Started in 2009, biodiversity network - ecological corridors to protect biodiversity has been a project for the protection of the natural environment and wildlife in the province of Varese spearheaded by a partnership formed by the Varese Provincial Administration, the Lombardy Regional Administration and LIPU (Italian society for the protection of birds).
The project’s main goals have been as follows:
- creating ecological corridors between protected natural areas;
- identifying and pilot-testing appropriate policies and operational mechanisms for the implementation of needed conservation actions;
- raising awareness among the population and policymakers of the importance of ecological networks for the protection of biodiversity and the need to include them in local planning.
The project was carried out in different steps and was completed in 2018.
The preparation of a feasibility study was the first step, and led to the identification of two ecological corridors (see map), which connect the Campo dei Fiori Park and the Ticino Valley Park and pass through Lake Varese, Brabbia Marshes, Lake Biandronno and Lake Comabbio. In-depth analyses of the areas and their habitats were carried out for each ecological corridor (see reports and factsheets).
By putting their signature onto a Network Agreement setting forth their commitments with respect to the creation, management and governance of the ecological corridors, local authorities have pledged to protect the portion of the ecological corridors, and its biodiversity, in their respective jurisdiction. That agreement marked the culmination of a process of proactive engagement by the Varese Provincial Administration, the Campo dei Fiori and Ticino Valley Park leadership together with 50 municipal governments, with the backing of the Lombardy Regional Administration.
The March 2012 conference titled “Vive solo chi si muove (only if free to move they will survive) – ecological networks for the preservation of biodiversity: a debate with scientists, policy-makers and citizens” has been one of the highlights among the events held to inform about the project and its goals and provided also the occasion to present a scientific publication on the project’s approach.
Step two of the project featured the implementation of most of the actions identified via the feasibility study conducted in step one, especially reduction of fragmentation and other habitat conservation work. The Varese Provincial Administration (as lead organization), together with the Lombardy Regional Administration and LIPU (as partners), and Fondazione Cariplo (as co-funder) applied for EU funding under the 2010 LIFE program with their project titled Life+ Natura “TIB – Trans Insubria Bionet - Habitat connection and improvement along the Insubria ecological corridor between the Alps and the Ticino Valley”. The project was positively judged by the European Commission and received a substantial EU grant of 1.5 million euros (roughly half of the amount of total project costs), which has helped to preserve and capitalize on 59 kilometers of green routes that the local municipal administrations have pledged to protect including by avoiding any development that may impair their environmental value.
On May 23, 2016, TIB received the Best LIFE Project of 2016 Award, and also competed for the “Best of the best LIFE project award” (https://www.fondazionecariplo.it/it/news/ambiente/il-progetto-life-tib-premiato-come-best-life-2016-dalla-commissione-europea.html ).
Project documents can be downloaded from the Varese provincial administration website