ROC-POP-LIFE - Promoting biodiversity enhancement by Restoration Of Cystoseira POPulations

LIFE16 NAT/IT/000816

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Contact details:

Contact person: Annalisa FALACE
Tel: 390405583867
Email: falace@units.it

Project description:


Brown algae (Cystoseira) plays a key role in marine conservation, supporting biodiversity, food webs and sequestrating a large amount of carbon dioxide. In past decades, Cystoseira has declined in the Mediterranean due to anthropogenic pressure. All Cystoseira species are used for the definition of the reef habitat type (1170) listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive. In addition, several Cystoseira species are strictly protected under Annex I of the Bern Convention; while the Barcelona Convention's Mediterranean sea action plan identifies the conservation of all but one species as a priority. Cystoseira is also under surveillance as vulnerable by the IUCN and the MedPAN network of Mediterranean marine protected area managers. In addition it is one of the indicators of ecological quality, according to the Water Framework Directive. Even if these regulations reduce the impacts on Cystoseira, the lack of adults and the species' limited dispersal capabilities hamper natural recolonisation.


The ROC-POP-LIFE project aims to trigger the restoration of the Annex 1-listed reef habitat type (1170) in two Natura 2000 network marine sites - Cinque Terre and Miramare - which are also specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance). The reefs' restoration will be achieved by reintroduction of Cystoseira specimens taken from three Natura 2000 network sites - one in Italy (Portofino) and two in Slovenia (Strunjan) where scientific data indicates populations were present in the past. Pressures that lead to Cystoseira's disappearance have been removed and protection is now provided under the Natura 2000 network. The project will involve transplanting cultured seedlings, with advantages in terms of time, costs and ecological impact. The proposed method of restoration should encourage recolonisation without damaging donor sites. This is essential, given the critical conservation status of the species.

Specific objectives are:

  • Definition of a protocol for the culture of Cystoseira (C. amantacea v. stricta, C. crinita and C. barbata) and collection of fertile specimens from the Portofino and Strunjan sites, where populations are in good health are present, to ensure the availability of healthy seedlings;
  • Restoration of the reef habitat (1170) inside the Cinque Terre and Miramare sites via the transplantation of the cultured seedlings, also by quantifying and making efficient use of the ecosystem services provided by the marine Natura 2000 sites; and
  • Contribution to the achievement of the Water Framework Directive's required ‘good ecological status’ in the Natura 2000 sites, i.e. by demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed restoration measures.
  • Expected results:

  • Cystoseira reintroduced in the targeted sites. The recovery of C. amantacea v. stricta, C. crinita and C. barbata achieved: The project estimates the production of c. 2 million zygotes per species- type and a cultivation event (repeated twice a year for three years), starting from 200 specimens collected from 100 adults. The project estimates the initial survival for transplanting of 2 000 young specimens (survival 1/1 000). After 30 days in the receiving sites, 1 000 plants are expected to survive (a survival rate of 50%). After one year, 400 adult thalli are expected (survival rate of 40%). At the end of the cultivation events, the survival of 2 400 adult plants of each species is foreseen;
  • Numbers of alga should continue to increase in the target sites, after the end of the project, thanks to the critical density created and the natural reproduction of the transplanted populations. Natural recolonisation of nearby coastal areas is also predicted ;
  • In the mid- to long term-, the newly established areas of Cystoseira will form an ecological network with consequent positive effects on the Natura 2000 sites, by restoration of Cystoseira habitat functions. Thus, the improvement of the target reef habitat will be ensured, due to the recolonisation of species of high ecological value;
  • The process started by the restoration of Cystoseira, an indicator of good ecological quality, is expected to trigger the recovery of the ecological status of the targeted sites. In the context of the Water Framework Directive, the indices proposed to assess the macrophytes quality elements (i.e. the CARLIT and EEI methods) are based on the Cystoseira habitat assessment; and
  • Increased promotion/tourist visibility in the target Natura 2000 sites.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Marine


marine conservation area‚  marine ecosystem‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...
  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Directive 2008/56 - Framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (M ...
  • COM(2013)133 - “Proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning a ...

Target Habitat types

  • 1170 - Reefs

Natura 2000 sites

SCI IT1332674 Fondali Monte Portofino
SCI IT1344270 Fondali Punta Mesco - Rio Maggiore
SCI IT3340007 Area marina di Miramare
SPA SI5000031 Strunjan



Coordinator Università degli Studi di Trieste
Type of organisation University
Description The University of Trieste's life sciences department employs 200 researchers and collaborates with over 50 foreign institutions, both academic and industrial. The department specialises, among others, in the phycological sciences (taxonomy, physiology, ecology). It leads work concerning biological and ecological data collection, cultural activities, and will pilot activities to enhance environmental management and to suggest how to implement protection. It will also lead the assessment of biological data to assess the growth and development of Cystoseira.
Partners Softeco Sismat srl, Italy Consorzio di Gestione dell'Area Marina Protetta di Portofino, Italy Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy WWF Oasi Società Unipersonale a responsabilità limitata, Italy Javni zavod Krajinski park Strunjan, Slovenia Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, Italy


Project reference LIFE16 NAT/IT/000816
Duration 01-OCT-2017 to 30-SEP -2020
Total budget 912,697.00 €
EU contribution 543,597.00 €
Project location Liguria(Italia) Friuli-Venezia Giulia(Italia) Obalno-kraska(Slovenia Slovenija)


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