The Belice River nature reserve was established by Decree by the region of Sicily in 1984 and its management was entrusted to the province of Trapani.
The Belice River nature reserve is a protected area and extends for 129 hectares making it one of Europe's largest nature reserves.
It is situated between the final stretch of the Belice river, between Marinella di Selinunte and Porto Palo cape for a length of about 4 km.
In it an important stopover and nesting area of many animal species, such as herons, ducks, gulls and the Caretta Caretta turtle makes its nests on the beaches. For this reason the Belice River nature reserve has been protected to preserve the typical Sicilian flora and fauna.
There are 3 habitats present in the Belice River nature reserve
- The coastline consisting of sand dunes that give the landscape a north African flavour;
- The area consisting of marsh plants, mainly seen at the mouth of the Belice River and in the immediate vicinity;
- The typical Mediterranean scrub of Sicily consisting of evergreen vegetation..
The most unique animals that are found in the Belice River nature reserve are undoubtedly the invertebrates, especially dune-dwelling insects. Some endemic Sicilian species of coleopterans from the beetle family found this area to be a good shelter.
Where it approaches the sea, the Belice river is home to vegetation dominated by the marsh cane, not to mention the thick bushes of water mint. Along the sandy area in front of the sea, there are some species of herbaceous plants such as sea rocket, the three-horned stock and the sea lily.
There are several ways to reach the Belice River nature reserve:
By plane: airport of Punta Raisi (Palermo), Birgi Airport (Trapani)
By train: rail link Palermo-Trapani stopping at Castelvetrano. From the Castelvetrano station, there is a bus arriving in Marinella di Selinunte. Until a few years ago the Castelvetrano-Sciacca railway line, was active but is now no longer in use.
Finally, for those who want to reach the Belice River nature reserve by car, take the A29 motorway, leave the motorway at the Castelvetrano exit and follow the SS 115 to Marinella di Selinunte, which is 1 km away.