A Natural Wildlife Reserve

of…… Scenery

The “Zompo Lo Schioppo” Natural Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Region of Abruzzi situated in the Municipality of Morino (AQ). Its 1025 acres are located in the Valle Roveto, a deep valley which covers an area of 30 kilometres in the NW-SE direction in the heart of the Apennines between the regions of Lazio and Abruzzi, between the “Monti Simbruini” Regional Park and the National Park of Abruzzi. It is very interesting to try “to read” the variety of environmental and human components present in this area; thanks to their integration the result is complex and recognizable scenery. Cultivated fields, rows of grape vines and woods with stately oak trees characterize the areas closest to the populated areas while in the higher areas columnar beech trees and yew trees populated the forest that is crossed by the Romito Torrent. At the top of the mountains, on the sunny and sheer slopes, rises the “Zompo Lo Schioppo” spectacular natural waterfall. The groundwater table, contained within a system of Karstic cavities, increases its level following winter precipitation, then comes to the surface and creates the waterfall right between the calcareous reefs and the underlying impermeable rocks. These mountains were the scene of disastrous earthquakes over the centuries, the last of which was on 13 January 1915, and which determined an epochal turning point in environmental and social characteristics of the Val Roveto area. The abandoning of the medieval areas and the transfer of the populated areas to the valley floor, close to the road communication system, caused the “split” of the urban areas, with the new built-up area situated next to the old ruined areas. This is still one of the most evident characteristics of the constructed landscape and of the social relationships between the inhabitants, scattered among the towns Morino, Grancia and Rendinara. The municipal administration of Morino, in collaboration with Legambiente has managed the protected area since its foundation. Innovative projects focused on the sharing of management policies with the local community and on the individualization of lasting and eco-sustainable economic activities have been activated for some years now.

Hidden from one’s sight, the water flows inside the mountain, seeps through Karstic openings, wells and dolinas, pushing itself through the cracks in the calcareous rocks that form these mountains. It fills caves, digs holes and then comes to surface in rich springs. Among these, that of the Schioppo gushes out from a vertical wall and gives life to a spectacular waterfall of more than 80m in height; it is one of the rare intermittent Karstic springs of the Apennines; in fact, it is active in the Spring when the groundwater table rises due to the thawing of the snow on the mountain tops.

… Forests
From the mountain peaks to the cultivated valley floor, the landscape created by the flora is varied and rich in rare and precious species. Willows and beech trees, black alders, grow along the banks of the torrents, while various mosses and liverworts create a soft carpet on the cliffs near the waterfall. Under it, at an unusually low altitude (700 bsl), there is a beech wood that resists, with many century-old trees. On the cliffs, with a favourable micro-climate, we find the Holm-oak (Quercus ilex); the black hornbeam, manna-ash, field maple and bitter oak make up the woods in the lower area. There is also an area with Taxus baccata of notable importance and which is object of a special project financed by the European Union: the LIFE project “Conservation of the Apennine Beech wood with Taxus and Ilex”.

... Experiences
Hundreds of ways of thinking, of speaking, of listening… hundreds of ways of smiling and discovering. And it is while thinking about these hundreds ( any many more) ways of being and feeling that the Reserve carries out its activities aimed at awakening public opinion to environmental problems, with its main objective being that of the “sustainability- unsustainability” of the socioeconomic models now being used. We on the Reserve work to help the citizens to be active subjects in the choices which concern the area where they live, to better the quality of life and of the environment. With this goal in mind, our environmental education programme is mainly directed at schools and those working in this field (from nursery schools to university, within and outside of the territory), to the young and at those who are guests of the Reserve. One hundred spaces, therefore, with which to build a society that is aware of and respectful towards its environment and towards human beings. A hundred paths that allow one to live and share all the aspects of this territory: the town streets, the squares, the institutional sites, the spaces dedicated to communication, the river, the woods, the barns, the fields, the vegetable gardens, the people and the “characters” with their emotional enthusiasm and their knowledge.