The Project

The LIFE P.A.R.C. wants to improve the state of conservation of Petromyzon marinus, Alosa fallax, Leuciscus souffia, Rutilus rubilio, Barbus plebejus by restoring the fluvial and ecological continuity of the Magra and Vara rivers and increasing awareness among the local populations.

Recent studies carried out in the SCI IT1343502 Magra-Vara Park illustrate that this site contains the only Italian rivers where the successful reproduction of the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) has been ascertained, that is, the Magra and Vara rivers. Moreover, these rivers host other migratory fish species (both diadromus, and those migrating during the reproductive period within the basin) of a community interest: Alosa fallax (1103), Leuciscus souffia (1131), Rutilus rubilio (1136), Barbus plebejus.
Currently, the stretches of river suitable for the discharge of the reproductive cycle of the lampreys and other species are scarcely accessible because of the presence of some artificial obstructions, made up of check dams of boulders built in the past that interrupt the natural continuity of the river. The presence of these obstructions provokes a fragmentation of the populations with an absolute impossibility for the animals to migrate when the river is low.

Moreover, the presence of the obstructions also provokes an objective difficulty for the species to reach the sites suitable for reproduction, thus obliging them to arrange reproductive sites in river areas that are not suitable for the development of eggs, thus provoking a numerical reduction of the abovementioned fish populations. Creating passages for fish along the identified critical obstructions will significantly foster longitudinal movements of the fish populations irrespective of the river level, thus enabling them to reach natural reproduction zones (situated in middle-higher up part of the basin). This would enable improving the state of conservation of the species targeted by this project.

The project provides for an initial phase of preparatory actions consisting of drawing up executive projects for the realisation of the restoration of the fluvial continuity of the Magra and Vara rivers. Therefore, concrete actions shall consist in creating passages for fish along nine current critical obstructions that impede the upstream migratory movements of fish fauna, and in particular of the species targeted by this project, as well as environmental diversification actions inserting elements aimed at giving back sinuosity to the river and varying the texture of the river bed to improve the reproduction areas and recreate suitable habitats for the initial development phases of the ammocoetes.
Fundamental to safeguarding the abovementioned species are actions aimed at generating awareness among the local population and public administrations. These actions include the realization of nature paths and initiatives to disseminate a higher awareness of the importance about:
-    the S.IC. IT 1343502 Magra-Vara Park;
-    the Natura 2000 network;
-    initiatives to publicise and promote Community support.

Moreover, it is pointed out that the project will allow the identification of good management practices of watercourses in favour of the target fish species conservation and fluvial environment. The methods and the techniques identified will be applied in other European fluvial areas having similar characteristics, especially in the Mediterranean area.

The commitment of the private sector is indicative of shared objectives as well as the public-private nature of the partnership approach at the basis of the project which shall ensure lasting and significant results. Furthermore, the involvement of local fishing associations shall also enable collaborating to intensify surveillance activities vis-à-vis poaching and other damaging anthropic activities. Finally, crucial to the project are monitoring activities to evaluate the effects of concrete actions on the state of conservation of the species and habitats that are targeted by interventions, as well as the setting up of a technical-scientific committee and a management committee that will follow all the facets (technical, administrative and financial) and phases of the project by
means of periodical meetings.