The Parma Morta Nature Reserve, established in 1990, is a precious testimony of the ancient fluvial dynamics of the Po valley. The protected area, located entirely in the Municipality of Sorbolo Mezzani, between the mouths of the Parma and Enza streams, extends for 66 ha and protects an almost 5 km long stretch of the ancient riverbed in which, until the mid-nineteenth century, the waters of the Parma stream flowed before flowing into the Enza.
In 1870 the deviation of the Parma stream led this stream to flow directly into the Po, leaving the last stretch of the stream excluded from the direct flow of water, thus giving rise to the Parma Morta. The abandoned river branch is today an important wetland for hosting plants and animals that no longer find space in the surrounding environment: amphibians, reptiles, birds frequent the stagnant waters, covered by duckweed and aquatic four-leaf clover, extinct species on almost everything the provincial territory and recently reintroduced here. Along the banks grow sedges and other helophytic species, while around you can see shrubs of buckthorn and limited strips of plain wood with English oak, elm and field maple.
Of great interest is the heronry, the “condominium” of the herons, located on large poplars grown in the basin dedicated to phytodepuration: herons, squacco herons, night herons nest in numerous. As part of a European project, for some years stable polyphite meadows have been recreated, rich in plant biodiversity and increasingly rare habitats on a plain level.
Starting from the end of 2021, the new Mezzani aquarium will be open, now under construction, which will offer a look at the fish fauna of the Po, the true ecological key of the area.