ORSO SIRENTE - Conservation of Brown bear in the sites of the Sirente-Velino Regional Park

LIFE03 NAT/IT/000151

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Oremo DI NINO
Tel: 0039 0862 916633
Email: direzione@sirentevelino.it

Project description:


In 2001, the Sirente Velino Regional Park in the central Apennines concluded a LIFE project (LIFE NAT 94/1140 "Habitat Gole Rupestri") aimed at the conservation of the brown bear. The project, which covered nine proposed SCIs inside the park, was based on actions recommended in the European Action Plan for the brown bear. The results were greater awareness of the local population as to the importance of the species and a reduction of human disturbance in the areas of potential importance for the bear. In 2001, the first successful reproduction of the species was confirmed within the project area.

The brown bear, included in the Habitats Directive as a priority species, is one of the most endangered mammals of Europe, threatened by numerous factors, such as the fragmentation of its habitat, lack of ecological connection among patches of suitable sites, conflict with cattle breeders, poaching and poisoning. During the project a brown bear was found dead, due to poisoned baits used illegally by local breeders against stray dogs. Moreover, the brown bear has a low reproductive rate, breeding every three/four years, and special habitats requirements, such as low human presence and suitable wintering sites, both of which are characteristic of the Sirente Velino area. The park hosts a number of individuals of this typical subspecies, Ursus arctos marsicanus .


This LIFE project would build on the results of the previous phase. Actions were agreed jointly during consultations held in 2001 by the park, municipalities and local breeders. Disturbance in critical areas for bears, such as breeding and wintering sites, will be reduced by channelling walkers onto new alternative paths and closing forestry tracks.

In order to improve the habitat and availability of food, 7000 indigenous fruit trees would be planted and 1,500 pruned. Three water troughs for wildlife will be constructed in order to avoid conflict with domestic cattle. The Sirente Velino Park would also provide farmers with eight electric fences to prevent damage from bears and will carry out a stray dog capture and sterilisation campaign.

The project also planned to continue updating data to provide greater protection for the species. Monitoring would include collection of fur for genetic fingerprinting and recognition of individual bears. The awareness-raising campaign started during the previous phase would also be continued, targeting the local population and in particular local schools.


The project was carried out between 2003-2007 in the regional natural park Monte Sirente-Velino (Abruzzo Region) to protect the Marsican bear population and improve its habitat quality. The project’s actions reduced the following threats:

  • Low suitability conditions of linking areas inside and outside the natural park.
  • Conflict with breeders.
  • Poor knowledge of the bear population and the exact location of more significant sites.
  • Disturbances near the core areas, hibernation and reproduction sites due to free access via the forest roads in Val D'Arano.
  • Lack of public sensitivity about brown bear conservation.
  • The project achieved the following results:

  • Plantation of 6,900 wild fruit trees and the pruning 1,518 in the linking areas inside and outside the natural park.
  • Reduction of free ranging dogs (78 stray dogs sterilised),
  • Construction of eight electric fences for a total of 32ha fenced, managing areas of overlap between cattle and bear in grassland at high elevation.
  • Closure of two forest roads (for a total of about 30km of road closed to private cars).
  • Restoration of 9.9km of forest road to reduce damage to the pasturelands.
  • Creation of two watering points with a water tank of about 30,000l;
  • Monitoring of stable bear presence areas, core areas and potential site's linking areas.
  • To increase the public’s knowledge of the natural environment, a 8.7km footpath in Val d'Arano was constructed and an awareness-raising programme was launched to caution against poisoning and wandering dogs. Two meetings were held and several information and dissemination initiatives were carried out in schools and among the public. A documentary on Marsican bear was produced (in Italian only).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Mammals


natural park‚  protected area‚  public awareness campaign‚  mountainous area

Target species

 Ursus arctos     

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ente Parco Naturale Regionale Sirente-Velino
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description Founded in 1989, the Regional Natural Park Sirente Velino consists of 55,000ha in the Region Abruzzo (Central Italy). It is a public body with representatives from 18 local municipalities, the mountain community, the region, the farmers' unions and the environmental associations.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE03 NAT/IT/000151
Duration 01-OCT-2003 to 30-SEP -2007
Total budget 864,800.00 €
EU contribution 432,400.00 €
Project location Abruzzo(Italia)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website (IT/EN)
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan (IT)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (IT)
Video link Project's video(21')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version