Cesine - Conservation of Wetlands in Cesine and decrease of human impact in the area

LIFE95 NAT/IT/000807

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Mario MANGIONE
Tel: 39-0832.899.233
Fax: 39-0832.892.522
Email: Vernole@mail4.clio.it

Project description:


The Cesine site, near the town of Lecce in Puglia, is one of the last ecologically important wetlands left in southern Italy. This has been acknowledged by its successive designation as “Oasi di Protezione” in 1975, a Ramsar wetland site of international importance in 1977, and a state nature reserve and a special protection area – SPA (Birds Directive) in 1980.
The site shelters many bird species of European importance, including two species ranked as priority for LIFE action on account of their conservation status, the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and the lesser kestrel (Falcus naumanni); as well as three priority habitat types: Mediterranean temporary ponds, calcareous fens with Cladium mariscus. Despite the site’s legal protection restrictions on paper, in practice increasing disturbance (indiscriminate human access, intense traffic, noise pollution) caused severe problems for the fauna and flora on site. The main threat is from the highway: This cuts right across the protected site, and allows people to enter the reserve at numerous points, thereby making surveillance and regulation of access almost impossible.


The project’s principal objective was to re-route the Del Pesce highway outside the site. The project funds would be used to build a new road that would carry traffic away from the nature reserve. To reduce the damage to the environment, this new route had to follow existing minor roads. The acquisition of the land needed for the construction of this alternative route would be carried out in full consultation with the local residents in order to gain their support.
The site is jointly managed by a national ministry and an Italian NGO; and removal of the traffic would enable more effective surveillance of the reserve. The section of road within the reserve, once closed to traffic, would be only used for recreational purposes within the framework of controlled visitor access.


The beneficiary succeeded in closing the highway running through the Cesine SPA and re-routing traffic to a new road.
Specifically, shortly before the end of the project, in February 2000, a municipality act was established to close the old road to traffic and to re-route traffic to the new road. Barriers and signs were placed by the beneficiary to prevent access to the old road. Furthermore, the project succeeded in acquiring the c. 41 000 m2 of land needed for the construction of the alternative route. This was actually substantially more than the foreseen amount of c. 27 000 m2. Works on the new road were completed in 1999, and traffic re-routed in 2000.
The closure of the old road resulted in a significant reduction in noise and air pollution connected to traffic in the study area. The normal number of cars that travelled on the old road prior to its closure was estimated to be more than 70 cars/ hour, with a peak of about 1 000 cars/ hour on public holidays and weekends. Noise studies were implemented by the beneficiary in 2000 at 9 sites: These reported a “very significant" reduction in the noise level after the closure of the road.
Although the beneficiary was successful in closing the old road and re-routing traffic to the new road, it was not successful in carrying out the planned removal of asphalt from the old stretch of highway. Road works could not be started by the municipality since -permission was not received from the national responsible authority, as is required by Italian law. The project was also unsuccessful in preventing all traffic from using the old road; as unfortunately some cars managed to manoeuvre around through the blocks and enter the old road.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater


protected area‚  noise reduction‚  wetland‚  transport planning‚  land purchase‚  environmental impact of transport

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 ...

Natura 2000 sites

SCI IT9150032 Le Cesine



Coordinator Amministrazione Comunale di Vernole
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The municipality of Vernole, in the province of Lecce in Puglia, is the public authority responsible for the management of the Cesine nature reserve, created in 1979 and managed by Worldwide Fund for Nature - Italy (WWF - Italia). Among others the municipality is responsible for land use planning, including environmental protection and nature conservation.
Partners Regione Puglia Provincia Lecce


Project reference LIFE95 NAT/IT/000807
Duration 01-JAN-1996 to 30-SEP -2000
Total budget 708,200.00 €
EU contribution 354,100.00 €
Project location Puglia(Italia)


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