The Governing Council of the UNESCO National Commission has determined that the National Park of Sila is a World Heritage Site for “natural criteria.”
This recognition comes after just over three years of the important protected area remaining on the national “Tentative List,” a list recognized by the prestigious organization of the United Nations in which the sites of particular valour are included and become candidates for subsequent inclusion in the prestigious and exclusive “World Heritage List” of UNESCO. A goal in addition to that achieved back in June 2014 when the park was officially adorned the title “Tenth Reserve of Italian Biosphere“, gaining recognition MaB (Man and Biosphere) of UNESCO.
“We are embracing this great news confirming the extraordinary value of the natural resources and landscapes of Sila being formally recognized now, remarks the special commissioner of the Park, Sonia Ferrari. This nomination is an important time in the promotion and revitalization of the park that we have undertaken for some time through networking with institutions and stakeholders of the territory which is beginning to produce results in terms of notoriety, image and tourist traffic within the Park.”
The protected area of the Sila National Park covers about 74,000 hectares, mostly mountainous territory 80% covered by forests, woodlands and meadows with extraordinary biodiversity. The park is divided into three main areas – the Sila Grande, Sila Piccola and the Sila Greca – and includes as many as 21 municipalities, spanning 3 different provinces (Cosenza, Catanzaro and Crotone).
There are nine biogenetic nature reserves and, of these, two are noteworthy: “The Giants of Sila” (which houses 53 colossal larch pine trees more than 500 years in age and 5 maple trees of similar age) and the Reserve “Golia-Corvo,” an area dedicated to the raising and diffusion of deer. Part of the typical fauna of the Park: the Apennine wolf (a symbol of the Park), roe deer, (a recently introduced deer); wild boar, hare, fox, wild cat, the black squirrel a characteristic of the Sila, the eagle owl , buzzards and woodpeckers.
The Park is the ideal place to relax, trail ride on horseback, ride mountain bikes, trek along walking routes, and partake in nature photography. During the wonderful whitewashed winters you can devote yourself to snow sports; traverse the plateau of by dog sledding or go canoeing on the beautiful lakes. Many other sports are available: snowshoeing, hiking, sailing, rafting, canyoning, archery, bird and animal watching and horseback riding.
Not lacking are specialized areas in environmental education, real “Green Museums” places in ample natural settings. First one should consider visiting the Visitors Center of Cupone, located in the Great Sila, in the province of Cosenza. An environmental education center with nature trails, bird watching, museum, geological garden and a botanical garden accessible to the blind with explanatory panels and mp3 audio recordings of various types. Then there is the Visitor Center “Antonio Garcea,” located in Sila Piccola, a few kilometers from Villaggio Mancuso, in the province of Catanzaro, which is the focus of promotion, information and hospitality for visitors to Sila. There are also different museums open to the public: the Museum of (olive) Oil and Rural Life (Zagarise, CZ); the Crafts Museum of Textiles and the Land Defence (Longobucco, CS); the Museum of Agro – Silvo – Pastoral and of Traditions (Albi, CZ); The Water and Power Museum (Cotronei, Kr); the Biodiversity Museum, at the Visitor Center of Cupone. To these must be added the Thematic Museums, Interactive Multimedia, “Forests of Sila” and “Forests and Man” at the Visitors Center “Antonio Garcea” (CZ).
For 2016, the protected area of the Sila, along with other sites and places of Calabria, as the Riviera of the Cedars, is one of the destinations recommended the Rough Guides.