Italy’s central region of Umbria hosts transitional areas located between the Mediterranean and Continental biogeographical regions. These areas are rich in biodiversity and include many endemic species. Such diversity is reflected in the 104 SCI and SPAs located in the region, accounting for more than 15% of its land surface. However, the conservation status of key habitats is considered poor or seriously affected by human pressure, and priority species remain threatened by a variety of factors.
The goal of the SUN LIFE project was to prepare, on the basis of the Priority Action Frameworks (PAFs) approach, concrete and operational measures for the Natura 2000 network. The project aimed to achieve and maintain favourable conservation status of habitats and species by identifying targeted conservation measures and restoring ecological connectivity and functionality. It also aimed to identify possible sources of funding at European, national and regional level to ensure long-term benefits for Umbria’s Natura 2000 network.
The project SUN LIFE drafted basic documents for the management of the entire Umbria’s Natura 2000 network – i.e. the regional strategy for the period 2018-2028 and the financial plan for the period 2017-2023. These two documents were approved by the Region of Umbria, and administrative acts passed that make them are fully operative. Furthermore, the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) was updated for the period 2018-2020. The project will therefore have a potential direct impact on the regional policy of Natura 2000 network, establishing the framework of the management of the network for the coming 10 years. Furthermore, it set up a Natura 2000 group, bringing together the regional departments connected with the environment to ensure the continuation of the project objectives after the end of the project.
To support effective management, the project drew up and distributed two guidelines offering an overview of good practices. These illustrate the contribution that agriculture and forestry can make to biodiversity conservation. It also drew up a scientific monitoring plan, while providing a detailed analysis of the cost of managing the network in Umbria for the period 2007-2013. From this analysis a financial plan for the next period 2017-2023 could be put forward.
However, two traditional LIFE projects were proposed, instead of the two Integrated projects foreseen, and these were both rejected in the selection phase of the 2018 call for projects. The awareness and dissemination campaigns were carried out over a very short period (from April 2018 to June 2018), instead of during the whole period duration, and their effectiveness was thus diminished. Furthermore, the after-LIFE plan does not provide concrete assurance of the continuation of the implementation of the PAF and of the regional strategy of Natura 2000 network management, hence the long-term sustainability of the project results can be called into question.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).