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Coast management, biodiversity, endangered species and marine plastic pollution are the focus of the European projects in which Cinque Terre National Park participates.
These projects started a few months ago, and are now getting to the heart of the matter and producing their first results. The Park Authority is on the front line, especially in the framework of MAREGOT - an Interreg project aimed at managing and preventing risks connected with coastal erosion - and MEDSEALITTER, whose purpose is to fight marine plastic pollution.
"Specifically" as acting Park president Vincenzo Resasco explains "MAREGOT is continuing to monitor relevant areas in the territory of the project partners, which are Corsica, Var (in the PACA Region: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), Sardinia, Tuscany and Liguria, in order to get an in-depth analysis of the situation. Later, pilot areas will be identified to carry out joint strategic actions and to manage the coastal area". Meanwhile, Cinque Terre Park is going ahead with the communication activities, for which it is responsible: it has prepared the communication plan, activated the website and social media profiles, and printed brochures and posters.
MEDSEALITTER instead, of which the Park is project leader, aims at creating a network of representative Marine Protected Areas and scientific/environmental organisations, in order to develop effective tools to monitor and manage the impact that plastic litter has on biodiversity. "We are proud of this especially important action" continues Resasco "as marine litter is a global threat for sea life, and is especially serious in the Mediterranean, a closed sea".
Other cooperation projects include GIREPAM, led by Sardinia Region. Like MAREGOT, this project is part of the 2014-2020 Marittimo Italy-France INTERREG transboundary Programme. Its purpose is to create a transboundary shared strategy for the integrated management of marine and coastal ecological networks, to be planned and carried out by regions together with parks and marine protected areas, in order to find solutions to the most pressing concerns in the area of cooperation. In the framework of GIREPAM, an interesting debate was recently held in Bonifacio, to discuss environment and management problems linked with the use of marine protected areas.
The last two projects concern two marine species whose survival is at risk because of human impact. The Life Relife Project focuses on Patella ferruginea, a mollusc living in the upper intertidal and supralittoral zone, which is the most easily accessible, and the most affected by surface pollution.
The second conservation intervention concerns the genus Cystoseira (brown algae), which plays a key role in protecting the marine environment, as it increases spatial heterogeneity and biodiversity, contributes to different food chains, and removes large amounts of CO2. Regrettably, in the last decades Cystoseira populations have been declining or have disappeared throughout the Mediterranean, because of several factors. This project, led by the University of Trieste, aims therefore at reintroducing various types of this algae in Cinque Terre and Miramare Marine Protected Areas, by previous culture under controlled conditions. For this purpose, procedures and techniques will be designed to take the apex from fertile adult thalli and to cultivate them in an aquarius. This project was the last to be launched, and is currently in its initial phase.
"Of course these projects" as Resasco concludes "will not only set up a network with the main Mediterranean partners and with Ligurian marine protected areas to safeguard the sea, but will be also disseminated with local associations. Sharing the process with local population and the scientific community, and punctually communicating the progresses is crucial for our territory and our sea."