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January 31, 2023

LIFE A-MAR and the Natura 2000 Network in Italy: from knowledge to the role of stakeholders

On January 31, 2023, as part of Activity A1 of the LIFE A-MAR NATURA2000 project, Federparchi organized the first training meeting aimed at stakeholders involving, in this case, Regione Liguria and the Cinque Terre National Park, one of the three co-financing parks.
The discussion was opened by Maria Villani, who explained for the involved participants the objectives of the project, the main actions envisaged and the key strategy that is based on: user awareness, promotion of replicable good practices and sustainable behaviors, promotion of active citizenship, training support to managers of Natura 2000 Sites, and public involvement through Citizen science activities. Next, Giulia Luzi, from Triton Research, instead went into detail about the awareness and engagement sailing campaign to promote Natura 2000 Marine Sites, the pivotal activity of all the communication. The sailing campaign, which will start in late spring and end by July 2023, will include press events and information activities in ports and tourist locations near 40 Marine Natura 2000 Sites with modalities tailored to different targets: guided tours, participatory meetings, press conferences, etc. The area covered is the Tyrrhenian Sea, from San Remo to Tropea plus the northern coast of Sicily and the eastern coast of Sardinia, where 12 onshore stops will be made over the two-month period. Strategic points of the activities will be the project’s three co-financing parks: Cinque Terre, Tuscan Archipelago and Asinara.
The meeting then focused on the Ligurian area with speeches by Francesco Marchese, on LIFE planning in the Cinque Terre Park and the importance of this tool in the development, implementation and updating of EU environmental policies, Greta Vagge, an official of the Liguria Region who spoke on behalf of the director of the Coastal Ecosystem and Water Sector Ilaria Fasce explaining the activities currently underway such as the expansion of an IT SAC dedicated to bottlenose dolphins. Going into the details of the SAC IT1344270 Fondali Punta Mesco Riomaggiore, managed by the Cinque Terre MPA, biologist Ilaria Lavarello then illustrated the peculiarities of the site, mainly dedicated to Posidonia oceanica and coralligenous, the conservation and protection activities undertaken by the Park (no anchoring areas, mooring buoy fields, video surveillance, etc.), as well as research projects and fauna health assessment. These include the recently concluded LIFE ROC-POP project aimed at the reintroduction of the brown seaweed Cystoseira.

Considering the importance of the involvement of nautical and tourism operators in LIFE A-MAR NATURA2000, the figures who will directly interface with the public and play a key role in raising their awareness were finally involved. Thus, Ilaria Gonnelli, head of the Cinque Terre MPA’s Authorized Diving, Federico Gaino one of the Park’s hiking guides, Rudi Biassoli, president of the Cinque Terre Golfo dei Poeti Maritime Tourist Consortium, and Cristiano Livadoti of the CETS Forum, spoke about their experience. All operators stressed the importance of the breefing phase on biodiversity and conservation issues both through specially trained staff and through information materials (panels, brochures, sites, etc.). It will, therefore, be mainly these figures both in Liguria and in the rest of the country who will act as a filter between managers/researchers of Natura 2000 marine sites and the general public so that the urgent message of awareness-raising arrives clear, effective and purposeful.
In the coming weeks, the stakeholder engagement activity will continue with the National Parks of the Tuscan Archipelago and Asinara, always with a “pyramid” approach to involvement, from the main institutions to individual operators.