Location and Values: The Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve is located on the west coast of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. The world heritage site extends along a spectacular stretch of rocky coastline encompassing two magnificent bays (the Gulf of Porto and Gulf of Girolata) between the craggy Scandola peninsula and the rock towers of the Calanche of Piana further south. The coastline is famous for its jagged orange-red cliffs, craggy headlands, sheltered sand beaches, rock stacks, grottos, islets and coves. The world heritage site is part of the larger Corsica Regional Natural Park, and includes the small, strictly protected Scandola Reserve (19 km2). Two thirds of the designated area is terrestrial with the remainder providing protection to a species-rich marine zone.
From a geological perspective the site is part of a huge complex involving two cycles of volcanic activity associated with the Corsican mountains. The area’s volcanic lavas, pillars of basalt and granite beds have been subject to folding and subsequent cycles of rejuvenation and erosion. The vegetation represents an outstanding example of Mediterranean dry forest and maquis, with mixtures of cork and holm oaks alongside Corsican, stone and Aleppo pines. The biodiversity values of the site are exceptional, particularly in the crystal-clear waters of the marine environment where all 450 species of marine algae known from this part of the Mediterranean are present, together with extensive beds of Neptune grass and spectacular coralligenous concretions.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Gulf of Porto (incorporating the Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata and Scandola Reserve) is ‘good with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that, while the site is generally well maintained, its biodiversity values are threatened by heavy tourism pressure resulting in degradation of sea meadows, disturbance of birdlife and problems of waste management. Tourism pressures on the Scandola Nature Reserve are being eased through extension of the reserve and better distribution and flow of visitors. Other factors that may impact the site’s long-term protection include the risk of fire and the potential for mining exploration.
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description