Besides the roe deer, which is without a doubt the most representative animal of the Boschi di Carrega, among the most important ungulates there is the wild boar, which is a steady presence in the Park since ten years. The Park's theriofauna is well-diversified, thanks to the high degree of maturity and complexity of the forest environment. There are several species of micromammals, among which shrews, voles, wood mice and dormice; squirrels and hares are also widespread. Carnivorous animals, whose presence is demonstrated by the analysis of traces and excrements, are mainly foxes, badgers, stone martens, and weasels.
The composition of the ornithofauna is rather complex (about 70 species regularly present during the year) and it provides an almost complete review of the species which are typical of the environments extending from the plain to the middle Apennines.
The green woodpecker and the great spotted woodpecker can be sighted, together with several tits (great tit, blue tit, marsh tit) and other species, such as the tawny owl, the nuthatch, the short-toed treecreeper, the redstart, the jay, the turtle dove, the blackcap, the robin, the melodious warbler, the nightingale, and the whitethroat. In the areas of transition between the wood and the cultivated fields and in the clearings, if you are lucky, you might sight two predators, the sparrowhawk and the hobby, which mainly eat small birds. Moreover, you can easily observe the serin, the blackbird, the chaffinch, and the greenfinch. There are also many aquatic birds, such as the night heron, the little egret, the gray heron, and several species of ducks coming from the nearby Taro Regional Park or passing during the migration periods.
Amphibians and Reptiles
The Park is also rich in herpetofauna: among the amphibians, the most widespread species are the common toad, the European common frog, the agile frog, and the common tree frog; in small lakes and puddles there are several crested and smooth newts. Less frequent the green toad, a species typical of the plain, and the yellow-bellied toad, which usually lives in puddles and streams in clayey soils. There are also specimens of fire salamander. Among the reptiles, of considerable interest is the autochthonous presence of the European pond turtle living in the lakes and in the pools, while the Hermann's tortoise has been artificially introduced. The common wall lizard usually lives in the woods, while the Italian wall lizard and the much more evident green lizard prefer open and sunny places. In the clearings and at the edges of the wood you can sometimes see the blindworm, a snake-like Saurian. Among the Ophidia, the most frequent ones are the western whip snake, the aesculapian snake, and the grass snake; less frequent the dice snake, the asp viper, and two species of modest size belonging to the Coronella genre: the smooth snake and the southern smooth snake.
The chestnut groves
About half of the more than a thousand hectares of the Park are covered with woods which, above all in the marginal areas, alternate with sowable lands and permanent meadows, often bordered by wonderful hedges. Great part of the vegetation coverage consists of chestnut groves introduced in the first decades of the last century, when the chestnuts still were an important element of the human diet. Among the trees which frequently grow together these chestnut trees, there is the flowering ash tree, which is often accompanied by the intrusive locust tree. In the shrubby stratum there are mainly field alders, while the herbaceous stratum is dominated by tufts of bracken fern.
Beeches and transitory species
On the hills, the chestnut groves alternate with forests, partly autochthonous, partly of anthropic origin, like the pinewood of Monte Tinto. From a botanical point of view, the area lies between the plain belt and the oak woods on the hills, but the many watercourses carving more or less deeply the terraces on which the Park extends itself, have locally favored the setting up of particular climatic conditions influencing the vegetation. As a matter of fact, in the wet valleys there are the ideal conditions also for species which are typical of much higher altitudes than the local ones varying between the 120 and the 320m. A beautiful example is the Beechwood of Maria Amalia, a unique wood at low altitudes: the beech is a typical mountain species, covering the reliefs until the limits of the arboreal vegetation.
The oak and conifer woods
The rest of the vegetation mainly consists of often impenetrable woods of oaks and of formations where conifers grow together with broadleaved trees.
In the oak woods, the Turkey oak and the sessile oak dominate; the Downy oak prefers instead more sunny places and you can find it only in mixed oak woods, where no species dominates over the others. Sometimes the Scotch pine - which can be considered spontaneous - grows together with the oaks, and together with the exotic black pine, spruce and silver firs, introduced more than one century ago.
The Park's micoflora is particularly varied and abundant; recent researches have found out the presence of about 400 mushroom species (except the microscopic ones). The alternation of meadows, sowable lands, mixed woods of broadleaved trees and groups of conifers provides a considerable variety of habitats which are favorable to the development of different species. Late summer and autumn are the most suitable seasons for the growth of fruit-bearing species; however, already in spring the White Morel and the Common puffball grow. Clusters of inkcaps and of Hipholoma cover the stumps of oaks or other broadleaved trees, while on the chestnut trees there is the Beefsteak Fungus. The grassy lands house the well-known Parasol Mushroom and other species of the same group, together with the common meadow mushroom and several hygrophytes.
The hunting holding of the Farnese family
When at the half of the 16th century the Farnese family became the owner of the dukedoms of Parma and Piacenza, great part of the woods around Sala and Collecchio belonged to the noble Sanvitale family, the local feudal lords for about three centuries. In particular, the so-called "lands of Sala", set between the stream Baganza and the wide surrounding woods, were for centuries the target of the Farnese family, which was already entitled to hunt in the nearby woods. In 1612, Ranuccio I Farnese, after accusing them of conspiracy, put to death Gianfrancesco and Girolamo Sanvitale and Barbara Sanseverino, so that he could attach to his properties their residences in Sala and Colorno.
The Borbone family from Parma
In 1731, after the death of Antonio Farnese, the dukedom passed to the Borbone family. In the second half of the 18th century, Maria Amalia, daughter of Maria Teresa from Austria and wife of Ferdinando di Borbone, entrusted the architect Petitot to build the Casino dei Boschi on the hills surrounding Sala. The building would be a summer residence and a hunting lodge, and it was finished in 1789.
The period of Maria Luigia
The Napoleonic invasion marked the end of the government by the Borbone family and later the Vienna congress assigned the dukedom of Parma to Maria Luigia, Napoleon's wife and daughter of the Emperor Francesco I from Austria. In 1819 Maria Luigia bought from the heirs of Maria Amalia the Casino dei Boschi and the 60 hectare annexed estate. Between 1819 and 1826, the building was enlarged and renewed under the guide of Nicola Bettoli. By order of Maria Luigia, Carlo Barvitius, a gardener who had previously worked at the Habsburg court, began to carry out works of transformation of the inner road network, of the water system, and of forestation.
From the Carrega family to the Park
With the death of Maria Luigia, in 1847 the dukedom passed to Carlo III of the Borbone family from Lucca and, with the Union of Italy, the Savoia family became the owner of the estate of Sala and Collecchio, at that time extending itself for 585 ha (550 of which were included in the current Park's area); in 1865 the woods were declared "Royal Hunting Reserve of the former Dukedom". The prince Andrea Carrega, fond of botany and expert in sylviculture, prepared a collection with 555 specimens corresponding to the arboreal species present in the woods. At the death of Andrea Carrega, the children alienated great part of the properties, favoring the lotting of some areas and partially altering the consistency of the wood landscape. At the beginning of the 70s, a consortium for the acquisition of the woods and the creation of a public park was established among the local municipalities. The whole complex of the Boschi di Carrega was subsequently transformed into "public green area" by the municipality of Sala Baganza, creating the premises for the subsequent establishment of a regional park.
The terraces of Taro and Baganza
The hills which, in a unique succession of parallel ridges, separate the Taro from the Baganza near the plain, are linked to the Quaternary history of the two watercourses. The outcropping soils represent the river sediments organized in terraces which formed during the last three glacial periods (Mindel, Riss, and Würm, between 500,000 and 15,000 years ago). These ancient alluvial deposits, among which there are also the aeolian silts (the so-called loess) which are typical of the steppe extending in this area in the glacial period, are an evidence of the results of the great Quaternary climatic changes in the piedmont area and of the alternation of very different environmental situations.
The red soils
During the warm periods between the glaciations, the alluvial deposits deeply changed, subject as they were to intense pedogenesis phenomena which led to the creation of mainly clayey soils, with a red-yellow color due to the accumulation of iron oxide and hydroxide.
The gullies of Maiatico
The reliefs rising at the southern edges of the Park are made of clayey sediments coming from the sea, which deposited during the middle and upper Pliocene on rather deep bottoms. The famous gullies of the Costa near Maiatico witness how easily these rocks can be eroded: they can be seen in many points of the hills in Emilia outcropping with these typical morphologies.