Stagno di Sale Porcus

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Photo: © MEDSEA

Stagno di Sale Porcus 3


Stagno di Sale Porcus was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on 03-05-1982.

More about the site

Sale ‘e Porcus is the largest temporary pond in Sardinia. The water inputs of this pond are only rainfall and surface runoff and it dries up completely during summer. The site hosts a lot of wintering migratory water-birds such as crane, shelducks, geese, etc., as well as interesting resident species. It is a nesting area for the avocets, black-winged stilts, and rare gulls and hosts an interesting planktonic crustaceans’ community.


The Sale ‘e Porcus pond is included in the Nature 2000 network and is a Site of Community Interest (ITB030016) according to the Directive 92/43/EEC and a Special Protection Area (ITB030035) according to the EU Bird Directive. The SCI and SPA include the Sale ‘e Porcus wetland and the close lagoon of Is Benas. In these sites, there are habitats of priority interest such as 1150* (coastal lagoon) and 1510* Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia) and 6220 Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals (Thero-Brachypodietea), 1410 Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetaliamaritimi), 5330 Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub.


The analysis of Nature 2000 sheet for SPA reports the presence of 24 species of birds included in art. 4 of the EU Bird Directive 2009/147/CE. Moreover, there are reported 6 SPEC1 (Aythya farina, Haematopus ostralegus, Lanius senator, Limosa limosa, Numenius arquata, Vanellus vanellus), 4 SPEC2 (Delichon urbicum, Muscicapa striata, Saxicola torquatus, Tringa totanus) and 20 SPEC3. Furthemore, 11 species included in the Annex-A of CITES Convention (Anas querquedula, Ardea alba, Athene noctua, Bubulcus ibis, Buteo buteo, Circus aeruginosus, Circus cyaneus, Egretta garzetta, Falco tinnunculus, Grus grus, Pandion haliaetus) and 2 listed in the Appendix 1 of CMS Convention (Aythya niroca, Calidris canutus, Coracias garrulus, Larus audouinii). Furthermore, the presence of endemic amphibians, threatened reptiles and rare plants has been reported as well.


The Sale ‘e Porcus vegetation hosts several interesting species, some of which are present in the IUCN Red List such as Salicornia patula and Urginea fugax as well as interesting orchid species in the sense of Washington Convention. Moreover, there is a large number of endemic plants species in a small distribution area (Euphorbia pithyusa sub. cupanni, Limonium dubium, L. glomeratum, etc.).


Habitats of priority interest are: 1150* (coastal lagoon) and 1510* Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia) and 6220* Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals (Thero-Brachypodietea).


a) Provisioning services: the Pond in San Vero Milis is especially known for the vegetation that is used for traditional handcrafts. The Pond of Sal ‘e Porcus is included in the project MARISTANIS which includes the identification of the ES in the wetlands.


b) Regulating services: the Pond in San Vero Milis represents a Nature-based Solution for the mitigation of extreme events (flood protection, carbon storage). The Pond of Sal ‘e Porcus is included in the project MARISTANIS that includes the identification of the ES in the wetlands. The role of Nature based Solutions in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change consequences will be included in the Coastal Wetlands Contract Action Plan.


c) Supporting services: the Pond in San Vero Milis is especially known for the landscape: it represents an example of a pond without tributaries which is dry for most of the year, and it is a typical African ecosystem which in Europe can only be found in Sardinia. It is very well known as a biodiversity hotspot: it was the first Flamingo nesting site in Sardinia and today is the only place in Sardinia and one of the few in Italy where the cranes overwinter. Some native and endemic plants are in the area. The Pond of Sal ’e Porcus is included in the project MARISTANIS which includes the identification of the ES in the wetlands. Improving the supporting ecosystem services is one of the main reasons to adopt the Coastal Wetlands Contract.


d) Cultural services: the Pond in San Vero Milis are especially known for the beauty of the landscape and for its uniqueness compared to the other lagoons in Italy and Europe. Several people usually walk or cycle in the surrounding areas. The Pond of Sal ’e Porcus is included in the project MARISTANIS that includes the identification of the ES in the wetlands. Local traditions (including handcraft made with reeds, rush and several other herbs) are deeply influenced by the presence of the Lagoons and the existence value is highly recognised and one of the reasons to promote an integrated management through the Coastal Wetlands Contract.

The site has has exceptional records of former civilizations that have influenced the ecological character of the wetland including:

– Scala e’ Sali coastal tower (1584)

– Nuraghe S’Urachi

– Salina Manna salt flat

The Municipality carries out different kinds of activities mainly addressed to informing about and involving the population in the importance of wetlands through the dissemination of information materials, meetings and conferences open to the public, the organisation of World Wetland Day (once a year) and the Coastal Day (once a year), birdwatching, and educational classes with scholars in the wetland territories.

  1. Legal protection (implemented)


  1. Habitat:

– Hydrology management/restoration (proposed)

– Re-vegetation (proposed)

– Land conversion controls (implemented)


  1. Species:

– Control of invasive alien plants (proposed)

– Control of invasive alien animals (proposed)


  1. Human Activities:

– Management of water abstraction/takes (implemented)

– Regulation/management of wastes (implemented)

– Communication, education, and participation and awareness activities (implemented)

Despite the high level of biodiversity, all six Ramsar areas of the Oristano’s Gulf are affected by different sources of pollution.


  1. a) Driver: Agriculture

Pollution sources: nutrients and other chemical products used in agriculture

Type of pollution: non-point pollution

In the Oristano area, agriculture is mainly carried out with standard practices with a widespread use of nutrients, pesticides and herbicides, particularly in the field of rice growing and in vegetable production (i.e., artichokes). The problem does not only concern productive agriculture aimed at the regional and national market but also the so-called hobbyists, who practice family horticulture (a very popular activity in Sardinia).


  1. b) Driver: Sheep breeding

Pollution sources: manure from animals 

Type of pollution: point pollution

Sheep breeding is a traditional activity and very popular in Sardinia. Agropastoral activities also take place along the borders of the ponds. In some cases, SCI/SPA Management Plans and/or municipal ordinances do not allow it on pond borders, but these measures are often disregarded. Pollution from droppings along the banks is the main sheep-breeding impact.


  1. c) Driver: Unauthorised discharges from agriculture, breeding and agritourism

Pollution sources: nutrients and other chemical products from agriculture, washing waters from milking and other agri-food activities, septic tanks from rural houses, farms and agritourism

Type of pollution: point pollution

Despite lack of data and information, Environment Agency experts, experts at the Agriculture Department for Technical Assistance, and local stakeholders indicated leakages from illegal or unauthorised discharges or bad maintenance of septic tanks in rural housing, agricultural and agritourism sector. The main problem concerns small structures surrounding protected areas.


  1. d) Driver: Illegal waste disposal or littering

Pollution sources: different sources of pollution are related to illegal disposal

Type of pollution: point pollution

Illegal littering is one of the main environmental issues in Sardinia. A few years ago, the Regional Government launched an awareness-raising campaign to discourage illegal disposal. Main and rural roads, rural areas, reeds are among the favourite habitats used by polluters. Wetlands are not recognised as protected areas by most citizens and are considered a suitable place to throw waste. Negative impacts on the environment and waters depends on the type of waste:

– Plastic waste could be eaten by fish and affect the quality of the fishery in lagoons and ponds

– Food waste could be quickly degraded, producing leachate that could pollute water and soil

– Batteries and other tools could lose toxic substances that could pollute water

– Materials with asbestos could be really dangerous for the ecosystem and human and animal health 


  1. e) Driver: human disturbances due to uncontrolled recreational activities

Pollution sources: noise, harvesting endangered species, accidental death of birds (eggs) and other animals, straying of dogs and cats and other source of pollution that could affect bird nesting areas and other ecological communities; soil and water pollution

Type of pollution: point pollution

Uncontrolled human presence could produce noise, littering and other disturbances and pollution. Human presence and recreational activities are not regulated in the Oristano Ramsar areas.


  1. f) Driver: Invasive Alien Species

Pollution sources: conflict with native species, problems with habitats that could alter wetland conditions

Type of pollution: point pollution


Yes. The management Plan is currently subject to review and update.

Latest update on November 2020

Stagno di Sale Porcus 2