The Etna Park
Etna Park was inaugurated in 1987 as per regional law in order to keep safe and promote Etna and its surrounding area. The Park is constituted of 59000 hectares, which go from 600 meters of altitude (above the level of sea) to 3340 meters. This area is divided into 4 zones, with decreasing protection level (A, B, C, D); the “A” area has been listed in 2013 as Unesco world heritage. Mount Etna appeared 600.000 years ago, its geological history is very old, made of continuous collapses and reconstructions of the volcano itself, together with an intense volcanic activity, which is the cause of the variety of landscapes.
Among mammals, there are: the fox, wild cat, weasel, ferret, marten, hedgehog, rabbit, and hare. Among the birds there are numerous species of passerines and raptors, including some pairs of golden eagle. Furthermore, there are different types of reptiles (lizards, snakes, turtles), the most dangerous is the viper. Moreover a lot of insects and arthropods populate the Mount like: butterflies, crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, bees, spiders, all of them extremely important to maintain the ecological balance. Vegetation in the Etna Park depends on: climate and altitude. At lower altitude it is possible to find: orchards, vineyards, hazels, chestnuts, pistachio. At higher altitude, it is possible to see: oaks, durmast, larch pines and over 2000 meters there is the beech and the birch, which is endemic. Among the colonizing species there is the broom (Genista Aetnensis, endemic plant). In the range of 2000 and 2500 meters, milkvetch, groundsel, violet and yellow goatsbeard are the only flora present in this area. Finally over 3000 meters, the volcanic desert.