Currently, the inland wetlands of northern Tuscany are experiencing a drastic loss in biodiversity and habitats, as a result of the impact of some invasive alien species. This situation has led, in recent years, to the extinction or rapid decline of several species of EU interest; and to the disappearance of once abundant vegetation formations, such as water lily and other formations associated with the Annex I habitat (Natural euthrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition-type vegetation). The latter is now confined to just a few small scattered sites.
The project’s overall objective is to improve the conservation status of the wetland habitats and species in four Natura 2000 network sites in northern Tuscany: Lago di Sibolla; Palude di Pardi; Bosco di Chiusi e Paduletta di Ramone; and Palude di Fucecchio. All the sites are seriously threatened by the presence of invasive alien species (fauna and flora). Specific project objectives are: Local eradication of Coypu (Myocastor coypus); Reduction or local eradication of populations of alien crayfish (Procambarus clarkia); Maintenance of the restored habitat, preserving original species and habitats; Improvement of the water quality of Lago di Sibolla (Lake Sibolla) via plant purification; Restoration of riverine habitats, preventing colonisation by the invasive shrub species, Amorpha fruticosa; Restoration of lowland forest habitats, which are very rare in Tuscany and on the Italian peninsula, and of the bordering woods of Quercus pubescens; Establishment of a buffer zone to protect lowland forests; Restoration of humid grasslands; and; The establishment of habitats for wetland plant and animal species through the creation of small ponds in woods.
Expected results: The main quantified expected results include: Local eradication or reduction of alien animal and plant species and consequent habitat maintenance; Improvement of the conservation status of endemic species; Improvement of habitat and site quality by restoring lowland, grassland and other habitats of EU interest; Reintroducing, where necessary, original, endangered species of EU interest; Improving a sewage treatment plant located close to Lake Sibolla; Building (long-term) capacity to control invasive alien species among the staff of the beneficiary; and Increased awareness among local people, associations and other stakeholders of the importance of controlling and removing invasive alien species