Ofanto, the Natural Park

That of the Regional Natural Park of the Ofanto River is a unique ecosystem in the ‘sitibonda’ (Horace) Puglia. Thanks to the presence of water, coming from the nearby regions of Basilicata and Campania, its territory is a treasure trove of animal and plant biodiversity full of natural areas that are home to rare species such as the otter, which is the symbol of the Park.



From the point of view of vegetation, in the first part of its course the river crosses a territory in which the dominant species of the sub-Mediterranean plant landscape prevail, consisting mainly of deciduous broad-leaved trees, in which there is a prevalence of oaks (downy oak, turkey oak, holm oak) , willows, ash and alder, to the Mediterranean one with a prevalence of sclerophile broad-leaved trees.

In the lower stretch of its course, in the Apulian territory, the river slows down and the increasingly sparse woods give way to riparian vegetation, very close to the river bed, where you can find white poplars (Populus alba ), black poplars, willows and elms as well as thick reeds and marsh plant settlements that occupy the river bank. Among them are included: Calla, Cattail, Mint aquatic, Esedra, Horsetail, Dog’s tongue, Canine tooth, Bramble, Papyrus, Rosehip, Licorice. The coastal vegetation near the mouth deserves a separate mention, where the salinity of the water and the stagnation of the water have allowed the settlement of Mediterranean salty steppes.


Despite the significant alterations of the watercourse, the Ofanto hosts the only viable population in Puglia of one of the most threatened mammals at national level, the Otter (Lutra lutra). The population present along the river course has the main nucleus of presence in the fluvial stretch of Basilicata which acts a ‘source’ in relation to the Apulian part.

Among the aquatic fauna, one of the most important elements is the Apennine Bleak or Southern Bleak (Alburnus albidus), it is a considered endemic species, as a degree of risk.

Among the reptiles and amphibians Elaphe quatuorlineata, Emys orbicularis, Hyla Mediterranea. Not negligible are the varieties of fish, reptiles and amphibians that populate this delicate habitat: the population of carp, crucian carp, chub, eels, frogs and snakes is noteworthy.

The Spinazzola valleys are the refuge of the only population of southern spectacled Salamandrina (Salamandrina Terdigitata) in Puglia, in addition to the Dauni Mountains. It is a small endemic amphibian characteristic of Southern Italy.

As for the avifauna, there are Lanner (Falco biarmicus), Lodolaio (Falco subbuteo), Small Corriere (Charadrius dubius), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Quail (Coturnix coturnix), various species of Woodpeckers, Picus viridis, Dendrocopos major, D. minor. The presence of the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) is also very important, with individus coming from the nesting population in the upstream stretch of the river, a presence that could prelude to a future nesting in Apulia.

Park Rules