"What is found in Sardinia cannot
be found In Italy, and what exists in Italy ts unknown in Sardinia".
These words were written at the end ot the 18th century by the Jesuit
priest Francesco Cetti in the first ot his three volumes dedicated
to the natural history ot Sardinia. In fact, this island is nothing
like Italy's other regions; for historical and paleographic reasons,
these extraordinary natural resources have survived throughout the
centuries and reached us in a near perfect state of conservation.
The coastal area consists in Mediterranean underbrush, a combination of plants and shrubbery and a few trees. The most common plants in this area are the mastic shrub, cistus, myrtle, marine lavender, the Heljchrysom stoechas, the miniature palm, rosemary, strawberry tree, lilacs, dyer's green weed, and heather. The most common trees on the coast are the juniper and various species of pine trees (the Aleppo, the domestic and the maritime pine). At one time bleak and barren, today the plains are covered with vineyards. Olive trees also dominate the surrounding scenery, their trunks often bent and gnarled by the winds.
The hilly regions in eastern Sardinia (especially in the Gallura region and the Nuoro area) are abounding in three principal types ot oak, the most widespread species found on the island: the holm oak, the common oak, and the cork oak (whose cork is the basis of economically important activities on the island). Moreover, Sardinia's mountainous areas do not include the typical species of trees found elsewhere at high altitudes; instead, in these areas one finds chestnut trees and small forest of yews.
Since numerous species of birds are rare and have often disappeared in many other regions in Europe, the great variety of fauna in Sardinia is extremely significant.
95.6% of the birds found on the island breed along the coastal areas. Thus, the great Royal eagle and even the Bonelli eagle are common sights in Sardinia. Thanks to a recent re-population project, the cliffs along the north-western coasts are home to the nests of the last griffon vultures in Italy.
Also widespread in the territory are the Peregrine hawk and its favorite prey, the wild pigeon. Among aquatic species, Sardinia has numerous colonies of Royal sea gulls and also the much rarer Corsican sea gull. Probably the most famous animal in Sardinia is the Monaca seal, once widespread along the coasts but today reduced to just a few specimens.
The animals which is the symbol of Sardinia is the moufflon, the progenitor of the domestic sheep: another notable mammal is the sardinian deer, a rare species whose remaining exemplars live in the forest in the province of CagIiari. Despite its being ruthlessly hunted, the Sardinian wild boar does not seem to be in danger ot extinction even though its habitat in the underbrush and forests has been considerably reduced in recent years. Other mammals specifically found on the island are the fox, the weasel, the wild cat, the marten, the dormouse, and the hare; however, the wild rabbit in Sardinia is identical to those found in the rest ot Europe.
The fish found aiong the Sardinian coasts are the same as those found all along the Mediterranean: groupers, iobsters, dentex, etc. Therefore, thìs immense environmental patrimony must be safeguarded. In fact, the entire island of Sardinia could be considered a gigantic marine and natural park where the crystalline beauty ot the coasts is juxtaposed with the wild, rough terrain of its inner regions. Therefore, it is greatly hoped that an entire network ot parks and natural reserves will be established to protect all of the extraordinary ecosystems still found on the island, on the coasts as well as in the great expanse of land in the inner regions. For example, a network of "important trails" crossing the mountains could draw numerous mountain enthusiasts, especially during the low tourist season when the bathing season is over. Visiting wild, rugged zones and admiring rare species of animals in protected parks are the real stakes at hand for Sardinian tourism in the future, which will no longer be confined to the coasts and the summer period but will continue throughout the year, thus giving the communities in the inner regions the possibility of development