This group of actions include all those activities aiming at disseminating to a wide audience the project issues, results and lesson learnt. That is realized through the organization of public information meetings, seminars, practical field demonstration and guided visits, through congress participation and scientific publications, through website, leaflets, booklets, notice boards and media works. A layman’s report will be presented at the end of the project.
At the start of the project the domain was acquired and the design of the official site “LIFE Alta Murgia” was commissioned. The web site is in both Italian and English and includes sections with one or more sub pages (Homepage, Project, Stocks, Partner, News, Documents, Events, Gallery, Media, Link). The home page includes a project summary, while the other pages are devoted to basic issues (biodiversity and invasive species, target species), area of intervention, objectives, expected results, activities and partners. Sections dedicated to “Events”, “News”, “Media” and “Links” are included as useful additions to the site. In addition, all documents produced within the framework of various activities, some of which aimed at the dissemination of results and user awareness, can be downloaded from the “Documents”. A “Gallery” includes a number of images of the park, the target species, the infested areas, the events and the activities carried out. The site is continually updated.
Kick off meeting, seminars and public information meetings
Within the framework of this activity, five public events have been planned: The opening conference, two educational seminars and two conferences on the project results. Overall, all events have had the aim to enhance and disseminate the project results and to sensitize the wider public on the issues of biodiversity and invasive alien species. The events have been directed mainly to the local population, students, media, technicians and professionals, business owners and land, etc.
Among the main events held there are the opening meeting, 13 informative seminars and 3 conferences on the intermediate results of the project. The project’s opening meeting took place on December 3th, 2013, at the headquarters of Alta Murgia National Park. To promote the event press releases were given and a poster in A3 and A2 was made, while during the event a poster dedicated to the project was exhibited. The public event was attended by all managers and employees of the 4 partner institutions and many participants. The objective of the meeting was to focus on the Project LIFE Alta Murgia and its contents: objectives, planned activities, partnerships, etc.
On February 25, 2014, a seminar entitled “IAS I KNOW – The impact of exotic invasive alien species on nature” took place. The event was designed for Italian and foreign high-school students interested in studying invasive alien species. During the morning, an excursion into the park illustrated the characteristics of the protected area and some of the sites infested by Ailanthus. In the afternoon, a seminar, attended by all the leaders of the Park, researchers from ISPA, 80 high school students, two school leaders, 10 Italian and 13 foreign university lecturers took place at the Park Headquarters in Gravina in Puglia.
Three training days on “Technical control of Ailanthus altissima in the Alta Murgia National Park” were held. During the seminars, the project content and objectives, the plant’s characteristics, the environmentally-friendly control strategy and the results of Ailanthus control in the Park were illustrated. All seminars were followed by a practical demonstration of Ailanthus eradication in the field.
The days were attended by a large number of technical experts, agronomists, graduates in Forestry Science, agricultural entrepreneurs and farmers, owners of infested areas, Park management, Italian Research Council researchers, as well as employees from ARIF and the State Forestry Corps. The results from the first year of the project were illustrated at two open meetings held on March 11 and 17, 2015 at the Alta Murgia National Park premises, the first in Gravina in Puglia and the second in Ruvo di Puglia. The events were designed for all project partners, Puglia regional administrators, representatives of Municipalities and the press.
The partners of the Life + project “Alta Murgia” participated, on September 23, 2016 at the Rurality Festival with a report titled “Biodiversity Protection by the control of alien species”. The seminar was attended by secondary school students.
On May 4, 2017, the project partners met secondary school students for a seminary on “Protection of Alta Murgia Park biodiversity”. The seminar aimed to deepen the knowledge of the Park and its biodiversity.
On May 26, 2017 a Seminar on “Managing invasive alien plants” was held. The seminar was attended by engineers, architects and agronomists of “Regione Puglia” and Municipalities belonging to the Park area.
To publicize the activities being carried out under the project and to promote understanding of related issues, two brochures have been published. The first brochure, on the project’s central issues, is illustrated and contains a summary of the partners, budget, LIFE + Biodiversity policy together with a description of the Park, the issue of biodiversity, the principal objectives, as well as the activity schedule and results expected.
The second brochure is on Ailanthus management and acts as a guideline to follow when seeking to control the plant. It introduces the Alta Murgia LIFE projectand describes how the characteristics of invasive species lead to a loss of biodiversity. The brochure contains a large number of pictures to help recognize the species and management guidelines to follow to help prevent the spread of the infestation. The various treatments are described and supported by illustrations. A total of 5000 brochures were printed on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper, half in Italian and half in English. They are available at Park headquarters. The first brochure was handed out at the two public events organized as part of the project and also to all business owners in the Park.
Boards and signposts
In order to disseminate and promote the content of the project and all matters related thereto, two types of explanatory panels were printed. One, measuring 100 cm × 140 cm, contains all the important information, such as duration of the project, budget, partners, objectives, activities, expected results, while the smaller one, 70 cm × 100 cm, is well-illustrated, with pictures to illustrate the characteristics of the Park as well as of the species that is threatening the biodiversity (i.e. the Tree of Heaven). Further, 20 cm × 30 cm plates were prepared to be exhibited at the entrance of the partner organizations, and a poster was prepared and exhibited during the two public events as well as during official meetings. The plates and boards were produced in multiple copies in order to be displayed at the headquarters of partners and all CFS commands Stations.
International Congress “Management and conservation of dry grasslands in natura 2000 sites” Rome, Italy, March 26-27, 2015 “Presenza di Ailanthus altissima nel Parco dell’Alta Murgia: risultati della mappatura eseguita nell’ambito del Progetto Life+ Alta Murgia”.
International Congress “17th European Weed Research Society Symposium” EWRS 2015, “Weed management in changing environments Montpellier, France, June 23-26, 2015 “Control of Ailanthus altissima in a natural environment” .
International Congress “7th International Weed Science Congress”. “Weed science and management to feed the planet “ “Restoration of areas infestated by Ailanthus altissima in the Alta Murgia National Park: Experience within a Life project“. Praga, June 19- 25, 2016
“Conservazione e ripristino di habitat e specie nel Parco Naturale Regionale Bosco Incoronata” – LIFE Bosco Incoronata (LIFE09/NAT/IT/000149) final Congress. December 19, 2016.
Platform Meeting sulle Specie Aliene Invasive (IAS). Milan November 29-30, 2017 “Controllo di Ailanthus altissima: esperienze nell’ambito del progetto LIFE Alta Murgia”.
“XV International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds”, Engelberg, August 26‐31, 2018:
- Mathematical tools for controlling invasive species in Protected Areas. Book of abstracts “Mathematical approach to climate change impacts – INdAM Workshop 2017”, Rome, March 13-17, 2017, p 20
- Hypersensitive Optimal Control of Invasive Species. Book of abstracts “11th International Society for Analysis, Applications and Computation – ISAAC Congress”, Vaxjo, Sweden, August 14-18, 2017, p. 11
- Optimal spatio-temporal control of Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle in the Alta Murgia National Park. Book of abstracts “MPDEE’18 International Conference of Models in Population Dynamics, Ecology and Evolution”. Leicester, England, April 9-13, 2018, p. 85
- Optimal spatio-temporal control of invasive plant in protected areas. Book of abstracts “10th Workshop Structural Dynamical Systems: Computational Aspects – SDS2018”, Monopoli (BA), Italy, June 12-15, 2018, p.40.
Marangi C., Casella F., Diele F., Lacitignola D., Martiradonna A., Provenzale A., Ragni S. Mathematical tools for controlling invasive species in Protected Areas. In: Mathematical Approaches to Climate Change and its Impacts. Springer INdAM Series. Editors: P. Cannarsa, D. Mansutti and A. Provenzale. Springer Edition. In press.
Tarantino C., Casella F., Adamo M., Lucas R., Beierkuhnlein C., Blonda P., 2019. Ailanthus altissima mapping from multi-temporal very high resolution satellite images. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Vol. 147(1): 90-103
Casella F. and Vurro M., 2014. Eradicazione di Ailanthus altissima nel Parco Nazionale dell’Alta Murgia: un Progetto europeo. Silvae – National Forest Service Journal. November 2014
Casella F. and Vurro M., 2013. Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven): spread and harmfulness in a case-study urban area. Arboricultural Journal: The International Journal of Urban Forestry, Vol. 35(3): 172–181
Booklet on “Autochthon Flora autoctona and allochthon Flora from The Alta Murgia National Park” has been pubblicated in 1200 copies in Italian and 500 in English. This booklet has been designed to explain the main plant species in different habitats of language the Alta Murgia National Park, highlighting the difference between native and non-native ones. Among the non-native species we report the main invasive ones that pose a threat to the Park’s biodiversity and the main naturalized non-invasive species. The main objective is to inform and sensitize a wide public on the issues of invasive alien species and biodiversity conservation.
A second booklet entitled “Guidelines for the sustainable management of invasive tree species in natural areas” has published more recently and translated into the corresponding English version. The volume deals with the biological invasions of plant alien species, in particular of ailanthus and describes in detail the eco-compatible control techniques that can be used for the invasive tree species control
To inform, educate and sensitize the widest possible audience, articles in the local press, interviews on radio and TV channels, videos and documentaries have been produced within the project communications through the media. At the start of the project, articles in local online newspapers appeared. The news on funding and initiation of the project were disseminated through press releases on the official website of the Park. At the initial meeting a noted television station broadcasted a television service dedicated to the event. The project also includes an interview with the project coordinator.
Within the project, a video entitled “Ailanthus a threat to biodiversity“on the problem of the Ailanthus altissima spread and damage in the Alta Murgia Park has been realized. The video describes the Park and its beautiful habitats, the aims and activities of the project, the operating methods used for ailanthus eradication. The video was produced, with the financial support of the European Commission, both in Italian and subtitled in English.
The project final conference on “Invasive alien plant species: impact and management” took place on December 17, 2019 at the Agraria University in Bari.