THE PEAT-BOG of LAKE ISEO
The Natural Reserve of the Peat-bog of Lake Iseo is a wet area. It is situated between the morainic hills of Franciacorta and Lake Iseo, and it is one of the few still present in Italy. The territory of the Reserve is about 360 ha large and is composed of three well-defined areas. In the central part there is the so called LAMA, born during the l9th century from the excavation of the peat which was used as fuel. North of it, next to the lake, there is the LAMETTA, a large bed of reeds cut by canals, excavated during the 60s to get peat used in gardening. Finally, in the South-West there are some clay quarries which were excavated during the 60s and the 70s.
EVOLUTION OF THE RESERVE TERRITORY
The millenary history of the Peat-bog started at the end of the last glaciation (Wurm) between 70000 and 10000 years ago: the withdrawal of a glacier left a large marshy depression where a flourishing vegetation grew and later formed a peat deposit. At the end of the l8th century the local people started excavating the peat which was used as fuel.
THE EXCAVATION OF THE PEAT
It was between the years 1850 and 1950 that the excavation of the peat, used by the rising industries in Lombardy, took place. The company which had the license to excavate the peat, employed from 100 to 200 men during that time. The technique used to excavate was always the same: a "cage-spade" with a handle about 5 m long (that was the maximum depth of the peat layer) was used to extract 1-meter-long columns, which were later cut into small cubes and dried before being sold.
A certain number of objects of archeological interest were found during the excavation and experts say that the area of the Reserve has been inhabited since 5000 IB.C.. Infact some stone tools were found in the area called "Cerreto", while other tools both in stone and in metal date back to the Copper and Bronze Ages (2000/1000 B.C.).
WHY A NATURAL RESERVE?
The peat-bog has been a Natural Reserve since 1984 (Regional Law n° 86/83). It is controlled by a group of people representing the three villages of Iseo, Provaglio and Cortefranca, the Province of Brescia and the Comunità Montana del Sebino. It has been declared 'Biotope of extraordinary importance' and it is internationally interesting for migratory birds, as stated by the Convention of Ramsar. The aims of the Reserve are:
- protect the natural features and the landscape of the peat-bog
- ensure a suitable habitat for migratory birds to reproduce
- control the territory for scientific and educational aims.
The territory of the Reserve is divided into three zones:
A: total reserve, the central and most interesting part
B: partial reserve
C: agricultural areas around the peat-bog
During the excavation of the peat the water filled the pools which were being formed giving the area its present appearance. At present the main contribution of water is given by ram, underwater springs, small streams and by the Fontanino, the main water spring situated by one of the main access areas of the Reserve. Evaporation and a canal connecting the peat-bog with the lake let the water keep a standard level. The water of the Lama is not very deep, it is warm in summer and it freezes in winter. The pools are full of plancton and benthos; particularly interesting is the zooplancton which are not very common.
Because of the excavation of the peat, the original vegetation of the area changed a lot: many species disappeared and new ones were introduced. At present the existing flora is extremely interesting for its variety. The most common species are: white water-lilies, yellow water-lilies, reeds, sedges rushes, horsetails, arrowheads, poplars, plane-trees, willows, alders, elms, cornel-trees, acacias, etc.
Many species of fish are present in the Reserve; The most common are: catfish ,luce, tench, carp, eel, perch, bleak, etc.
The migratory and non-migratory birds of the Reserve are extremely important. Since the birth of the Reserve as a protected area, there has been a positive increase in the number of species of birds present: from the 16 recorded in the 70s to 28/30 nowadays. The nesting species are: herons, swans, reed lings, coots, sedge warblers, water-hens, mallards, gulls, garganeys, reed sparrows, night herons, water-rails, penduline tits, great-crested grebes, little grebes, spotted rails, marsh-harriers, kingfishers. Migratory birds are also very interesting and they can be seen above all in winter and spring. The most common are: tufted ducks, pochards, shovellers, teals, pintails, gray and white herons, little egrets, cormorants, bitterns, small black terns, 1imico1ouses and many small singing birds.
THE MONASTERY OF S. PIETRO IN LAMOSA
The monastery, which was built where previously there had been a pagan site of worship is romanesque in style: the oldest part (the absidis and the tower bell dates back to the 10th century while other parts were added between 1100 and 1500 giving the monastery its present shape. A document dated 1083 states that this building was donated by some Longobard nobles to the monks of Cluny.
In 1535 the monastery passed to the Canonici of S. Salvatore in Brescia, who kept it till the age of Napoleon, when they were expropriated from it.
In the interior it is possible to see interesting frescoes dating from 1300 to 1500 which have recently been restored.
For further information and visits phone the Associazione Amici del Monastero (tel. 030983504).
In order to ensure the conservation of the various aspects of this biotope, the area enjoys the financial support of the Project Life-Natura which aims at its environmental protection, involving also the local administration.
Visitors must avoid loud noises. Birdwatchers should have good binoculars, avoid bright-colour clothes and wear boots useful in case of rain, as the ground can be muddy and flooded for several days.
The area is included in the map of the IGM IV-NW, 47, scale 25.000.
There is also a written guide-book called "Torbiere del Sebino" printed by the Consorzio, which provides a large amount of information on this interesting area.
NOTE DI ANGELO DANESI
TRADUZIONE DI LUCIANA ZUGNI