Conservazione e recupero delle praterie xero-termiche della Valle di Susa mediante la gestione pastorale

Semi-natural dry-grassland consevation and restoration in Valle Susa through grazing management

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  • LIFE XEROGRAZING: Pecore e orchidee
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  • LIFE+ Programme

On the occasion of the participation of LIFE Xero-grazing at the First Congress of the International Land Conservation Network in Berlin, they were made a poster about the project in English and a prelimnary abstract video about the work already carried out. The official video will be available later this year, while a final video will be made to the final closure of the project. (Records Gianni Valente; editing by Silvano Previtali DVD Visual Communication)


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Calcareous walls in Orrido di Foresto- Val di SusaThe purpose of the LIFE Xero-grazing project (Semi-natural dry-grassland conservation and restoration in Valle Susa through grazing management) is the conservation and the restoration of priority habitat 6210*, seminatural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (important orchid sites), within a representative pastoral area of the SCI IT1110030 “Oasi xerotermiche della Valle di Susa - Orrido di Chianocco e Foresto. Today, it is affected by changes in the floristic composition and progressive invasion of trees and shrubs due to the absence of its use, for decades.

Within the SCI, this habitat is extremely significant due to the extent and the richness of orchids and the rare, steno-Mediterranean species. These grasslands in part, are already degraded because in the last decades land abandonment has produced a marked change in its floristic composition coupled with a dramatic encroachment by shrubs and trees.

The habitat 6210 * problems and threats to the conservation in the SCI are:

-Abandonment: the traditional agro-pastoral activities have been affected in recent decades by a progressive reduction in frequency and intensity. The shrinking number of resident companies and the exclusion of the area from the historical paths of transhumance flocks have contributed to a widespread abandonment of the area, which consequently has caused changes in the floristic composition of grasslands.

-Fire: Bassa Valle di Susa is considered to be an area at high risk for fire. In the SCI, the risk is accentuated by the large amount of dry ground phytomass and widespread shrub invasion - the consequences of the absence of agro-pastoral use.

-Unauthorized access of motor vehicles: In certain areas of the SCI, a problem with degradation of service roads to the areas of intervention exists, due to unauthorized access from motor vehicles.

-Changes of intended land use: land use changes within the SCI may be considered minimal, because the type of area and the territorial policies.

Project objectives:

The project aims to technically define and implement actions for the conservation and restoration of significant portions of the habitat. As a result, the project will be able to produce technical notes that the Alpi Cozie Natural Park (and other SCI areas) could apply to ensure a sustainable and long-term management of the habitat.

In particular, the project aims:

-To restore shrub and tree-encroached areas through actions of mechanical clearing and cutting. Even though the transition facies are included in the 6210 habitat, they can represent a threat for orchids;

-To define technical notes for a rational and conservative grazing management of the habitat and to apply them in particular areas (e.g. by buying domestic animals and arranging grazing structures);

-To develop the touristic and participative values of the area, increasing the awareness on the use of natural resources.

Through agro-pastoral character interventions, the project aims to restore about 20 hectares of 6210* habitat currently encroached by shrubs and trees as well as applying a conservative management to approximately 83 hectares of dry grassland.

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LIFE+is a financial instrument which supports environmental policy of the European Community. Adopted for the first time in 1992, LIFE + is divided into three main areas of action: Nature and Biodiversity, Environmental policies and government of territory, Communication and Information.

The program funds pilot projects and innovative actions, aimed at integrating issues of environmental protection with land planning and sustainable development. Grants are awarded to the best projects, particularly to those with highest practical content.

Within the framework of LIFE+ Nature, conservation actions are those "necessary to maintain or restore the natural habitats and the populations of species of wild fauna and flora at a favorable status." In practice, LIFE+ Nature contributes to the implementation of EC Directives "Birds" (79/409/EEC) and "Habitats" (92/43/EEC) and in particular, to the establishment of the European network of protected areas. NATURA 2000 – is designated to the management and preservation 'in situ' (in their natural environment) of species of fauna, flora and their habitats most valuable within the European Union.

Further information on LIFE+ can be gained by visiting the following websites:

Natura 2000 is the main instrument of EU policy used for conservation of biodiversity. It is an ecological network, spread throughout the territory of the Union, as established under Directive 92/43/EEC "Habitat" to ensure the long-term maintenance of natural habitats and species of flora and fauna threatened with extinction or existing at rare levels in the Community.

The areas included in the Natura 2000 network are not strictly protected reserves where human activities are excluded; the Habitats Directive aims to ensure the protection of nature whilst taking into account "economic, social and cultural requirements as well as regional and local characteristics" (Art . 2). Individuals and(or) private citizens can be owners of Natura 2000 sites, ensuring sustainable management both in terms of ecological and economical needs.

For further information on the italian Natura 2000 network refer to:

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D2. Monitoring of action effects on orchids and rare steno-Mediterranean species

Euphorbia exigua

The action D2 is in progress.

This aims to evaluate the effect of the actions, for recovery and conservation measures (e.g. clearing of individual tree species to help with colonizing and grazing - in spring and autumn) on the populations of orchids and rare steno-Mediterrany species existing in the areas of intervention.

The action of monitoring includes the creation of sampling assays, used in conjunction with the monitoring network defined in action A5, in order to compare the effect of the management with the pre-existing conditions. The assays will be carried out precisely with grounded, fixed metal poles and used in correspondence with the plot, pre-intervention, to confront any differences between the samples.

The data collected during the surveys will be developed each year, to allow an upgrade of the technical parameters of the guidelines for the management and to ensure the achievement of the goals of the project.

 News about the progress of the action D2:

 -10/04/2015- Actions D1 and D2 - The surveys for monitoring the effects of the concrete actions have begun

-12/07/2015 - The spring-summer surveys on the monitoring network (actions D1 and D2) are finished

-30/05/2016 – The work continues on permanent monitoring network

-14/04/2017- The spring reliefsstarted (D1 and D2 Action)



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