Objectives and Actions

The main objective is to protect and improve the status of plant species of Community importance (Annexes II-IV to Directive 92/43/EEC) in Natura 2000 areas that are included in three parks of the Central Apennines: Majella National Park, National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, Sirente-Velino Regional Park. All objectives are in keeping with the National Strategy on Biodiversity of the Italian Ministry of Environment. The species of Community interest at the heart of the project are: Cypripedium calceolus, Adonis distorta, Androsace mathildae, Iris marsica, Astragalus aquilanus, Klasea lycopifolia, Jacobaea vulgaris subsp. gotlandica. Some of the actions planned by the project are: in situ conservation, tourism impact reduction, awareness campaigning among stakeholders.
In situ conservation (that means ‘in plants’ own habitat’) particularly implies the protection and development of existing populations endangered by human activities and self-sown vegetation. The project aims to conserve and increase species population (both by increasing the number of individuals in the existing stations and by creating new stations) in Majella National Park (Cypripedium calceolus, Adonis distorta, Androsace mathildae, Iris marsica and Astragalus aquilanus), Sirente-Velino Regional Park (Klasea lycopifolia, Jacobaea vulgaris subsp. gotlandica, Astragalus aquilanus and Adonis distorta) and National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise (Cypripedium calceolus and Iris marsica). To that end, it needs to exploit ex situ cultivated plants (that means ‘grown in a man-made environment’) with the help of propagules (seeds and other parts of the plant) picked in the wild. The stages of germination for those seeds picked from parks of Abruzzo Region and their neighbouring areas will be analysed. Some of the reproduced plants will be cultivated in special areas of parks’ botanical gardens and visitor centres. The project also aims at protecting Klasea lycopifolia’s sites against pasturing and mowing that endanger the fruit production.
Reducing the tourism impacts on target species means reorganising the streams of visitors in those areas where these species grow (paths, roads, itineraries for horse riders, etc.).
Finally information and awareness campaigns for stakeholders are scheduled. These shared actions aim to raise awareness about the importance of conservation, thus filling gradually the knowledge gap of local communities about species of Community interest and the necessity of their conservation. These actions will be addressed both to local communities and park visitors. Particular stress will be placed on in-school training, also by creating didactic flower-beds made of species involved in the project.

 

Expected Results

– Protection of some populations of the target species from main threats in almost 9 sites, by moving a segment of a path;
– Population growth for those scanty ones living in 9 sites;
– Creation of 6 new populations as an experiment;
– Fructification rise in Cypripedium calceolus’s populations;
– Georeferenced database with data for each population;
– Tests on vitality and germination of species at Majella’s ‘seed bank’;
– Production of at least 3,220 plants belonging to species of Community interest;
– GIS tool for managing Klasea lycopifolia’s sites and protecting almost 30% of
meadows from early mowing;
– Visitor centre with a special path accessible to handicapped people in Sirente-Velino Regional Park;
– Creation of flower-beds in visitor centres, botanical gardens and thematic paths;
– Creation of a website with photogallery and specific mailing list for sending periodical newsletters;
– Implementation of basic communication tools including a final Layman’s report;
– Production of information and education material, as well as of gadgets;
– Organisation of a photo contest and of an international conference with publication of the proceedings;
– Press conferences, education activities for schools and networking activities in Italy and at European level.

 

Areas of Action

The actions for protecting and improving the conservation status of these species are carried out within Natura 2000 sites of three parks:
for Majella National Park, the SCIs of ‘Majella’, ‘Southwestern Majella’, ‘Pizzi Mountains-Secine Mount’, ‘Fonte di Papa’ and the vast SPA of ‘Majella National Park’;
for National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, the SCIs of ‘Peaks of Meta Massif’, ‘Mountain chain of the Meta-Mountain chain of the Mainarde’, ‘National Park of Abruzzo’ and ‘Canneto Valley’, that are mostly in the vast SPA with the same name;
for Sirente-Velino Regional Park, the SCIs of ‘Mountains of the Duchess’, ‘Mount of the Duchess: Vallone Cieco and Bosco Cartore’, ‘Sirente Mount and Velino Mount’, ‘Sierra and Gorges of Celano – Arno Valley’, ‘Gorges of St. Venantius’ and ‘Pass of Rascito’ with the vast SPA of ‘Sirente-Velino’.

Actions:

Action A1: Preparation of administrative procedures for the project start-up

All administrative acts required to start up the project are scheduled and the agreement between the coordinator beneficiary and his partners will be signed. Both roles and specific tasks within the different areas of expertise are defined and two successful candidates will be appointed as project manager and financial manager.

Actions A2: Implementation of a floristic geodatabase

Implementation of a geographical information system (GIS) having a database dedicated to plants of Abruzzo’s flora included in Annexes II and IV to Habitat Directive and living in the parks involved in the project. The geodatabase would contain all information about the populations of the target species, including those that will be identified in the areas covered by the project thanks to some arranged surveying actions. For populations involved in the field actions, this tool will help to reiterate the survey programmatically in the following years of the project, even after its official closure, in order to monitor the practical actions of conservation.

Action A3: Field data collection

It is an action concerning the field data collection about the populations of plant species within Abruzzo’s parks, also in areas not covered by the project but involved in SCIs, or out of them. It aims to re-delimit the existing sites or to create the new ones in order to include the target species. Data resulting from this field surveys, including new stations, will be combined with those already known and recorded in the geodatabase. The cytomolecular studies for the right taxonomic attribution to a specific species will be carried out for some populations, whereas, for others, the forms of growth will be analysed.

Action A4: Planning, preparation and executive design of interventions

The planning and design of the active actions for in situ conservation consist in dendrometrical measurements, in drawing up maps about the potential presence of species, as well as in identifying sites suitable for translocation as provided for in the concrete actions for conservation. They also consist in carrying out the authorisation processes and the preliminary and executive design for the scheduled realisation of the botanical garden-visitor centre in Sirente-Velino Regional Park, as well as in its educative and scientific planning.

Action A5: Educational work experience

An educational work experience in the Alps is scheduled. It is addressed to partners’ teams of technicians and focused on the techniques of nursery propagation, cultivation and agronomic management of territory on the vegetal species of interest, as well as on the general management of botanical gardens.

Action A6: Realisation of a communication plan

A communication plan will be defined in order to identify the best forms of seed dispersion and sensitisation of the target species. It involves a very mixed audience (local people, tourists, tour operators, managers, growers, farmers, students, etc.).

Action A7: Individuation and analysis of stakeholders for Floranet participatory process

This action aims to transfer the best practices already experienced within Life Extra Project (LIFE07 NAT/IT/502), in order to lessen the conflicts between the conservation policies and the local communities. There will be the identification and mapping of the actors/stakeholders involved in the mowing of the meadows in Sirente-Velino Regional Park, on hiking routes both in this park and in the Majella Mountain, and on sites such as Camosciara in Park of Abruzzo, that are highly visited or in which some specimens are illegally picked.

Action A8: Planning of administrative procedures for adjusting SCI areas to the distribution of species of Community interest

Technicians and scientific consultants involved in the project will elaborate a technical document where they intend to identify, point by point, all criteria required to make choices on the right boundaries of SCIs considering the real distribution of the species in the areas of the project. Round-table conferences will take place with Regions and Municipalities that were willing to contribute to achieving the project objectives even while this proposal was being written.

Action C1: Propagules picking

This action regards the picking of seeds and vegetative propagules belonging to all target species both within the involved parks and other neighbouring territories, in order to guarantee a higher level of genetic diversity of the picked material. For each picking site, information will be gathered about the accruals of fructification of the species in the area. These pieces of information will be put in a special section of the geodatabase planned in action A2.

Action C2: In vitro propagation

This action aims to micropropagate the plant material resulted from seeds and/or seedlings picked in the wild of those species for which the seed propagation can be unsuccessful. The traditional ‘tissue culture’ methods (a bud is used for vegetative propagation after being isolated from the mother plant) will be applied. They enable us to grow several individuals in reduced spaces, as well as to have fast cycles of propagation, to maintain the germplasm for a long time and to propagate even those species that hardly propagate in vivo.

Action C3: Nursery propagation

Seedlings belonging to the species involved in the project will be propagated from propagules (seeds, rhizomes, stolons) that were being picked during Action C1, from buds produced from micropropagation (Action C2) and from seed propagation and its germination protocols (Action C4). After germination, the cultivation implies following steps in a protected environment and then outside, in a nursery. During this action, cultivation protocols for diverse species will be defined. This action is due to be carried out at ‘Daniela Brescia’ Botanical Garden, in Sant’Eufemia a Majella (in the province of Pescara).

Action C4: Seed propagation

This action regards the seed propagation of the target species involved in the project. It is due to be carried out at Majella Seed Bank under University of L’Aquila’s supervision. The seed propagation is necessary to ensure a high level of genetic variation both in restocking actions and in the creation of new stations as provided for by Action C7. It is also very important because a proper amount of seeds is at heart of rare or threatened plants conservation. Moreover, the conservation of the material at Majella Seed Bank is one of the most effective methods of protecting the genetic variation of populations from which the germplasm has been taken during programmes of in situ conservation. Vitality and germination tests will be carried out because they are essential to quantify the necessary seeds to pick for propagation, and to ensure a high level of long-term conservation efficiency. A germination protocol will be defined in order to guarantee the nursery propagation of Action C3; if this protocol cannot be defined and, consequently, a proper number of specimens is not propagated, then the target species will be propagated anyway through micropropagation of Action C2.

Action C5: Silvicultural interventions

Mechanical thinning out of plants on some sites where the target species grow will occur in all three parks taken into consideration. In particular, by cutting down trees and bushes, some woody vegetation that overruns clearings and pasture lands, endangering the survival of the species, will be removed. Some of the scheduled interventions are to create new clearings or to widen the existing ones, as well as to thin out trees selectively and to remove bushes on the edge of the wood. As an indirect protection from possible fires, firebreaks are due to be built. Other interventions include: the varying thinning out of vegetation, the trimming of the bushes or the ordinary cutting of the branches, etc. Individuals of rival invasive species such as Asphodelus macrocarpus will be removed through eradication, while those belonging to possible related species (Iris germanica) will be removed in the stations where their presence is detected, in order to keep them from hybridising with Iris marsica.

Action C6: Protection of the floristic stations more at risk

In Majella National Park, National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise and Sirente-Velino Regional Park this action aims to protect some species of Community interest that are threatened by anthropic activities (road system, cycling tourism, brindle paths, large-sized livestock grazing, winter tourism, camping, off-road vehicles, etc.). Small fencings or palings next to some plants are scheduled, as well as some small shelter structures upon isolated plants, a path detour in Majella, the implementation of stone banks (or basic reinforcements) along torrents in order to combat erosion and undermining. Other interventions are: the cleaning of plastic geocell fragments that result from breaking up a parking area surface formerly constructed in Sirente-Velino Regional Park, and that are now scattered throughout the grasslands for several hectares; the implementation of electrified mobile fencings on the grass so that it can be protected from pasturing and horse crossing.

Action C7: Restocking and creation of new stations

Through this action some individuals cultivated in nursery under Action C3 are reintroduced in order to develop the scanty wild populations and to create some new stations for local extremely rare species. The creation of new stations would be by way of experiment, because a reference bibliography about such interventions with the same species is not yet available.

Action C8: Manual fertilisation of Cypripedium calceolus

This action consists of manually pollinating Cypripedium calceolus’s flowers into the population growing in Majella, Valley of Macchialunga in Fara San Martino (in the province of Chieti) and into two populations growing in National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. The pollinia will be extracted from each flower and then put manually on pistils when the plant is in full bloom (mid June). Cross-fertilisation will be sought within limits between plants.

Action C9: Action for rescuing lands from mowing in favour of Klasea lycopifolia conservation

This action aims to rescue some portions of hay meadow from mowing (and/or to foster its delay), to allow the populations of priority Klasea lycopifolia species to complete its biological cycle. At present it cannot bloom and bear fruit because of hay mowing that generally occurs between the end of June and the beginning of July. First of all, a cartographic tool will be implemented: a GIS layer (shapefile) that will help to identify the cadastral parcels indicating the presence of rare species on which mowing should be avoided (or delayed). Then this tool will be implemented through some specific surveys, as well as through inspections at Records Office, Italian Territory Agency and Revenue Agency, engineering departments and registry offices of municipalities; but also through interviews given by real and current landowners and real managers about their habits in mowing and pasturing.

Action C10: Consultation activities aimed to obtain some management agreement on conservation of species included in Annexe II and of their habitat

In each area of the project participatory processes will be carried out through negotiations involving all main special interest groups (citizens, breeders, hunters, farmers, trade associations, local managers, excursionists, etc.). The objective is to achieve a shared management in conservation of target species and their habitat, that is able to neutralise conflicts and gain broad agreement on conservation efforts. During the meetings some conflict management and mitigation techniques will be applied, with specific approaches already developed at international level aiming to foster a constructive interaction among participants.

Action C11: The signing of agreement between Abruzzo Region and Municipalities for adjusting SCI areas to distribution of species of Community and priority interest

The procedures necessary to adjust SCI boundaries to the target species will be implemented. The agreement will be signed after negotiations between Abruzzo Region and Municipalities involved in reassessing SCI boundaries as specified in Action A8. The official proposal about defining SCI boundaries and their formularies will be formulated, and then its bureaucratic procedures provided for by regulations can be activated.

Action D1: Technical monitoring of project actions impact

Monitoring is necessary to verify the effectiveness both of the action regarding restocking and creation of new stations of the target species, and of concrete actions of conservation in general. Several indicators will be taken into consideration according to type of action: number of propagules, micropropagated plants, propagated plants and cultivation protocols; number of experimental tests and germination protocols, percentage of surface area subject to interventions; number of protected floristic stations, restocking sites and new created stations; number of pollination events per station, percentage of surface area involved in the interruption and/or delay of mowing; number of signed conventions and operational protocols achieved with stakeholders; number of subscriptions with state and local authorities for adjusting SCI boundaries.

Action D2: Assessment of socio-economic impact of the project actions at local level

In order to assess the socio-economic impact, among all possible variables, there will be a monitoring process of the stream of tourists at the visitor centres hosting some structures dedicated to species involved in the project like botanical gardens of Majella, visitor centres of Pescasseroli and Sirente-Velino Regional Park. The number of visitors asking for some specific information on the project or on the target species at the visitor centres and information points will be also monitored and analysed.

Action D3: Assessment of project impact on regeneration and functions of ecosystem

This action aims to monitor both direct and indirect effects of the project actions on ecosystem-based functionality. Habitats will be assessed according to structure and functionality parameters. Vegetation and floristic composition will be analysed, as well as the presence and covering of: dominant and type species, disturbance indicator species, alien species, species indicating dynamic phenomena in progress.

Action D4: Assessment of Floranet participatory process

The whole participatory process will be scientifically assessed through an ongoing analysis on the change in roles and habits of the involved actors. After that, the participatory process planning and management can be re-centred.

Action E1: Communication tools and basic seed dispersion

According to what is defined by the communication plan, identified stakeholders and target groups will be directly involved in communication activities, thus having a strategic role in capitalising the results of the project. The project can gain more visibility through scheduled materials, and the EU support and Life programme purposes will be promoted properly. The following communication tools are planned: coordinate graphics, website, newsletters, explanatory panels, Layman’s reports, information and technical brochures, amount of monitoring results and actions on the target species, gadgets, film clips.

Azione E2: Communication events

Communication events of local, national and European significance are arranged in order to present the project, inform the public and the stakeholders of the sector, as well as to communicate each partner’s management commitment, to implement networking activities with other work groups on common issues, and to involve widely stakeholders in the activities of the project. The scheduled events are: press conferences, a photo contest about flora in the Apennines that will result in a photographic exhibition, networking with other Life projects and not only, a final international meeting.

Action E3: Realisation of a teaching programme

Under this teaching programme for primary and secondary school pupils of the project areas many activities are planned: briefings with teachers, distribution of didactic handbooks, classroom meetings, workshops and tours in the botanical gardens of the involved parks. All these activities will help to realise didactic flower-beds in courtyards of the schools taking part in the project.

Action E4: Creation of paths for protected flora of the Apennines

In each of three parks a strategic path is due to be identified. Some explanatory panels will be fixed in place to give information both on the project and on endangered species, as well as on species habitats, their status of conservation and protection, and finally on precautions to take in order to prevent their damage. The panels will also report general news about the project.

Action E5: Cultivation of plant species in botanical gardens included in Annexes II and IV to Habitat Directive

Some individuals grown in nursery under Action C3 will be cultivated in the botanical gardens of Majella National Park, of the visitor centre of Pesasseroli and of the visitor centre of Sirente-Velino Regional Park. Besides the educational purposes of this action, the cultivation of species in botanical gardens would also represent another form of ex situ conservation.

Action E6: Realisation of a flora visitor centre included in Annexes II and IV to Habitat Directive in Sirente-Velino Regional Park

A popular tourist area is planned within Sirente-Velino Regional Park. It will be dedicated to flora of Community interest belonging to this park, with a botanical path that can have recreational facilities, be accessible also to handicapped people and with some information points too.

Action F1: General project management

This action regards Floranet Life Project general management. The financial manager, the senior project manager, the project manager and the technical coordinator will be in charge of coordinating all beneficiaries. These professional figures, together with technical managers, will make up the ‘coordination group’.

Action F2: Project actions monitoring

This actions aims to manage and control all project actions through a series of meetings organised by the coordination group. These meetings will be focused on actions progress, timing control and discussion about possible technical issues and changes.

Action F3: External audit

An audit will be conducted by external and independent qualified accountants to verify the right project management from an accounting and financial point of view.

Action F4: Post-Life strategy

A strategy aiming to continue the actions of the project after its official closure will be worked out. This strategy is essential to ensure a high level of target species protection and conservation.