is known for the particularity of its lakes of karstic origin and for the vegetation of great naturalistic importance. The Nature Reserve regards a strip of territory which, from Mazara goes towards Torretta Granitola, almost parallel to the coast, about 2 Km from the sea. In total it covers 335.62 hectares, of which 107.5 are in Zone A and 228 in Zone B of pre-reserve
The oasis, classified between the wetland coastal areas includes four natural basins of karstic origins: Lake Preola, il Gorgo Alto- High Gorge, il Gorgo Medio - Middle Gorge and il Gorgo Basso – Low Gorge. In the area, the so-called Catafossi are to be found; depressions originating from the subsiding of the limestone rock.
The area covers about 100 hectares, including the lakes, covered in thick marsh vegetation typical of the coastal Mediterranean lightly salted ponds. The bars of marshland vegetation almost merge with the thriving low Mediterranean scrub which clambers up and covers the limestone ridges which fall almost straight down, adjacent to the banks of the lakes and which in spring are full of colour from the multiple flowering of the meadow (wild orchids, anenomies, asphodelus, daisies, taraxacum and the beautiful Scabiosa atropurpurea).
The strips of wood with Quercus ilex and Quercus colliprinus are of great importance.
During the spring, on can admire little bitterns  and splendid red herons, and also, on top of the water,  the marsh turtles, a European Community protected species.
Preola lake, unlike the gorges which develop lengthways and are helped by the winter and spring rains, is present until mid-June as a strip of salty water about thirty centimetres deep, an ideal pond to refresh the herons, stilt plovers, spoonbills, egrets and flocks of cranes directed towards central Europe.

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