Parks and wildlife sanctuaries
To protect nature threatened by man’s pressure, many reserves and wildlife sanctuaries have been established. In Italy, natural reserves amount to 20 (and another four will be established soon), regional reserves are over 130 and regional sanctuaries approximately 270. The Parco Nazionale del Gargano, established in 1995, occupies approximately 120,000 hectares of the province of Foggia. It protects an exceptional amount of different habitats: from tall, rocky coasts to the warm gorges of the southern side with rare and endemic species of plants and animals, to beechwoods full of centuries-old specimens, to Mediterranean Aleppo pine woods, also containing 500-year-old specimens.
From the point of view of the fauna, the promontory is exceptional for the presence, for instance, of roe deer (one of the very few native species living in the country) or some species of woodpeckers (red pied, barred, Lilford woodpeckers, the latter two very rare and concentrated, living in Italy only within some protected areas), which highlights the naturalistic significance of this area. The undergrowth of the Gargano forests, like the expanses of Mediterranean scrub, are extremely rich in flowers. As to wild orchids, of which the Gargano is the richest place in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, there are as many as 56 species and 5 subspecies.