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Home » Living the Delta » Museums and Visitor Centers

Donada fossil dunes

Via Cao Marina, 1/C
45014 Porto Viro | View on Map
Municipality: Porto Viro

Tel. 349/4260709

Porto Viro fossil dunes, situated within Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po, play a considerable role for their historical, geomorphological, and natural aspects. Moreover, they are in the list of the Sites of Community Importance and are subject to hydrogeological and landscape-environmental restrictions.
In order to safeguard these landscape values, a part of the dune area of Donada of about 24 hectares has been purchased in 1997 by Regione del Veneto, thanks to Community funds (Program LIFE-DELTA PO).
The area has been entrusted to the forest service "Servizio Forestale Regionale di Padova e Rovigo", whose management has educational and conservation aims, like in the Coastal Botanic Gardens of Veneto in Porto Caleri (Rosolina).
Thanks to another project Life Natura, it has been possible to fence in the whole area and to carry out maintenance measures regarding the trails, as well as to create small visitor centers and the signals. Finally, with the collaboration of Ente Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po, it has been possible to further improve the information and didactic structures.

Historical and Geomorphological Features
As far as history and landscape are concerned, Donada fossil dunes enable to identify what was, during the Etruscan period, the ancient Adriatic coastline.
The advancing of the coastline caused by the supply of sediments carried by the river Po has therefore isolated these dune bars in the middle of the countryside. Today the remaining fossil dunes represent what is left of the large system of coastline bars which formed between the pre-Etruscan period and the early Middle Ages.
Such big system, which also included ten-meter high dunes, has been irreparably destroyed by sand excavation and the expansion of the agricultural and production activities.
Porto Viro fossil dunes are the only ones remaining in the province of Rovigo, together with the dune relicts which can be found in the Municipalities of Rosolina (Volto) and Ariano nel Polesine (Grillara and San Basilio).

Without a doubt, Donadna fossil dunes are inhabited by characteristic herbaceous species like Centaurea tommasini, Scabiosa argentea, Osyris albaand rare orchids like Anacamptis pyramidalis, Orchis morio, and Orchis simia. Moreover, fragments of xerophilous shrubs represent the intermediate terms in the evolution of the ilex grove, which can be phytosociologically traced back both to Quercetalia ilicis, with Ilex (Quercus ilex), Phylliera (Phillirea angustifolia), Wild Asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius), and Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus), and to Prunetalia spinosae, with Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), European Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), and Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
Paradoxically, the least important vegetal formation is the most evident one, that is the pinewood with Stone Pine (Pinus pinea), the result of a reforestation activity carried out in the 40s and 50s.

Donada fossil dunes
Donada fossil dunes
(photo by: Archivio Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po)

(photo by: Archivio Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po)
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