Project Actions

To achieve improvement in the conservation status of the three target habitats (5130, 6210*, 6230*), the Life ShepForBio project proposes a number of specific actions.

A. Preparatory actions

Actions to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation actions by surveying the “ex-ante” conservation status of vascular flora and target habitats.

This Action has a twofold objective: on the one hand, to define the monitoring baseline for Action D1 (Target Habitat and Orchid Monitoring) necessary to assess the effects of the project actions, and on the other hand, the in-depth study of the conservation status of the three Habitats and their composition, especially for priority forms 6210 and 6230 in relation to the presence and distribution of orchid nuclei.

The objective of this action is to define the modalities of intervention for the implementation of Actions C1 and C2, the latter limited to the implementation of pastoral infrastructure. Another objective is to directly involve the main stakeholders in the area in the design of the interventions.

C. Concrete conservation actions

Actions involving the restoration of target habitats, the construction of pastoral infrastructure and the purchase of other equipment useful for grazing activities are planned. Other activities include drafting of pastoral plans, selecting breeders for pasture management, and providing technical assistance to the farms involved. Specific actions also concern the definition of a Tuscany Regional strategy to support mountain animal husbandry and the creation of an Italian school for shepherds and breeders to be promoted within a European network of pastoral schools.

Clearing and removing shrubs and forest vegetation are planned. The interventions will directly affect 79 of Habitat 6230*, 193 of 6210* and 73 ha of 5130 respectively. In SAC IT5180011, interventions are also planned to close paths caused by excessive trampling due to off-trail passage and restore the continuity of the grass sward. Interventions will also be made to restore the vegetation community of H6230* through the dissemination of local seeds.

The Action involves the construction from scratch or rehabilitation of trough, the realization of fences to protect the herds from wolfs, the removal of old fences and replacement with new ones. The objective of the Action is to create favourable conditions for grazing and animal management.

The drafting of Pastoral Plans provides a technical tool for defining objectives, tools and management best practices for pasture management, enabling compliance with specific conservation needs and the profitability of pastoral activities.

The Action includes promoting the project in the affected areas through meetings with local communities and the selection of farmers interested in managing the restored pastures. The selected farmers will be involved in a training phase on the objectives and actions of the project to optimize their possible involvement.

The objective of the action is to create a training school for new shepherds and breeders based on the model of European experiences. This school will provide theoretical and practical tools for starting a pastoral activity, with the ultimate goal of counteracting the criticality related to the low generational turnover present in the mountain pastoral and livestock world.

The goal of this action is to provide technical assistance to the farms involved in the project, both in the implementation of the Grazing Plans and in fostering the economic development of the farms themselves. Providing support to farms in addressing and solving the problem of coexistence with wolves through the proper use of guard dogs is specifically among the objectives of this action.

The objective of this action is to promote pastoralism as a tool for the conservation of grassland habitats to European institutions by promoting the exchange of best practices, training and information for shepherds and breeders, and the promotion of mountain livestock activities. The tools to achieve this goal will be a discussion forum with European pastoralism schools, the dissemination of project results at the European level, and the holding of three European conferences on biodiversity-pastoralism related issues.

The aim is to create the conditions for replication and dissemination of the good practices developed in the project, within a Tuscany regional Target Habitat Conservation Strategy. This Strategy will be implemented through activities to support mountain pastoralism using regional and European funds, recognizing grazing as a key biodiversity conservation role.

The purpose of this action is to increase at the European level the availability of good practice transfer tools in the field of open and grassland habitat management.

Concrete conservation interventions of Target Habitats will be implemented within 20 areas:

D. Monitoring the impact of project actions

Actions to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation actions by monitoring vascular flora, pasture quality, butterflies, grasshoppers and breeding birds, as well as analysing socioeconomic effects on territories.

The action involves an assessment of the effects of the project on the conservation status of the three project target habitats, focusing primarily on orchid stands in habitats 6210* and 6230*. Protocols for cost-effective post-project monitoring will be established.

The action includes an assessment of the effect of restoration and management interventions on the pastoral value of habitats. Data collected as part of the ante-operam surveys will be used to define restoration interventions (Az. A2) and pastoral plans (Az. C3).

The action plans to monitor the effect of interventions on the ecological functionality of habitats using some animal groups, such as butterflies, orthoptera and avifauna, as indicators.

Action D4 aims to quantify the effects of the project on local communities and the various stakeholders directly and indirectly involved in project implementation. The effects of the actions on the ecosystem functions of the areas affected by the project actions will also be assessed.

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

Actions including the development of a communication plan and its implementation to promote the project and disseminate best practices for pasture management.

Communication and dissemination aspects are of paramount importance in achieving the project’s objectives; therefore, the project will provide numerous tools for the promotion and dissemination of the planned activities, including a website, facebook profile, dedicated newsletters, notice boards, dissemination brochures in four languages, video clips and photographs. Networking with projects that have addressed issues related to grassland habitat management will also be set up. Promotion of the herder school will also take place through a specific communication campaign.

F. Project management

Project management actions and development of an After-Life plan.

There will be two main levels of project management: the first, organizational partnership level, where the overall coordination of the project is expressed and is the reference interface for the Commission; the second level, technical-scientific project committee, is operational and organizational and is responsible for the successful completion of the individual actions under the project.

The objective of the Action is to ensure, beyond the period of the project, a favourable conservation status of the restored habitats and continuity in the actions to promote pastoralism as a tool for biodiversity conservation.