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Natura 2000 in the Po Delta - Conservation of habitats and species in the Natura 2000 sites in the Po Delta

LIFE09 NAT/IT/000110


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

Contact details:

Contact person: Cristina BARBIERI
Tel: +39 0533 314003
Fax: +39 0533 318007
Email: cristinabarbieri@istitutodelta.it



Project description:

Background

The Po Delta Park is a protected wetlands region of 53 653 ha at the mouth of the River Po. It is the most complex system of wetlands in Italy, also containing forests, dunes and salt pans. It has a rich biodiversity, with around 1 000 plant and over 350 vertebrate species, and provides locations suitable for bird nesting and for the reproduction of amphibians and reptiles. However, vast portions of the wetlands have been drained and reclaimed. The remaining wetlands - known locally as “valli” - are used for extensive fish farming activities. The main threat to the wetlands is water eutrophication, mainly caused by poor water circulation and salinity. Within the Po Delta Park, the Valli di Comacchio Natura 2000 network site comprises two main basins and is 90% public property, with about 80% devoted to fish farming. In the Veneto Region, the valli are privately owned and occupy approximately a third of the entire area of the Delta del Po: tratto terminale e delta Veneto and the Delta del Po Natura 2000 network sites.


Objectives

The objective of the Natura 2000 in the Po Delta project was the conservation of habitats and species of the River Po Delta, in four Natura 2000 network sites, by developing joint conservation actions between multiple public and private owners. The project specifically aimed to improve water circulation and reduce eutrophication in the two main basins of the Valli di Comacchio site, to allow the restoration of several important habitats: coastal lagoons, Salicornia and other annual colonising mud and sand banks, Mediterranean salt meadows, Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic holophilous scrubs, and Mediterranean salt steppes. Planned species conservation actions included establishing about 8.7 ha of land and twenty artificial floating sites suitable for nesting of tern species (Sternidae), creating eight freshwater ponds to promote amphibian reproduction, installing two embankments for common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), and implementing measures to favour reproduction of European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) and common spadefoot toad (Pelobates fuscus insubricus).


Results

The Natura 2000 in the Po Delta project successfully developed and implemented a series of actions that protected habitats and species in four Natura 2000 network sites in the Po Delta. These actions resulted in appropriate improvements in water circulation and water quality inside the “valli” of these sites, which contributed to the conservation in a favourable state, in terms of the Birds and Habitats Directives, of a number of wetland habitat types, and various species of birds, amphibians and reptiles. Ex-post monitoring verified the positive effects on the target habitats and species due to the field interventions, in the first year after the interventions.

The project recognised the value of extensive fish farming as a productive activity that has contributed to the preservation of these wetlands. Key for the preservation of these areas is therefore the continuation of fish farming, and the involvement of all stakeholders involved in this activity in conservation actions.

The project partners excavated over 8 500 m of channels, with 1 400 000 m3 of earth being moved. Siphons and drains were renovated for water regulation, with the right balance of saltwater and freshwater, which enhanced water circulation capacity and enabled water to be better managed to improve the conservation status of coastal lagoons. As a result of the creation of more than 8 ha of suitable habitat for the nesting of the target gull and tern species, in Valle di Comacchio in 2012, over 1 200 pairs of the target bird species nested on newly-established mounds. The constructed islets were soon colonised by all eight target bird species in the Valli di Comacchio: Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrines), pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), little tern (Sternula albifrons), gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis), common tern (Sterna hirundo), slender-billed gull (Larus genei), and Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus). However, heavy rain and the flooding of sites by anomalous water levels in 2014 prevented colonisation that year. At Cà Mello and Bosco Nordio, the project team created eight sites suitable for the reproduction of Emys orbicularis and Pelobates fuscus, while two management operations were performed on sandy banks to encourage the laying of Emys orbicularis eggs. In Cà Mello the sites have been frequented by Emys orbicularis, and in Bosco Nordio, where the sites were created two years earlier, newborn terrapins of this species have been recorded since 2013. In Bosco Nordio, in one of the ponds built in 2014, the first Pelobates fuscus eggs were found.

The project had its SCI management plan for the Valli di Comacchio approved by the relevant authorities, to help maintain suitable water levels and prevent the flooding of nesting habitats. An agreement was signed for the next five years between two private lagoon fish breeders and associated beneficiary Ente Parco Delta del Po Veneto for a shared public-private management of the Natura 2000 network sites. The project published a range of informative material and held 12 meetings addressed to specific stakeholders. To assure the future of educational activities initiated by the project, a building was restored at the Bonifica di Cà Vendramin Regional Museum, an open-air classroom called “Microcosmo” was built at the Bosco Nordio Nature Reserve, and two trails were set up for educational guided tours in privately-owned sites at Valle Bagliona and Valle Ca' Pisani thanks to an agreement with the owners.

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


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Habitats - Freshwater


Keywords

restoration measure‚  eutrophication‚  protected area‚  wetlands ecosystem‚  public-private partnership‚  wetland‚  nature conservation


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(95) 189 - "Communication on the judicious use and conservation of wetlands" (12.12.1995)
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive ...

Target species

 Alcedo atthis   Charadrius alexandrinus   Emys orbicularis   Gelochelidon nilotica   Larus genei   Larus melanocephalus   Pelobates fuscus insubricus   Recurvirostra avosetta   Sterna albifrons   Sterna hirundo   Sterna sandvicensis   


Target Habitat types

  • 1150 - Coastal lagoons
  • 1310 - Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
  • 1410 - Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi)
  • 1420 - Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi)
  • 1510 - Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia)

Natura 2000 sites

SCI IT4060002 Valli di Comacchio
SCI IT3270017 Delta del Po: tratto terminale e delta veneto
SCI IT3250032 Bosco Nordio
SPA IT3270023 Delta del Po


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator Ente di Gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità - Delta del Po
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Delta del Po Regional Park Consortium, located in northern Italy, is a public consortium of nine municipalities and two provinces constituted to manage the Delta del Po Regional Park.
Partners Ente Parco Delta del Po Veneto, Italy Consorzio di Bonifica Delta del Po Adige, Italy Veneto Agricoltura, Italy WWF Italy

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Project reference LIFE09 NAT/IT/000110
Duration 01-SEP-2010 to 30-NOV -2014
Total budget 4,344,770.00 €
EU contribution 2,172,385.00 €
Project location Veneto(Italia) Emilia-Romagna(Italia)

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Read more:

Leaflet "Natura 2000 in the Po Delta" (772 KB)
Leaflet "Natura 2000 in the Po Delta" (404 KB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (Italian version)
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "Conservation of habitats and species in the Natura 2000 sites in the Po Delta - Natural 2000 in the Po Delta" [IT - 5']
Video link "Il Grande Delta del Po nella Rete Natura 2000" [IT - 18']
Video link "The Great Po Delta in the Natura 2000 Network" [EN - 18']

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