The coast of the Gulf of Porto is one of Corsica’s most famous landscapes, and rightly so – with its dramatic sculpted red rock and sweeping bays it has to be seen to be believed.
The nature reserve, which is part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica, occupies the Scandola peninsula, an impressive, porphyritic rock mass. The vegetation is an outstanding example of scrubland. Seagulls, cormorants and sea eagles can be found there. The clear waters, with their islets and inaccessible caves, host a rich marine life.
The site lies on the central western coast of the island of Corsica. The natural reserve, which is part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica, occupies the Scandola peninsula, an impressive, porphyritic rock mass. The site includes a coastline of astonishing beauty studded with offshore islets and sea pillars rising out of translucent waters. On the shore itself there are hidden coves and long beeches of fine sand, sea grottos and high cliffs of blood-red porphyry. The vegetation is an outstanding example of scrubland. Seagulls, cormorants and sea eagles can be found there. The clear waters, with their islets and inaccessible caves, host a rich marine life.
The reserve is divided into two sectors: the Elpa Nera inlet (between Pointe Bianca and Pointe Validori) and the Scandola peninsula. This area, which includes the massif of Cinto and the valley of Fango, is part of a large geological complex that appears to have undergone two distinct cycles of volcanic activity in the Permian. Since then, the area has been subject to alternating cycles of erosion and rejuvenation. Geologically comprises porphyry, rhyoliths and basaltic pillars, which have all been considerably eroded by wave action. The jagged and sheer cliffs contain many grottos and are flanked by numerous stacks and almost inaccessible islets and coves, such as Tuara. The coastline is also noted for its red cliffs, some 900 m high, sand beaches, and headlands such as Cape Osani and the peninsula of Elbo.
On the more gentle slopes, typical Mediterranean maquis vegetation occurs. This is replaced by arborescent plants at an altitude of 200 m and oaks succeed this in certain areas. All species of marine algae for this part of the Mediterranean are found within the littoral zone, including a number of species, such as red algae, which are not recorded anywhere else in France. Because of the highly transparent nature of the waters the sublittoral algae is found over quite a large area. Scandola Nature Reserve contains a rich sedentary and migrant fauna including the peregrine falcon, osprey and Eleonora falcon, with Cory’s shearwater and Audouin’s gull occurring in the littoral zone.
The marine environment contains considerable numbers of spiny lobster and a wide range of littoral and sublittoral invertebrates and fish.
This area conserves traditional agriculture and grazing activities, and contains complete systems of architecturally interesting fortifications, which are important elements of Corsican culture. There are also some Roman sites.
Scandola Nature Reserve established under decree of 9 December 1975. Parc naturel regional de Corse established under decree of 12 May 1972. Since a law of 2 May 1930, updated by decree of 14 December 1976, no destruction or modification can be carried out in the area without authorisation from the Minister of the Environment. Girolata and Porto were classified as nature reserves in 1975 and 1976. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1983 and Scandola Nature Reserve was awarded the European Diploma in 1986.