Field trip to Italy

Several representatives of the LIFE Oreka Mendian project went on a field trip to the north of Italy. The following specific projects were visited:

LIFE XeroGrazing

    The objective of the LIFE Xero-grazing project (Semi-natural dry-grassland conservation and restoration in Valle Susa through grazing management) is to conserve and recover priority habitat 6210* in the ZEC “Oasi xerotermiche della Valle di Susa-Orrido di Chianocco e Foresto”, which is currently affected by changes to plant diversity and the gradual invasion of trees and bushes caused by a several decade-long lack of use. In addition, there is a risk of fire, vehicle access in certain parts and changes in land use.
    The project is focused on the conservation of 83 hectares of semi-natural dry-grassland located in south-facing terraced hillsides in Valle Susa.
    For this, they have carried out clearing and cutting, provided equipment in the area to support the management of livestock (closures, fixed and mobile water points, and pens with a mobile electronic shepherd) and reached an agreement with a local livestock farmer to introduce a herd of 150 sheep (raised for meat).
    In October 2017 there was a fire that affected the scope of the project. The project was extended for a year to monitor its effects, ending in June 2019n.

PastorAlp

    LIFE PastorAlp is a project related to climate change, coordinated by the University of Florence and involving other Italian and French partners coming from research, institutional and management areas. The project began on 1 October 2017 and will end on 30 March 2022.
    As one of the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change and human disturbances, Alpine permanent grasslands have been identified as hotspots of climate and land-use changes. The LIFE project PASTORALP combines biophysical and socio-economic approaches to address the vulnerability of Alpine pastures and provides a better capacity to reduce them.
    The project relies on a solid science-based knowledge of baseline conditions of Alpine pastoral communities and projected impacts of future climate changes on these communities. It is focused on two national parks representative of West’s Alpine environments: Parc National Des Ecrins (France) and Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (Italy). Stakeholder consultation and engagement will be a core element of the project work plan.
    The final output will be the deployment of platform tools facilitating the adoption of adaptation strategies in the two parks, aligned with the objectives of the ‘Climate change adaptation priority area’ of the EU. The strategies and tools developed in this work could be easily exploited in other pastoral areas across the Western Alps.

The visit, which involved representatives of the Provincial Councils of Álava and Gipuzkoa, CEN Aquitania, Euskal Herriko Laborantza Ganbara, Ihobe and the HAZI foundation, took place on 8 and 9 October. The result is the establishing of contacts between the three projects involved and the generation of exchanges, highlights of which include vegetation management strategies, automated modelling and learning techniques, as well as tools to optimise the interpretation of data from remote sensors.

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