Miramare Biosphere Reserve is situated about 7 km from the city of Trieste in Italy, on the Gulf of Trieste, close to the Slovenian border. It takes the form of a rocky promontory of karst with coastal cliffs and beaches. Marine habitats of special interest from a conservation perspective include the tidal zone, which harbours many endemic species such as the brown alga Fucus virsoides, and undisturbed cliffs with a diverse benthic fauna.

This small biosphere reserve is not inhabited, however many tourists enjoy underwater tours or visit the castle and garden of the Habsburg family. Both commercial and amateur fishing as well as other recreational activities take place in the marine habitat.

Designation date: 1979
Administrative authorities:   WWF Italy – WWF OASIS society in its capacity as Managing Body of the Miramare Marine Protected Area, Ministry of Environment.
Surface area (terrestrial and marine):   3,060 ha
Core area(s):   30 ha (marine)
Buffer area(s):   125 ha (marine: 90 ha; terrestrial: 35 ha)
Transition area(s):   2,905 ha (marine: 1,464 ha; terrestrial: 1,441 ha)

Longitude:   13°42’44”E
Midpoint:   45°42’4”N – 13°42’44”E


Ecological Characteristics

The Miramare Biosphere Reserve is located in the coastal area of the Province of Trieste. It includes a portion of the coast of Trieste situated between Miramare promontory and Sistiana Bay, and the surrounding marine area. The reserve is about 11 km in length, 1 km to 1.5 km wide landwards and about 1.85 km seawards. The landward landscape encompasses the Trieste Karst plateau, which slopes towards the sea, with traditional terraces shaped by drywalls and farmed with olive trees and vineyards.

Karstic woodlands, together with grasslands and dry grasslands, ensure high biodiversity values. On the southern slopes, black pines grow in association with typical elements of the karstic woodland.

The marine biotope is characterized by Zostera marina and Cymodocea nodosa meadows with endemic species such as Fucus virsoides. The calcareous rocks at the edge of Miramare host a European shag colony (Phalacrocorax aristotelis). Other species inhabiting the reserve include the yellow shore crab (Eriphia spinifrons), European lobster (Homarus gammarus), European sea bass (Dicentrachus labrax) and the short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus).

The aim of the biosphere reserve is to maintain biological diversity in the marine environment surrounding Trieste, through scientific research and monitoring activities. Environmental education designed for students and the public is also a major activity in the area.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

The Miramare Biosphere Reserve is situated about 10 km from Trieste and about 20 km from Monfalcone, two important urban and industrial sites. The reserve includes the small karstic villages of Prosecco, Contovello and Santa Croce, and the neighbourhood of Barcola, close to Trieste, where a significant proportion of local residents are of Slovenian ethnic, cultural and linguistic origin. Opportunities offered by the town of Trieste have attracted extensive residential growth in the surrounding areas.

Fishing as well as boat transit and access are forbidden, and only the Managing Body and its operators are allowed to carry out certain management activities. About 2 ha are devoted to underwater education activities.

The reserve is also home to the Castle of Miramare and its park, built by order of the archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg in 1856, and now a cultural attraction.

One of the challenges facing the biosphere reserve is to involve all stakeholders, such as traditional fishermen and the local community, tourism industry, non-governmental organizations, universities and municipalities, in the management of the reserve.


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