What is striking about the extremely variegated landscape of the Riserva San Massimo is the beauty of its natural forest that evolves on an area of approximately 400 hectares. On grounds, rutted by ditches, tributaries and swamps, black alders, oak trees, poplars and willow trees grow close to the antique fluvial terrace of the Ticino river.
It is a hygrophilous forest, unique on an international scale for its ecological, faunistic and botanic characteristics, but also, more specifically, for the high structural diversity of its plant population and the complexity of the biological functions it conducts.
This great and imposing forestal ecosystem together with the surrounding fields shapes the agricultural enterprise Riserva San Massimo. The area was declared Site of Community Importance (SIC IT2080015) in 2004 and subsequently became Special Protection Area (ZPS).
The European Union chose to protect this site because of the uniqueness of the habitat it hosts. This decision perfectly matches with the reserve’s intentions to function as a protector of the biodiversity, which has been for years the very basis of every project, every intervention and every single activity pursued by the agricultural business that constantly dedicates time and research to improve the environmental context as a whole.
For more than 10 years, on a stretch longer than 80 km, different kinds of fruit trees with different seasonalities have been planted: apple, pear, prune, cherry and apricot trees. They grow in a completely natural way along the paths alongside the cultivated fields.
In this perfect natural circle the fruit is left on the trees, enriching the soil with natural nutritients and fostering thus the nutritive resources for the numerous savage animals of the Riserva and the migrating birds that pass the Padan Plain every year.
Recently the agricultural enterprise San Massimo has realised a project that involved planting 5.000 berry plants marginal to the rice fields, such as Rosa canina, Viburnum opulus, Prunus spinosa, Crataegus monogina, Rhamnus catharticus, Cornus sanguinea and Ligustrum vulgare. As always, this project corresponds to all the sustainability requirements of the agricultural communitary politics.
Due to its biodiversity the Riserva is the perfect ambience for the production of organic acacia and mixed-flower honey. The process is completely natural and the bees are not being exploited: the ivy honey is left in the beehive so that the bees subsist from it during the winter and only 70% of the acacia and the mixed-flower honey is extracted.
The agro-environmental objectives
The tangible objectives of an agri-environmental level that Riserva San Massimo is working on, are:
- maintaining the agricultural activities, both for their historic-cultural value and for the positive and objective effects that the low impact agricultural enterprise determines on an environmental level, not to mention the faunistic one.
- consolidating an silvicultural activity to preserve the precious biocenotic and forestal diversity. Especially by enhancing the high forest of Alnus glutinosa, alder stubs, transforming robinias into mesophilic forests and valorizing ecotonal areas for their way of enriching the ecological and faunistic diversity.
- increasing the decomposition of the natural organic material that transfers nutritive substances, such as mushrooms and microorganisms, into the soil. This is to foster a sane accretion of the plants, thus improving the toughness of the grain.