General legislative issues
Q-1: How many protected areas are there in Italy? What percentage of Italy is protected?
- A: The Italian protected areas are more that 1.000 (the Official Registry of the Ministry of Environment, under revision, records 772 protected natural areas). In percentage terms they cover more that 11% of the surface of the Republic of Italy.
Q-2: What is the legislative situation for managing protected areas?
- A: The framework law on protected areas is no. 394, dated 6th December 1991, which outlines the fundamental principles for the institution and management of protected areas regarding their mission, classification and governance. It also sets out the legislation for national and regional protected natural areas.
Q-3: What are the various levels of protection afforded by Italian legislation?
- A: Law 394/91 classifies protected natural areas. The system is now classified as follows:
- National Parks: made up of land, river, lake and marine areas containing one or more ecosystem that is either intact or only partially degraded by human intervention, one or more physical, geological, geomorphological or biological formation of international or national importance on natural, scientific, aesthetic, cultural, educational and recreational grounds, such that it requires the intervention of the State in order to preserve it for present and future generations.
- Regional and interregional nature parks: made up of land, river, lake and sometimes coastal marine areas, of great natural and environmental value, forming a single system that may cross the boundaries between two or more administrative regions; its value may derive from the natural assets of the area, from the beauty of the landscape, and/or from the artistic and cultural traditions of the inhabitants.
- Nature reserves: made up of land, river, lake and marine areas containing one or more animal or plant species of conservation importance, or having one or more ecosystems of importance either for biodiversity or for the conservation of genetic resources. Nature reserves may be either state or regional according to the importance of the natural elements found within them.
- Wetlands of international importance: made up of areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, whose features may be considered as being of international importance for the purposes of the Ramsar Convention.
- Other protected natural areas include those not classified in the above categories (e.g. those belonging to environmental groups, suburban parks, etc.). They can be split into publicly-managed areas, i.e. those set up by regional laws or equivalent legal provisions, and privately-run areas, set up by formal public provisions or by contractual processes such as concessions or their equivalent.
- Land and marine potential park areas indicated by Laws 394/91 and 979/82, i.e. areas of conservation importance earmarked as top priority for inclusion as protected areas.
Q-4: What national authorities do protected areas come under?
- A: National parks and marine areas come under the auspices of the Italian Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea, while regional parks are run by the various regional administrations. There are also reserves which come under the auspices of the Italian Ministry for Agricultural Policy, and others which are run by provincial or municipal administrations and by private citizens.
It should be pointed out, however, that once a park has been created, it will be managed by an independent institution as a separate legal entity.
Q-5: How are protected areas funded? Do they have any self-funding mechanisms?
- A: Protected areas are funded by public sources managed by national and regional administrations.
Many parks have self-financing mechanisms, through the provision of tourist facilities, environmental education, and sales of craft products, etc.
Q-6: Who is in charge of running the various land and marine protected areas?
- A: According to the type of area, the management body for a protected area may be an independent public organisation, at a national or regional level, a consortium, a municipal administration or an association. Some of the management of marine parks is carried out by the Coastguard/Harbourmaster corps (known in Italian as Capitanerie di Porto). National Nature Reserves are still managed directly by the Forestry Corps, which comes under the aegis of the Agriculture Ministry, but the law requires them to be transferred at a future date to the Parks.
Q-7: What is the organisational structure of the staff working in protected areas?
- A: In general, with a few exceptions, the structure is as follows:
- Institutional Sector
- Scientific Service
- Administrative Sector
- Finance & Budgeting
- Book-keeping and Equity
- Public Relations
- Human Resources
- Plant Maintenance
Q-8: What planning tools do protected areas use?
- A: National parks draw up a Park Plan, as do some regional parks. Other regional parks draw up a Territorial Coordination Plan. These documents are approved by the management council and by the regional administration(s). National Parks also draw up a Social and Financial Long-term Strategic Plan (known in Italian as the Piano Pluriennale Economico e Sociale).
Park Regulations: approved by the management council and by the Italian Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea.
Q-9: How does the zoning system work in land and marine protected areas? What type of activities are allowed in each zone?
- A: Zoning involves dividing the territory of the Park into 4 different zones:
- Zone A: Strict Nature Reserve. No human activities allowed except for scientific research.
- Zone B: General Reserve. Only traditional occupations are allowed and tourism is overseen by the Park.
- Zone C: Planning of tourism and agrosilvopastoral systems authorised by the park.
- Zone D: Development. Includes built-up areas, potentially sustainable activities. Municipal Development Plans (known in Italian as Piani Regolatori).
Q-10: Is there any privately-owned land inside protected areas? How are they managed? Are there any compensation mechanisms? What are they?
- A: Yes, most of the land inside protected areas is privately owned. It is used for private activities, regulated by the park. The only reimbursements available are for damage caused by wild animals.
Q-11: Who is in charge of protection and surveillance in the land and marine protected areas? How is it organised?
- A: The Forestry Corps is responsible for control and surveillance in national parks. Regional parks and some national parks (Abruzzo and Gran Paradiso) have their own park rangers.
In marine areas, surveillance is carried out by the coastguards of the Capitanerie di Porto, together with municipal and national police forces (municipal police, Carabinieri, national police, customs and excise, etc.).
Q-12: What tools do parks use to communicate?
- A: Newsletters, magazines, brochures, events, publications, books, CDs, DVDs, press releases, periodicals, television, conferences and workshops. The biggest communications channel is the web, with a national portal as well as sites run by individual parks.
Q-13: What type of exploitation of natural resources is allowed in protected areas?
- A: Partial controlled exploitation. Partial cutting of woodland in Zone B. Regulated grazing is allowed. Forest fruits and other woodland products may be collected. In some cases, animals (e.g. wild boar) may be captured and sold under license for wildlife management purposes.
Q-14: What type of agriculture and grazing is allowed and encouraged in protected areas?
- A: Traditional non-intensive farming; quality non-intensive sheep and especially cattle rearing.
Q-15: How is tourism organised in Italys land and marine protected areas? Is there a sector-wide overall management plan?
- A: There is no overall plan each park can decide for itself, though there are guidelines governing nature-related tourism. Controlled sustainable tourism, run by the Park service department Private hotels.
Q-16: Are there any local development projects for entrepreneurs in land and marine protected areas? Who develops them and how?
- A: Some parks have developed projects, often with European funding. Most cover training and organisation of companies, as well as encouraging young people and women into entrepreneurship. There are many local co-operatives.
Protection and conservation issues
Q-17: Is there a national biodiversity management plan? And any regional plans?
- A: No, there are some incomplete regional initiatives. The National Biodiversity Management Plan is currently being drawn up.
Q-18: What type of projects do parks carry out for biodiversity management and to eradicate alien species? Do parks co-operate with each other in this sector?
- A: They are mainly research projects or management plans. There are some National Action Plans for a few important and rare species, as well as directives to parks and to other conservation agencies.
Parks often work together on projects, especially those with European Union funding (e.g. Life).
There are as yet no important projects for combating alien species, so each park manages such tasks on its own.
Q-19: How is hunting and shooting regulated in protected areas? And fishing?
- A: Hunting and shooting are forbidden in protected areas. There are a few exceptions, where hunting may be permitted as a tradition. In such cases, it is regulated in terms of hunting season, felling quotas, and game species.
In general, angling is permitted, except in strict nature reserves or along specific stretches of river.
Collaborative projects and international issues
Q-20: Are there any collaborative projects between the various parks? What type of projects are they?
- A: Yes, there are nationwide and European projects. For example, there are LIFE Projects, Interreg Projects, studies of particular animal or plant species (Bear, Chamois, Ibex, Griffon Vulture, etc.) both for population monitoring purposes and in order to understand their biology better, as well as reintroduction programmes. Many projects also encourage local development (e.g. local brands, services, projects funded by regional administrations).
Q-21: Are any of the Italian parks international or trans-frontier?
- A: From a legislative point of view, there are none. In reality, there are several (in some cases, efforts are being made to obtain official recognition). Maritime Alps Regional Park/Parc National du Mercantour, Gran Paradiso National Park/Parc National de la Vanoise, Stelvio National Park/Engadine Park, Tarvisio Nature Reserves/Triglav National Park, Carso International Park (proposed). In conjunction with France and the Principality of Monaco, Italy has set up the International Cetacean Sanctuary.
Final general questions
Q-22: What are the main problems facing Italian protected land areas? And the marine ones?
- A: Lack of legislative clarity, lack of financial resources, territorial institutional role not fully recognised. Lack of national co-ordination and support programmes.
As regards the marine areas, lack of a uniform management body and clear legislation; lack of meaningful relations with the land-based management bodies; lack of pre-defined resources.
Q-23: What is the main potential of land and marine protected areas for the present and future?
- A: Setting up of a strong efficient system. Conservation of outstanding biodiversity, using it for the promotion of compatible socio-economic activities. Local development, participation of inhabitants and democracy, civic and cultural growth, reclamation of territorial identity.