Cilento and Vallo Di Diano

This biosphere reserve is located in south-central Italy, bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is characterized by low dolomite mountains with typical karst features such as sinkholes and caves. The coastline is made up of cliffs, bays and sandy beaches, with sea caves and freshwater springs. The Mediterranean sclerophyll vegetation is divided into many habitats according to altitude, ranging from dry coastal garrigue, to Holm oak woodlands, mixed forests of oak, hornbeam, and alder, natural stands of European beech, to high-altitude grasslands. The fauna is noted for its birds, notably birds of prey.

The cultural heritage is particularly rich, with traces of human occupation going back to Palaeolithic times, with archaeological and historic vestiges of a succession of civilisations. Some 300,000 people live permanently in this biosphere reserve (1999), mainly in the transition area. A particular effort is made to create employment opportunities in inland rural areas by stimulating local enterprises, restoring the rural patrimony, re-activating agriculture, forestry and fishing and promoting ecotourism. Olive oil production in Cilento has a long tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages when Benedict monks planted olive groves. In the last years, the region suffered from the import of cheap olive oils and emigration of people. To address these problems, a local olive oil cooperative has introduced organic farming techniques, selling the oil with its own label of quality. A research center has been established for studying birds of prey and the migration of birds between Africa and Europe. Read more about this reserve on the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves website.

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