The Cork forest of Niscemi
Along the way between Piazza Armerina and Gela, you can expect, on their own schedule, a stop at the Natural Reserve Sughereta (cork forest) of Niscemi, located at north-east, in the same area range, compared to Biviere Lake. The sense of the protected area is contained within the following sentence, taken from the decree of establishment of the reserve: “the woods of Niscemi represent the most important relic of cork mixed with ilex existing in Central Sicily“. In fact, the forested area takes its name from the presence of cork, an evergreen oak, which can reach a height of between 5 and 15 meters. The Sughereta Niscemi welcomes you in its natural heritage with majestic oaks with a trunk diameter of about five meters. Niscemi, a town founded in the early XVIIth century, was able to take advantage of this unique green area, thanks to the production of cork, made from the bark of the thick and wrinkled trees, which became a primary economic resource.
At one time the Sughereta (cork forest) Niscemi was a part, together with Bosco of San Pietro of Caltagirone, a vast “green lung” reduced, over the centuries, from the intrusive presence of man. In particular, the dense forest and flourishing of the territory of Niscemi was exposed to intense deforestation during the 1600s, when the noble family of the Branciforte, to which we owe the foundation of Niscemi, got to populate the feud. On that occasion, the agricultural crops were replaced at the expense of the forest, which lost much of the original extension. In 1800, decommissioned the large land system, the natural heritage of Niscemi suffered further damage as a result of arson caused by the discontent of some peasants, who were deprived of the opportunity to obtain plots of land.
With incisive protection operations, the institutions were able to preserve what remained of the ancient forest until 2007, when it was inaugurated the Reserve.