Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve, Bonifacio, France
GPS: 41.415690698169, 9.1730438939494
Located at the southern end of Corsica, the Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve extends as far as Sardinia, covering an area of 800 km². On the land side, it stretches along the entire coastline between the Roccapina cove (at the town of Monaccia d’Aullène) and the town of Porto-Vecchio. With a strong marine component, this large biodiversity zone was founded in 1999 to protect the natural resources of the Bonifacio Strait. This strait is popular with yachtsmen as it represents the only passage in the Mediterranean Sea linking the Sea of Sardinia in the west to the Tyrrhenian Sea in the east. The Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve is the largest protected natural area in mainland France.
The creation of the reserve has a double objective: to protect it from the growing maritime traffic and to cope with the increasing number of tourists. Spread over five communes on the southern coast of Corsica (Bonifacio, Figari, Porto-Vecchio, Monacia-d’Aullène and Pianottoli-Caldarello), the Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve is home to more than a third of the remarkable species of the Mediterranean, including many endemic species that are limited to a few islets. Together with the Iles Cerbicale Nature Reserve and the Tre Padule De Suartone Nature Reserve, located on the edge of the Bonifacio Strait, it is directly managed by the Corsican Environment Office. The southern part of the archipelago has a very ancient human occupation dating back to prehistoric times. During antiquity, this region was occupied by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks and then the Romans. Because of its strategic location, it was the object of numerous military sieges for the control of maritime traffic. It was the Genoese who developed the region from the 12th century onwards and built the first fortifications with the citadels of Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio. Like the rest of Corsica, this territory was ceded to France in 1768 and opened to tourism from the middle of the 20th century.
After merging in 2012 with the Italian national park of the La Maddalena Archipelago, the reserve is now in the French sector of the new Bonifacio International Marine Park, established between Corsica and Sardinia. With its scenically beautiful landscapes, it also offers underwater scenery for observing a wide variety of fauna and flora. The idyllic beaches, steep cliffs and wild coves of the Bonifacio Nature Reserve provide a habitat for many birds. Each year, these natural environments attract more and more visitors and yachtsmen who are captivated by the splendour of the Corsican coastline.