ISOTOSCA - Tuscan Islands: new actions towards sea birds and habitat

LIFE04 NAT/IT/000172

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Francesca GIANNINI
Tel: 39 0565 919443
Fax: 39 0565 919428
Email: giannini@islepark.it

Project description:


The Tuscan Archipelago hosts important bird species including the shearwater (Calonectris diomedaea), the storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) and the Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii). These have been threatened by the presence of alien species, i.e. rats and cats, and by human disturbance, which have had a negative impact on the birds’ habitats and breeding performance.

Audouin’s gull population dynamics indicate movements of colonies and the withdrawal of traditional breeding grounds, for reasons still not known but possibly related to human activities. The increase of Yellow-legged gull (Larus cachinnans) population has also had a negative impact on the Audouin’s gull through the competition for breeding sites and the predation of nests.

Previous project work, including LIFE funded actions, had occurred on individual islands to tackle negative impacts from alien species.


The aim of this project was to apply successful conservation techniques, applied during the previous project work, in order to guarantee the conservation of marine bird colonies in all the national park’s islands. Scientific research was planned to improve understanding on the Audouin’s gull colony movements and identify potential breeding sites for management.

Conservation plans for the national park’s species were to be elaborated and implemented, which would entail removal of alien species (rats and cats). Analysis of tourism activities sought to identify optimum management methodologies to reduce visitor pressures on wildlife. Further monitoring was planned to track the project's performance in terms of conservation benefits and public awareness.


Monitoring of Audouin's gull (Larus audouinii) colonies and analysis of the species’ reproductive success were carried out in all islands of the Arcipelago. Adequate protection measures were adopted when needed. Knowledge about Larus cachinnans was also improved and this should help limit the increase in population size, in order to reduce competition effects with the Audouin's gull.

Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) colonies were monitored and specific protection actions were undertaken in Giannutri island, the largest island occupied by this species, where rats were eradicated using more than 1 000 poisoned bait traps. Similar techniques were applied on Pianosa island to protect young shearwaters. Positive effects of the rat eradication have already been observed with an increase in shearwater nesting numbers.

Removal of feral cats from Pianosa island, using humane techniques, also helped protect Audouin's gulls and shearwaters. Over 50 cats were captured, sterilized and transferred to Elba island. Few cats remained on the island and further capture activities are planned in 2008.

Some 28 ha of juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) formations were recovered on Pianosa island. Control of shrubs and invasive plants was carried out in about 3 ha of open priority habitats (*6220, *3170) on Capraia island.

Four Actions Plans were produced and approved for the: conservation of Audouin's gull in the Tuscan Archipelago; conservation of juniper formations on Pianosa island; protection of priority habitats on Capraia island; and reduction of rat recolonisation risks in Giannutri island.

Awareness raising activities were also successfully achieved.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds
Habitats - Marine
Biodiversity issues - Invasive species


endangered species‚  protected area‚  island‚  management plan

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Calonectris diomedea   Hydrobates pelagicus   Larus audouinii   Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii   Puffinus yelkouan   

Target Habitat types

  • 3170 - Mediterranean temporary ponds
  • 5210 - Arborescent matorral with Juniperus spp.
  • 6220 - Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ente Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Italian beneficiary is public sector Park Authority responsible for The National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, which covers 80 000 ha of both terrestrial and marine areas.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE04 NAT/IT/000172
Duration 01-SEP-2004 to 31-DEC -2007
Total budget 566,000.00 €
EU contribution 283,000.00 €
Project location Toscana(Italia)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website (IT)
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (IT)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (IT/EN)


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