Using SEED banks to restore and reinFORCE the endangered native plants of Italy

Reference: LIFE20 NAT/IT/001468 | Acronym: LIFE SEEDFORCE



Monitoring and conserving habitats and species listed in the Annexes of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) is a mandatory action for each Member State. Italy is home to a high number of vascular plants of Union interest (currently 104 taxa included in Annexes II, IV & V), making Italy the third Member State as per richness after Spain and Portugal. Annex II currently lists 84 species for Italy, mainly present in the Alpine and the Mediterranean biogeographical regions, with a high rate of endemism (over 60%). However, the last Art. 17 Report showed a negative trend for 58 Annex II species (69%) that have been reported with ‘Unfavourable’ conservation status, confirming the results of the latest IUCN assessments. The efforts undertaken in Italy over the last 20 years proved insufficient to grant to these taxa a ‘Favourable’ conservation status. Extinction risks for endemic plants include human-induced habitat modifications, especially the abandonment of traditional agricultural/land-use practices (e.g. discontinued coppicing and haymaking) and overgrazing, and also the spread of invasive alien species and high-impact recreational activities and tourism. Intrinsic factors also have a significant role to play for species that are naturally scarce and distributed in a limited number of small, fragmented populations. Significant efforts are still necessary to achieve the Habitats Directive targets in terms of long-term plant conservation.


The main goal of the LIFE SEEDFORCE project is to improve the conservation status of 29 EU Habitats Directive Annex II species with an ‘Unfavourable-Inadequate’ (19) or ‘Unfavourable-Bad’ (10) conservation status, according to the Art. 17 reporting.  An integrated ex situ/in situ approach will be undertaken to remove the threats that these 29 species are facing, aiming at improving the quality of both habitats and populations in 76 Natura 2000 network sites (SCI/SACs) where these species grow or have recently disappeared. The project target species are: *Astragalus verrucosus, *Bassia saxicola, *Campanula sabatia, *Cytisus aeolicus, *Galium litorale, *Limonium strictissimum, *Linum muelleri, *Ribes sardoum, *Silene hicesiae, Adenophora liliifolia, Botrychium simplex,  Centranthus amazonum, Crepis pusilla, Dracocephalum austriacum, Elatine gussonei, Eleocharis carniolica, Eryngium alpinum, Gentiana ligustica, Gladiolus palustris, Himantoglossum adriaticum, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos, Leucojum nicaeensis, Linaria flava, Linaria pseudolaxiflora, Liparis loeselii, Marsilea quadrifolia, Primula palinuri, Saxifraga tombeanensisand Woodwardia radicans.

Regarding habitat-related impacts, LIFE SEEDFORCE aims to mitigate and/or remove threats by:

  • Controlling re-vegetation, removing shrubs and trees, and cutting grass;
  • Protecting the sites from overgrazing and trampling with relevant fencing;
  • Eradicating invasive alien species according to the currently accepted best practices.

-     For intrinsic threats related to small and fragmented populations, the project team will increase population size with a carefully selected genotype mix that will mimic natural gene flow (usually blocked by isolation), reducing plant isolation and  habitat fragmentation. The project team will also manage each site to sustain a viable population of the target species, increasing the number of individuals and removing threats. This will give each target species better resilience to future challenges, ultimately improving their conservation status.

The project’s objectives are in line with the EU Habitats Directive, the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species, Farm to Fork Strategy, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the EU Pollinators initiative.


Expected results:

  • Improved conservation status of habitats in the 76 Natura 2000 sites (SCI/SACs) selected, covering 450 250 ha, ensuring that each site can support a viable population of the target species, by means of fencing, cutting grass, removing shrubs and trees, eradicating alien invasive species, as appropriate, adopting international standards;
  • Collection of target species germplasm, without affecting the natural reproductive potential of the donor population, and its storage for long-term conservation;
  • Propagation of target species, producing at least 50 000 individuals, making use of the facilities at each partner's site, including seed germination labs and nurseries;
  • (Re)introduce/reinforce 139 populations of the 29 target species, in the target 76 Natura 2000 sites;
  • Monitor and maintain in each Natura 2000 site optimal conditions for the survival of the translocated material in partnership with the managing authorities;
  • Deliver, in partnership with ISPRA (technical services of the Ministry of the Ecological Transition), guidelines and training for the management of each Natura 2000 site, to grant favourable conditions for the long-term survival of each target species; and
  • Develop long-term agreements with the managing authorities of the 76 SCI/SACs, to guarantee the long-term survival of each target species.


Reference: LIFE20 NAT/IT/001468
Start Date: 01/10/2021
End Date: 31/12/2026
Total Budget: 7,790,685 €
EU Contribution: 4,671,420 €
Project Location:


Coordinating Beneficiary: Museo delle Scienze
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Corso del lavoro e della scienza, 3, 38122, Trento, Italia
Contact Person: Costantino Bonomi
Tel: 393209224758

LIFE Project Map



  • Awareness raising - Information
  • Improved legislative compliance and enforcement
  • Plants
  • Bogs and Mires
  • Coastal
  • Forests
  • Freshwater
  • Grasslands
  • Rocky and Caves
  • Heath and Scrublands
  • Soil and landscape protection
  • Sensitive and protected areas management


  • freshwater ecosystem
  • grassland ecosystem
  • landscape protection
  • public awareness campaign
  • coastal area
  • forest
  • sensitive area


  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • Regulation 1143/2014 - Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (22.10.2014)


  • Cytisus aeolicus
  • Woodwardia radicans
  • Saxifraga tombeanensis
  • Primula palinuri
  • Marsilea quadrifolia
  • Liparis loeselii
  • Linaria pseudolaxiflora
  • Linaria flava
  • Leucojum nicaeense
  • Kosteletzkya pentacarpos
  • Himantoglossum adriaticum
  • Gladiolus palustris
  • Gentiana ligustica
  • Eryngium alpinum
  • Eleocharis carniolica
  • Elatine gussonei
  • Dracocephalum austriacum
  • Crepis pusilla
  • Botrychium simplex
  • Silene hicesiae
  • Ribes sardoum
  • Linum muelleri
  • Campanula sabatia
  • Galium litorale
  • Astragalus verrucosus
  • Bassia saxicola
  • Limonium strictissimum
  • Centranthus trinervis


Type Code Name
SCI IT1315407 Monte Ceppo
SCI SI3000119 Porezen
SPA IT2070402 Alto Garda Bresciano
SPA IT3120093 Crinale Pichea - Rocchetta
SCI FR9301568 Corniches de la Rivièra
SCI ITA090002 Vendicari
SPA ITA090013 Saline di Priolo
SCI IT7110205 Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo
SCI SI3000079 Češeniške gmajne z Rovščico
SCI IT3120170 Monte Barco - Le Grave
SCI IT1315717 Monte Grammondo - Torrente Bevera
SCI IT3330007 Cavana di Monfalcone
SPA IT3120038 Inghiaie
SCI IT3120040 Lago Pudro
SCI IT3120081 Pra dall'Albi - Cei
SCI IT3120116 Monte Malachin
SPA IT3250003 Penisola del Cavallino: biotopi litoranei
SCI IT3320012 Prealpi Giulie Settentrionali
SCI IT7140203 Maiella
SPA IT8050045 Sorgenti del Vallone delle Ferriere di Amalfi
SPA IT3321002 Alpi Giulie
SPA ITA090029 Pantani della Sicilia sud-orientale, Morghella, di Marzamemi, di Punta Pilieri e Vendicari
SPA IT3120094 Alpe di Storo e Bondone
SCI IT1315313 Gouta - Testa d'Alpe - Valle Barbaira
SPA IT4060005 Sacca di Goro, Po di Goro, Valle Dindona, Foce del Po di Volano
SCI IT2070021 Valvestino
SCI IT3120068 Fiave'
SCI ITA010011 Sistema dunale Capo Granitola, Porto Palo e Foce del Belice
SCI ITA030010 Fiume Fiumedinisi, Monte Scuderi
SCI SI3000089 Pragersko - marsiljka
SPA IT2030301 Monte Barro
SCI FR9301567 Vallée du Carei - collines de Castillon
SCI IT2020002 Sasso Malascarpa
SCI IT3120127 Monti Tremalzo e Tombea
SCI ITA030027 Isola di Vulcano
SCI ITA090012 Grotta Palombara
SPA ITB022212 Supramonte di Oliena, Orgosolo e Urzulei - Su Sercone
SCI IT8030008 Dorsale dei Monti Lattari
SPA IT8050008 Capo Palinuro
SCI IT8050011 Fascia interna di Costa degli Infreschi e della Masseta
SPA IT4060015 Bosco della Mesola, Bosco Panfilia, Bosco di Santa Giustina, Valle Falce, La Goara
SCI SI3000113 Podvinci
SCI SI3000181 Kum
SCI SI3000232 Notranjski trikotnik
SCI SI3000257 Rački ribniki - Požeg
SCI IT3120089 Montepiano - Palu' di Fornace
SCI ITB041111 Monte Linas - Marganai
SCI IT1324896 Lerrone - Valloni
SCI SI3000196 Breginjski Stol
SCI SI3000263 Kočevsko
SPA IT3321001 Alpi Carniche
SPA ITA030042 Monti Peloritani, Dorsale Curcuraci, Antennamare e area marina dello stretto di Messina
SCI FR9301563 Brec d'Utelle
SCI IT1316118 Capo Mortola
SCI IT1323202 Isola Bergeggi - Punta Predani
SCI IT2030003 Monte Barro
SCI IT2030005 Palude di Brivio
SCI IT3120104 Monte Baldo - Cima Valdritta
SCI IT3120110 Terlago
SCI ITA030025 Isola di Panarea e Scogli Viciniori
SCI ITA090008 Capo Murro di Porco, Penisola della Maddalena e Grotta Pellegrino
SCI ITB032229 Is Arenas S'Acqua e S'Ollastu
SCI IT3120173 Monte Baldo di Brentonico
SPA IT3230083 Dolomiti Feltrine e Bellunesi
SPA ITA040013 Arcipelago delle Pelagie - area marina e terrestre
SCI ITA030030 Isola di Lipari
SPA ITB010008 Arcipelago La Maddalena
SCI SI3000100 Gozd Kranj - Škofja Loka
SCI SI3000171 Radensko polje - Viršnica
SPA IT2020301 Triangolo Lariano
SPA ITA030044 Arcipelago delle Eolie - area marina e terrestre
SCI IT2050002 Boschi delle Groane
SCI IT3120091 Albere' di Tenna
SCI IT3120114 Monte Zugna
SCI IT3320003 Creta di Aip e Sella di Lanza
SCI IT3320026 Risorgive dello Stella
SCI ITB040022 Stagno di Molentargius e territori limitrofi
SCI MT0000024 Rdumijiet ta' Malta: Ir-Ramla tac-Cirkewwa sal-Ponta ta' Benghisa
SCI SI3000080 Medvedce


Name Type
CBNMed(Conservatoire botanique national méditerranéen de Porquerolles), France Participant
UNIUD(Università di Udine), Italy Participant
UNIPD(Centro di Ateneo Orto Botanico dell'Università di Padova), Italy Participant
PNM(Ente Parco Nazionale della Majella), Italy Participant
UNICT(Università degli Studi di Catania), Italy Participant
BGR-DEB(Dipartimento di Biologia Ambientale - Sapienza Università di Roma), Italy Participant
UNICA(Università degli Studi di Cagliari), Italy Participant
CFA-LSB(Parco Monte Barro), Italy Participant
UNIGE(Università degli Studi di Genova), Italy Participant
UNIPA(Università degli Studi di Palermo), Italy Participant
UNITUS(Università degli Studi della Tuscia - Dipartimento dei Scienze Ecologiche e Biologiche), Italy Participant
LEGAMB(Legambiente ONLUS), Italy Participant
UM(Universita' ta' Malta), Malta Participant
UL-BF(University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Botanic garden), Slovenia Participant
Museo delle Scienze Coordinator