Aims

ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION OF CHANNELS

In territories characterized by the impoverishment of natural components in that they are intended primarily for agricultural use or pervaded by widespread urbanization, artificial canals play a significant role in the conservation of plant biodiversity by distributing water to the territory during the driest periods, offering shelter to many species and becoming an important support element in the network of ecological corridors and direct connection between different natural areas.

LIFE Green4Blue intends to improve the balance of all the functions that the network of artificial canals provides to the territory by increasing their function as ecological corridors, thus supporting biodiversity and the connection between the wetlands of the Natura 2000 Network.

In fact, integrated management of the territory will lead to an improvement in the ecosystem services offered by the humid environments of the plain, increasing its resilience and intrinsic value thanks to improvements in water quality provided by phytodepuration processes, the availability of indigenous aquatic plants permanently cultivated in nurseries and the development of new areas of protected habitat.

The interventions aimed at the regeneration of artificial canals include:

The creation of 9 stepping stones, precise regeneration interventions along the main connection canals between the Natura 2000 Network sites. Through the creation of new canal bed profiles and permanent pools for establishing aquatic vegetation, focus will be put on increasing the number of tree species and on evolution towards complex ecosystems that can attract predators of the most critical IAS in the plain, such as some species of Ardeidae.

Activities

The planning and construction of a plant nursery for the ex-situ conservation of indigenous lowland species and the propagation of species to be introduced into the stepping stones. These nursery plants are rapidly growing submerged and emergent aquatic plants, which can supplant the ruderal and invasive plants currently found in the intervention sites, and include declining species. The nursery, open to the public, supplies plants, on order, for phytoremediation processes, environmental restoration and aquariums.

Activities

Experimentation of new techniques for mowing and managing riparian vegetation along the canals to ensure better ecological connectivity and water quality.

Activities

CONTROL OF INVASIVE SPECIES

Alien (allochthonous) species are living animal or plant organisms introduced into habitats other than those of origin, due to changes in environmental conditions or due to direct introduction by man.

The consequences of their presence are, on the one hand, the consumption of resources destined for local (indigenous) species, i.e. those species that over the years have co-evolved with a specific habitat, respecting its characteristics and increasing the efficiency of use and on the other hand, an ability to become lethal competitors, contributing to a reduction in the level of biodiversity in the ecosystem and exposing it to situations of huge instability and imbalance.

In Italy, there are more than 3,000 alien species, an increase of 96% over the last 30 years, and LIFE GREEN4BLUE will carry out monitoring and control activities on two invasive species that have had a significant impact on the ecosystem of land reclamation canals.

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The coypu (Myocastor coypus), included in the IUCN list ‘100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species’ was introduced in Italy in 1928. Considered one of the 10 invasive alien species with the greatest impact on ecosystem services, it now lives in almost every Italian region with many populations actively expanding, and throughout the whole plain in Emilia-Romagna, where its presence has also been reported in the hilly and mountainous areas. There are at least 36,000 coypus in the Ferrara area.

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The Louisiana crawfish (Procambarus clarkii), a species introduced into Europe in 1973, is also included in the list of 100 worst invasive species. Present in almost all Italian regions, especially in the centre and centre-north, in Emilia-Romagna it is found in irrigation canals with water characterized by a maximum salinity of 2-3 PSU. However, the Louisiana crawfish is feared for its ability to adapt to even greater salinities, such as that of the already fragile lagoon ecosystems of the Po Delta.

Activities concerning these two species will focus on experimenting with an innovative model of demographic control.

To reduce the coypu population, a sterilization technique will be applied by administering an immunovaccine, to be adopted and widely used in urban contexts where suppression by killing to achieve containment is not always socially accepted.

Activities

To contain the Louisiana crawfish, 9 stepping stones will be created along the watercourses to encourage the settlement and breeding of some native species of Ardeidae that prey on the crawfish, thus naturally limiting their propagation.

Activities
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