Project

The LIFE Alta Murgia project – LIFE12 BIO/IT/000213, with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, lasts 4 years and its main objective is to eradicate the invasive exotic tree species Ailanthus altissima from the Alta Murgia National Park using innovative and environmentally friendly techniques.

Target plant

ailantoThe invasive alien plant species (IAS), Ailanthus altissima commonly known as Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus, is one of the most harmful and widespread invasive woody species in Europe. It reaches the heart of protected areas and spreads across the natural environment rapidly and spontaneously, producing reproductive offspring in very large numbers. In recent years, the species has spread and multiplied at a rapid rate in Italy.

Project area: Alta Murgia National Park

SCI/SPA The Alta Murgia National Park, created by Italian Presidential Decree on March 10, 2004 and located in the South of the Apulia region (Italy), is a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) within the EU Natura 2000 network. Inside the Park, A. altissima has given rise to changes in ecosystem structures and has been replacing and altering native plant communities of considerable conservation value, causing natural habitat loss and degradation.

Objectives

The project aims to reduce losses and safeguard biodiversity by eradicating the invasive alien plant species A. altissima from the Alta Murgia National Park using innovative techniques with low environmental impact.

Achieved results

  • Eradication the invasive alien plant species A. altissima from the Alta Murgia National Park using innovative techniques with low environmental impact;
  • Improvement in the conservation status of the EU’s most important natural habitats and of wild species in the Alta Murgia National Park, threatened by the proliferation of Ailanthus;
  • Innovative, eco-friendly and sustainable chemical strategy to control A. altissima that has increased efficacy and minimized herbicide use, thus reducing the risks for the environment and human health;
  • Census and mapping of the presence of A. altissima in the park;
  • Sensitization the local population and stakeholders about biodiversity and invasive alien species;
  • Dissemination of the project results through the website, seminars and conferences, information brochures, video and scientific publications.

Themes: Life + Biodiversity

The LIFE + Program is a financial instrument created by the European Commission with the aim of offering specific support at Community level for the conservation and protection of the environment, nature and biodiversity. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 4,000 projects, thus contributing to environmental protection. Its Biodiversity component co-funds projects that help implement the objectives of the Commission Communication on “Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 – and beyond”.

Coordinator:
CNR, ISPA – Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Bari (www.ispa.cnr.it)

Partners:
State Forestry Corps, Regional Coordination Unit for the Environment (www.corpoforestale.it)
ALTA MURGIA National Park (www.parcoaltamurgia.it)
ARIF – Regional Irrigation and Forestry Agency (www.arifpuglia.it)

Duration of project:  October 1, 2013 – December 31, 2019
Total budget  euro: 1,757,000
EC contribution  euro with %: 832,104.00 (47.34%)

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