Biodiversity in Montalcino: The commune of Montalcino comprises 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) of land. Of this, 3,500 hectares (8,650 acres) or 15% of Montalcino’s surface is vineyard, whilst around 50% is wild and given to forest (holm oak, chestnut), Mediterranean marshes, and native grassland. More of the commune is given to woodland (see immediately below) now than in the 1800s when 50% of Montalcino’s surface area was cultivated. The thickest woodland is found on Montalcino’s western side. Apart from holm and other species of oak, other types of trees include sweet chestnut and manna or flowering ash, arbutus or strawberry tree (‘corbezzolo‘), mastic tree or lentisc, and in lower areas bramble rose, broom, myrtle and juniper, and flora used to low levels of rainfall. Also found: Iris (‘giaggiolo’) or Iris x germanica, Prickly Pear (‘ficodindia’ or ‘ficio d’India) or Opuntia ficus-indica, wild or dog rose (‘rosa selvatica’, ‘rosa canina’) or Rosa canina (Magrini 2003, p.27).
Fauna: Hedgehogs, badgers, porcupines, beech martens, weasels, foxes, and grey wolves. Birds include owls, owlets, barn owls, tawny owls, and buzzards (looking for rabbits, hares, frogs, field mice, pheasant and partridge. Other birds include the harrier eagle, hen harrier, windhover, nuthatch, falcon, green woodpecker, imperial crow, wryneck, and sparrow. The thrush (‘tordo’) is emblematic of Montalcino, which celebrates a festival in its honour, but the bird has almost disappeared due to over hunting (exacerbated by the fact the thrush is a solitary bird). Starlings have suffered less, because they organise into flocks complete with a guard roster. Wild boar and roebuck are also prevalent despite being hunted.