The habitat of the petrifying springs (Cratoneurion) is one of the three habitats of priority interest for the conservation of the nature of the European Union present in the Park of Montevecchia and Valle of the Curone in Lombardy. This habitat is represented by streams with constant presence of running water, in which travertine formation phenomena take place . Travertines are porous rocks, formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate (limestone), of which the spring waters that acquire it during their stay in the subsoil are rich. Once they come to day, the waters tend to deposit part of the limestone on everything they come into contact with, thus covering the rocks, pebbles, leaves, pieces of wood, mosses with patinas gradually thicker. This phenomenon is facilitated by the presence of waterfalls and mosses which, with physical and biological mechanisms, accelerate the loss of carbon dioxide from the waters, and therefore the precipitation of limestone.
The habitat was given the name of a community of Muschi (Cratoneurion) particularly important for the travertinization phenomenon. In the most favorable conditions, larger and more articulated clusters are formed, such as the tray and cascade system, consisting of a retention tank (puddle), followed downstream by a growing waterfall, then by a muffler and a final accumulation. The phenomenon of travertine formation decreases as it moves away from the source consequently to the precipitation of the limestone, until it disappears completely after a few hundred meters.
Studies show that the constant presence of water, their temperature and quality are the most important factors in maintaining the balance of petrifying sources. The main dangers are therefore the modifications of the feeding basin for natural causes (landslides, landslides) or for the action of the man (jobs that involve the movement of the ground), the pollutions, the sudden increase of brightness in the woods in which streams flow due to excessive cuts or crashes. But obviously all the behaviors that could cause the direct alteration of the habitat, such as the transit of vehicles or people in the riverbed, are also to be avoided.

Some brook inhabitants
The streams that make up the habitat of the petrifying springs also represent the preferential environment for the freshwater crayfish , which here finds the oxygen-rich waters that are needed and numerous hiding places among the rocks. This species was much more widespread in the past in all watercourses and was also frequently fished for food purposes, but in recent decades it has been heavily hit by an epidemic, whose effects have been added to water pollution. < / span>
Another small animal very common in these environments is the salamander . This amphibian is more easily observed in conditions of high humidity.

Where to look at petrifying springs?
These habitats are found in the initial stretch of the streams with constant presence of water inside the woods throughout the area of ​​the hills present in the northern part of the Park, especially within the Valle Santa Croce-Alta Valle Nature Reserve of the Curone.

The places where observation can happen more easily , with greater satisfaction for the visitor and with greater safety for the environment, are :
• in the Santa Croce valley, at the springs of the Molgoretta, with two different situations of considerable interest;
• in Riunione, in Curone valley, at Casa del Soldato;
• along the road from Valfredda to Montevecchia alta;
• along the path that leads from Valfredda to Casa del Soldato.
Observation is however possible along many of the streams in the hill area.
Maximum respect for the environment is essential, refraining from any tampering! In particular, it is recommended not to walk away from the paths and never to walk in the stream bed.

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