Cultivated fields, woods, meadows and waterways have always characterised the landscape of Zibido San Giacomo. The presence of water springs has been the engine of agricultural development. Already in the Middle Ages, the creation of a dense network of canals and irrigation ditches that still exists today allowed the development of numerous crops. The water meadows, or irrigated meadows, have guaranteed for centuries abundant fresh grass crops during the whole year necessary for feeding the cattle. Today in disuse, they still have a considerable historical and landscape value and are protected for their important role in maintaining biodiversity.
Water is still the fundamental element for the cultivation of rice, one of the local products par excellence. Flooded fields are necessary for the growth and subsequent maturation of rice plants that are harvested early in the autumn. In the past, a good part of the work in the rice fields was entrusted to the mondine, women always bent over, feet soaked, to plant the rice and remove the weeds. With the advent of new technologies, the figure of the mondina has been replaced but today it still represents an icon of the peasant past of the lower Milanese territory. In recent years, the advent of new agricultural techniques has also led to reduced water usage. While this innovation, on the one hand, does save a lot of water, on the other it compromises the reproductive cycle of many animal species such as amphibians, crustaceans and insects that find in the humid rice field the perfect habitat for reproducing and finding food. Rice fields are also the ideal environment for different species of water birds such as herons, egrets, mallards and moorhens.
In the area of Carcana Lakes four former sand and clay quarries were transformed in the 1970s into lakes that today host fish and birds. Three of these are now used for sport fishing, while the fourth has gone through a phase of renaturalisation, becoming today a natural oasis.
Going through the 20km of the Zigò ring route, you can admire all these natural environments and get to know them in depth thanks to the presence of eight columns with as many QR codes that refer to specific in-depth studies.