The area of the Palù del Quartier del Piave in the Veneto region of Italy is crossed by creeks coming from the peri-Alpine foothills. In the past, this intricate and extended hydrological network has been used for traditional agriculture based on a mosaic of small meadows. Each of these was bordered by hedges, allowing for the presence of numerous species of conservation important. Nowadays, habitat degradation and a general loss of biodiversity in the area is evident, caused by forestation, natural reforestation following the abandonment of agricultural land, a lack of maintenance of the extensive network of canals, and an increase in intensive agriculture causing an increase in fertilizers and pesticides in the soil and water. In 2001, the council of the Veneto region approved an environmental plan for the Palù del Quartier del Piave, to protect the Natura 2000 site.
The main objective of the LIFE PALU QdP project is to conserve characteristic habitats and species of the ‘Palù del Quartier del Piave’ Natura 2000 network site in the Veneto region of Italy, by reintroducing sustainable agroforestry and traditional meadow management practices.
The project aims to: Strengthen the presence of amphibian, reptile and butterfly species of conservation relevance, particularly Triturus carnifex and Rana latastei, two amphibians listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive, and the butterfly Hesperia comma; Increase population levels of the plant species Iris sibirica, Gentiana pneumonanthe, Succisa pratensis, Stellaria palustris and Carex brizoides; Develop and demonstrate agroforestry management models able to foster economic sustainability in the traditional Palù plots, and, at the same time, protect habitats, particularly ‘Lowland hay meadows’ and ‘Molinia meadows’ listed in the Habitats Directive, and their associated species; Demonstrate the efficacy of a participatory approach, based on ‘river contracts’ for the conservation of ecosystems; and Promote communications about the site’s natural and cultural heritage, and increase awareness of the Palù area and the Natura 2000 network.
Expected results: Purchase of approximately 3 ha of land for nature conservation; Restoration of traditional meadows on about 4 ha of public property in the Natura 2000 site, with an increase of at least 18 % in the total area of ‘Lowland hay meadows’ and ‘Molinia meadows’; Agreements with landowners based on the participatory approach (‘Palù contract’) for the restoration and conservation of the Natura 2000 site over at least 50 % of its area; Restoration and implementation of sustainable management models on 66 ha of private plots with a commitment signed by the owners with a validity for the next 20 years; Increase in number of places were Triturus carnifex, Rana latastei and Hesperia comma are present; Presence at the end of the project of at least 1 000 nuclei for seed dispersal of Iris sibirica, Gentiana pneumonanthe, Succisa pratensis, Stellaria palustris, Carex brizoides; Connectivity restored for about 10 km of canals; Dissemination of publications and organisation of workshops to promote the replicability of the project’s innovative participatory approach in other Natura 2000 sites in Italy; Transfer the ‘Palù contract’ model to the French context and start its implementation; Awareness raised about the site and Natura 2000 network through guided tours, restoration of walking trails and other project actions; and Improvement of the social and economic aspects connected with the use of the Palù, for example, resources obtained from agroforestry management used within the food and energy production chains triggered by the project.