Lampedusa is an island which belongs to the Pelagie Islands, Sicily. It is the largest of the Pelagie archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea and is part of the province of Agrigento. Administratively Linosa form together with the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa (which is the municipal office), which counts a total of 6,304 inhabitants. It is the fifth largest of the Sicilian islands, with an area of ​​20.2 km².

Etymology –
The etymology of the name “Lampedusa” has several schools of thought. Authors who visited it in XVIIII century and who described various assumptions made, more or less well-founded. Some of them attributed the name of Lampedusa to the flashing of the incredible “flashes” they observed.
The fact that the name is taken, mangled and modified depending of the century and the prevailing language of the era. Scylax, geographer, cartographer and navigator Greek, however, was the first to call λαμπάς, in a famous circumnavigation of the Mediterranean dated between the fourth and third centuries a.c., perhaps copied for its African side, by another author, Hanno the Carthaginian navigator. Some authors have attributed this name, used by Scylax to lamps, others by a rocky greek word, others by the end of the rock, the other name of an abundant fish in these waters λεπάδες, but the etymology is most likely, it is about another recent author in order of time, Stefano Sommier, that derives from the greek name of limpets or oysters, λεπάς -άδος here are / were plentiful. It seems to have been a Greek coin found in Lampedusa, with a double effigy, Jupiter on one side and on the other the representation of a fish and a written ΛΟΠΑΔΟΥΣΣΑΙΩΝ. What is definitely ascertained is that the name Lampedusa derives from the Greek language and it has many ancient origins. However, as certain documents, in antiquity his name was Lopadusa (Λοπαδοῦσσα in greek).
Geographical Features –
The island has an elongated shape and extent from O to E, 10.8 kilometers, while at its widest point, from N to S, measuring 3.6 kilometers, by one perimetric extension of 33.3 km. Geologically is a Horst and belongs to Africa; as Pantelleria is closer to the Tunisian coast, distando from these 113 km (150 km from Malta), than to the Sicilian ones, which separate it 205 km; the maximum depth of the arm of the sea between Lampedusa and Africa is 120 m. The highest point of the island is Tree Sun, at 133 m above sea level. Lampedusa is also the southernmost town of Italy: it is located at latitude 35 ° 30 ‘N, to the south of Tunis and Algiers.
Lampedusa and Lampione are part of the African continental plate, and they raised two million years ago, while Linosa is of volcanic origin.
The Lampedusa geological origin dates back to the Tortonian, the Tertiary period at the end of the Miocene. This was an era of recovery and explosion of life. The paper (official) of Lampedusa geological was written by Mario Grasso and H. Martyn Pedley (1988). The island is a Horst and consists of limestones of the platform and the bottom of the sea (coral reef Tortonian of Mob layers Pisana). The type of Lampedusa soil is mainly characterized by the presence of two types of rock: limestone (calcium carbonate) and dolomite (calcium and magnesium carbonate). However, the chalky soil is uneven: in some places looks crumbly, in other compact and mixed with silica rock (calscisto) so as to require the use of explosives for the excavation. There are significant layers of sandstone hardness lower than that of lime stone, exposed to atmospheric agents, it becomes porous and easy to flaking.

Historical notes –
Considering that ė island was certainly inhabited by the Phoenicians, and before that from other populations, it is clear that Lampedusa has a history that is lost in the mists of time, mostly forgotten and distorted over the centuries by men who inhabited the year and it told.
In Lampedusa time has in fact been a resting place for Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs who even had a permanent colony on the island, with a governor. The Romans exploited Lampedusa instead to plant a factory for fish processing and for the production of garum, a popular fish sauce in imperial times. But they were the Arabs to leave more footprints on this island because they used it as a landing during their pirate raids, long after the official expulsion from Sicily.
Then, for a long time, the island remained quiet waiting for new inhabitants. In 1630 Giulio Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa and Linosa, an ancestor of the author of “The Leopard”, was awarded by the King of Spain of this noble title. In 1760 it was colonized by six French followed, after sixteen years, by a Maltese family. Later it was a succession of small groups of farmers now led by Maltese now by English. The Russians, with Prince Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin tried to buy the island insediarvi a colony of subjects of the Empress. A century later, the Tomasi family asked the Bourbons adequate funding to carry on the islands of the works needed restocking. In 800 the Tomasi gave the Pelagie to Ferdinand II of Bourbon. The king did not make a rash purchase and succeeded in making the archipelago insediandovi about 150 inhabitants of Pantelleria active and productive who used even the dammusi, typical buildings of their island Lampedusa. In 1861, the islanders became servants of the Kingdom of Italy who established there in 1872 a penal colony, then suppressed in the next century.

Ecosystem –
Lampedusa is the largest island of the Pelagie, has a total area of ​​20 square kilometers and a coastline of 40 km.
This island, closer to Africa than to Europe, in fact it is part of the African continental shelf, and the flora and fauna are part of the original of this continent and its Maghreb region.
Geologically, Lampedusa, is made up of calcium deposits that date back to the Middle-Upper Miocene and on this site, in order to protect the natural environment, particularly man-made in the last century.
The territory of the reserve includes 12.12 hectares of the island of Lampedusa and it is also part of the Isle of Rabbits. A time covered by a dense and diverse Mediterranean, the island has undergone during the colonization Bourbon the almost total destruction of the original vegetation, to make the arable soil and assign it to the settlers. This resulted in a progressive impoverishment of the soil, compounded by erosion of the weather and aggravated by drought among others that I characterize the island of Lamedusa in the 90s of last century. Despite this, the island retains an extraordinary floristic richness, with species absent in the rest of the Italian territory as the flower of the tiger (Caralluma europaea), a succulent plant of North African origin, with inflorescence Starry, present in Europe only in the island and in Spain Southern, or as the acaulescent cornflower (Centaurea acaulis), a species endemic to North Africa. Other endemic species on the island are wild carrot (Daucus lopadusanus), wild chamomile (Anthemis lopadusana), the lampedusano sea lavender (Limonium lopadusanum) and also Suaeda pelagic and Scilla dimartinoi. Today’s landscape of the reserve is dominated by scrubland, with euphorbia, mastic, capocchiuto thyme, germander and Sicilian tea which often gives way to the Mediterranean steppe environments, where we find daffodils, the endemic Allium lopadusanum, various Asteraceae (thorny Pallenis, Carlina Sicilian, etc.) and the sea squill (drimia maritima); coastal environments prevail instead Euphorbia pinea, Thymelaea shaggy, sediforme sedum, Sedum dasyphyllum, Capparis spinosa and Atriplex halimus. The ancient Mediterranean survives only in some valleys in the innermost parts of the Reserve, dominated dall’euforbia arborescent (Euphorbia Dendroides), with juniper sparse settlements, carob and some olive. There is then an afforestation area where the Forestry Corps of the Sicilian Region, has carried out a reforestation for the reintroduction of the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis). The fauna presents numerous similarities with that present in the neighboring North African regions. The mammals include the house mouse, the black rat and shrew; relevant also the presence of two species of bats: the Miniottero (Miniopterus schreibersi) and the greater vespertilio (Myotis myotis). Of particular note, the quota herpetological with numerous species of North African origin. The most common species of reptiles are the gecko (tarentola mauritanica) and the gongilo (Chalcides ocellatus); of particular interest is the striped lizard (Psammodromus algirus), an exclusive lizard islet of rabbits, the only Italian station this chestnut; the adder from the hood (Macroprotodon cucullatus), present in Italy only in Lampedusa, and the Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus). Of particular importance is the presence of the sea turtle Caretta caretta, which breeds regularly on the beach on the island of Rabbits. The only amphibian present is finally the toad (Bufo siculus). Noteworthy is also the island’s bird life that sees present nesting species such as herring gulls, which nest on the island of Rabbits with a population of about one hundred pairs, kestrel, Eleonora’s falcon, peregrine falcon, the shag , the berta maggiore and shearwater; many migratory species that stop in Lampedusa during their migration to Africa, including the turtle dove, the pied flycatcher, the meadow pipit, the warbler, the bee-eater, European Roller, the moorhen, the night heron and many other. Among the insects there are species that bear witness to the similarities between Lampedusa and the fauna of North Africa, including the endemic Pamphagus ortolaniae, a large grasshopper devoid of wings, and julodis onopordi lampedusanus, a beetle from the iridescent plumage. There are, moreover, the species for which Lampedusa constitutes the only known Italian station, including Odontura borrei, a orthopterous present, as well as in Lampedusa, Tunisia and Algeria, and numerous beetles, including Coccinella algerica, Campalita algerica and Exochomus nigripennis. It is stressed that the beach of Rabbits is one of the few sites in the Mediterranean where sea turtles Caretta caretta, studied for the first time in 1985 by Dieter Gramentz, lay eggs. The flora and fauna are similar to those north-African. The Lampedusa landscape includes three environments:
• steppe: cover the flat part of the island.
• the prairie: the Walloons more distant from the town.
• garrigue: in some valleys and coves of the northern side.
Among the animals they have memories of deer, probably introduced by Tomasi principles, but already extinct in the late 1800s, even the goats brought on the island by the same principles were destroyed by Sanvisente around 1847 because it went damage to several grafts of olive trees. No trace remains of other mammals in the same years it seems that populate Lampedusa as the wild boar, the domestic ox and the donkey. There are only four, however, the wild species of this class found recently: wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), shrew (Suncus etruscus) bat Kuhl (Kuhl’s pipistrelle) and house mouse (Mus musculus). In the sea surrounding the island are three species of dolphin regularly: bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). A distant memory is instead the monk seal (Mediterranean monk seal), while they are still readily observable, in the period between March and April, some large mammals such as the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). The real lookout island winged, present, however, only from April to September, is the Queen’s hawk (Eleonora’s Falcon). Other species include nesting shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), kestrel, hawk, wild pigeon, the lark, the goldfinch and linnet, the shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis). Some sporadic nesting there has also been part of beccamoschino and the corn bunting. It must also be mentioned the large colony of herring gull (Larus argentatus) that in April lays on the island of Rabbits. Among the reptiles, all of great interest, it should be mentioned the regular presence of reproductive stage of the common sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Situated on the ground there is another member of the order Chelonia, the tortoise (Testudo hermanni). The dei Sauri group is represented by four species. Two common across Lampedusa and are the warty gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) and the common gecko (Tarentola mauritanica). The other is the common lizard striata (Psammodromus algirus) that is present only on the Island of Rabbits and could not be found (scientifically absent) on the island of Lampedusa. Only two species of snakes have been found in Lampedusa, both of North African origin: the snake from the hood (Macroprotodon cucullatus) and the Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). In 1995 it was established the oriented nature reserve Lampedusa Island, a nature reserve established by the Sicilian Region, which was located on the largest of the Pelagie Islands (Lampedusa, the largest island of the Pelagie, having a total area of ​​20 square kilometers and a coastline of 40 km) in a special protection area (SPA) and of Community importance (SCI), between the Valley Water to the west and Cala Greca to the east, and also includes the Isle of Rabbits.
The reserve is divided into three different zones of the protection scheme for a total of ca. 40.9 km2 protected including:
• Integral protection zones, zone A (EUAP0553 # A1, A2, A3) – ca. 0.8 km2 – including the island of Lampedusa sea area in front of the coast north of Cape Grecale; the stretch of sea off the coast of the island of Lampedusa and surrounding the Isle of Rabbits; the stretch of sea to the north of the island of Linosa front of the Tramontana rocks. Prohibited Activities: swimming, scuba diving, commercial fishing, sport and underwater.
• general protection zones, zone B (EUAP0553 # B1, # B2, # B3) – ca. 14.3 km2 – including the stretch of sea off the north east coast of Lampedusa Island, between Punta Chapel and Cala Calandra; the surrounding sea area zone A around the Isle of Rabbits; the stretch of sea off the northern coast of the Island of Linosa, between Punta Balata Flat and Punta Beppe.
• partial protection zones, zone C (EUAP0553 # C1, # C2, # C3, # C4, C5 #) – ca. 25.8 km2 – the residual part of the sea within the marine protected area. Activities governed by the management: anchoring and mooring, motor navigation, fisheries and tourism, sport and commercial fishing.
Also in Lampedusa it was established the Site of Community Importance, SIC, ITA040014 – “Depths of the Pelagie Islands” proposed in 2011 by the Sicilian Region (Department of Tourism and Environment), classified in the same year and recently updated (2013) to protection of fishing grounds of ‘island (for a superficial extension of approximately 40.9 km2 whose limits were standardized to those of the AMP). Managed by the City of Lampedusa and Linosa, the Harbor competent agency manager Marine Protected Area Pelagie Islands. Given the importance of migratory fauna has been established, also the Special Protection Area, SPA, ITA040013 “Pelagie archipelago of” marine and terrestrial protected area managed from the sea “Pelagie Islands” Established by D. M. October 21, 2002, interim manager of Lampedusa Town Board and Town of Linosa Sicily Region (Department of Tourism and Environment; Management Plan decree n. 861 of 15/11/10) proposed in 2005, classified in the same year and recently updated in 2013 protection of the entire Island (the protected marine environment extends to an area of ​​110.7 km2 and represents 86% of the total surface protected by SPAs). It is also headquarters of the Marine Protected Pelagie Islands EUAP0553, established in 2002, which covers ca. 46 279 meters of the coast of the islands of Lampedusa (from Punta Galera, to the west, to the tip north of Cala Pisana, including Cape West and Cape Grecale), Linosa (from the tip to the south of Cala pozzolana, north to the Punta Calcarella , comprising Punta Balata Piatta and Punta Beppe Tucci) and lamppost. The town of Lampedusa and Linosa are the institutions of this young AMP.

Shares of Environmental Protection –
The presence of the Reserve and by the SIC and ZPS areas, makes us understand what the strategic importance of this island towards the dynamics of flora and fauna of the Mediterranean area.I personally drafted in past years the Study Agricultural Forestry of the City of Lampedusa and Linosa and since that study had shown a fragile ecology of the whole island from the point of view of flora and fauna. Surely the presence of immigrants (with all humanitarian and military contingents involved) and tourists in the summer put a strain on the already delicate ecological structure of Lampedusa Island. Lampedusa, Linosa such, plays a strategic role as a staging area for thousands of migratory birds during the crossing of the Mediterranean. The recovery of energy from these birds is possible only if the island remains the presence of semi-natural environments and diverse and species-rich. It is therefore appropriate for the adoption of a real “Regulator Ecological” plan that links protected areas, agricultural areas and marine areas with osmosis processes and protection of reciprocal balances and dynamics. As Linosa, Lampedusa lends itself very well to promote research activities for the promotion of agricultural models totally guarantors ecosystem and habitats that are home to species of flora and fauna of great value. It would be a laboratory that promotes a new agricultural model where small business within the cells are returned to all those crops and / or techniques now almost forgotten or otherwise marginalized.

Guido Bissanti

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *