The progress of the LIFE4FIR project continues!

Despite the continuing difficulties associated with COVID-19, the activities of the LIFE4FIR project have not stopped. In the last few months, there have been both field actions (such as in situ observation of trees in their habitat and of plants in the nursery and operations during the pollination phase) and monitoring and lab analysis actions. Following there are some photos taken by the beneficiaries during these recent activities.

Damage caused by wild animals on adult specimen of Abies Nebrodensis

 

Adult specimen of Abies Nebrodensis with defoliated and damaged crown

 

Adult specimen of Abies Nebrodensis with bare foliage in its lower part due to the shadow of beech trees

 

Adult specimen of Abies Nebrodensis with scattered desiccations

 

Seedlings raised in the nursery with desiccation, defoliation and chlorosis

 

Desiccation and defoliation of plant branches in the laboratory

 

Needles and twigs with alterations, observed with stereoscope in laboratory

 

Isolation of fungal pathogens in the laboratory

LIFE4FIR for the Natura 2000 day – 21 May 2020

Yesterday, 21 May 2020, the day of the Natura 2000 network was celebrated: this anniversary finds its origins on 21 May 1992, the day in which both the Habitats Directive and the LIFE Program have been approved. The Habitats Directive, together with the Birds Directive (dating back to 1979), formed the basis for the creation of the Natura 2000 Network. This network gathers more than 27 800 protected areas across Europe, and represents an instrument of the European policy for the conservation of the biodiversity and the maintenance of threatened or rare natural habitats and species of flora and fauna.

Over the years, based on the indications of the Habitats Directive, the member states have identified the Sites of Community Interest (SCIs), which are subsequently designated as Special Area of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) established by pursuant to the Birds Directive. In Italy, the SCIs, the SACs and the SPAs belonging to the Natura 2000 network cover a total of about 19% of the national terrestrial territory and more than 7% of the marine one.

LIFE4FIR also wanted to take part in this important day: the project in fact is aimed at protecting the last remaining specimens of Abies nebrodensis, located right inside a site that is part of the Natura 2000 network (habitat 9220*, SCI Ita 02004).

For the occasion, the coordinator Roberto Danti and his Sicilian colleagues Prof. Rosario Schicchi and Dr. Peppuccio Bonomo participated in the releasing of some short videos about our project.

Isolation and hand pollination of strobiles of Abies nebrodensis

Despite the difficult health situation, the activities of the LIFE4FIR project continue for defending the latest specimens of Abies nebrodensis.

Given the favorable seasonal trend, the action aimed at the isolation and hand pollination of the strobiles of the firs subjected to the protection measures started: on one side, barriers have been mounted in order to avoid contact with foreign pollen, coming from other varieties of fir trees present in the nearby reforestation areas; on the other side, pollen selected from Abies nebrodensis trees is collected in order to proceed with the following targeted hand pollination of other trees of the same species.

Below is a brief interview with Peppuccio Bonomo and Gaetano La Placa, during these field operations.

Three days of work in the Madonie Park for the start of action A.1 ‘Development of a protocol for the genetic characterization of the natural population of Abies nebrodensis and optimizing its propagation and conservation at cryogenic temperatures of organs and tissues’ – 20 -22 November 2019

From 20 to 22 November 2019, LIFE4FIR partners met for three days of work the Madonie Regional Park for carrying out the technical activities foreseen in action A1 “Development of a protocol for the genetic characterization of the natural population of Abies nebrodensis and optimizing its propagation and conservation at cryogenic temperatures of organs and tissues”.

Samplings and surveys were carried out both in the natural population and in the nursery “Piano Noce” where seedlings of A. nebrodensis are produced using the seed harvested from mature plants.

The team of the University of Seville carried out samplings for the genetic characterization of the natural population (sub-action A1.1) and of the plants raised in the nursery (sub-action A1.2).

The IPSP-CNR team carried out surveys and samplings to assess presence and impact caused by pathogens and adverse environmental factors both to plants of the natural population and to plants grown in nursery. The different types of alterations of the vegetative state were defined and samples were collected for subsequent laboratory analysis (sub-action A1.3).

The IBE-CNR and CIRITA-UNIPA team began analyzing the seeds obtained from the cones collected in autumn to evaluate the germination rate and to develop protocols for the low-temperature seed conservation and cryopreservation for organs and tissues.

In carrying out activities in the forest and in the nursery, researchers were helpfully supported and guided by the technical personnel of EPM and DRSRT. We spent three days of intense work in the name of a positive atmosphere of collaboration.

The LIFE4FIR project visited the Museum of the Abies nebrodensis just set up in the town hall of Polizzi Generosa. As requested by Mayor, the opportunity to establish here the seedbank and the cryobank planned by the project is being evaluated.

 

While sampling of the natural population for genetic analysis (action A1.1). In the background some scattered trees of A. nebrodensis are visible.

 

Samples of green needles were collected from all the adult trees and from young plants og the natural regeneration.

 

Needles collected from each plant were kept inside tea bags.

 

While surveing the health state of trees of the natural population (tree nr. 8).

 

Reddened shoots (tree nr. 11).

 

The tree nr. 12, showing desiccated twigs and branches throughout the crown.

 

Damage caused by wild herbivores to the tree nr. 24

 

Surveys on the tree nr. 28.

 

Survey and samplings on A. nebrodensis plants raised in the ‘Piano Noce’ nursery.

 

Plants in the nursery with desiccated sprouts.

 

The FIAB members from Catania visiting the Madonie Park for the LIFE4FIR project – 10 November 2019

On Sunday 10th November 2019 a group (about 100 people) of members of the FIAB, the Italian Friends of the Bicycle Federation of Catania visited the Madonie Park on the occasion of the thirty-year establishment of the Park.

Visitors expressed great interest in the activities carried out for the preservation and conservation of the Abies nebrodensis and the new actions and interventions planned in LIFE4FIR project, illustrated by the Park Director Dr. Peppuccio Bonomo.

 

Two moments of the meeting with the FIAB members visiting the Madonie Park.

LIFE4FIR Welcome Meeting in Bruxelles – 5-6 November 2019

European Commission and Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) organized the Welcome Meeting for NAT and GIE LIFE18 projects on 5 and 6 November 2019 in Brussels (at the following links the general agenda and the NAT & GIE projects’ specific agenda). The meeting took place at the Crowne Plaza Brussels.

The aim of the meeting was to present an overview of the relevant policy topics, the LIFE Programme rules, interaction with EASME and the role of the external monitoring team in project implementation. Financial and technical issues, as well as project reporting, dissemination and communication matters, were also discussed.

This Welcome Meeting was also used as a networking platform among the participating projects sharing common priority areas. Therefore, overview presenting the background, objectives, impacts and policy implications of projects were presented by each beneficiary.

 

 

Presentation of the LIFE4FIR project (available here in PDF format) by the coordinator to the other beneficiaries of the projects included in the NAT & GIE Habitat Restoration group.

 

Group photo of the representatives of all LIFE18 NAT & GIE projects.

 

Presentation of the LIFE18 programme for NAT and GIE projects, speech by Angelo Salsi, manager of EASME LIFE projects.

LIFE4FIR Kick-Off meeting in Palermo – 2-3 October 2019

The Kick Off meeting of the LIFE4FIR (here the agenda) project was held the 2nd October 2019 in the wonderful setting of the Orto Botanico di Palermo.

The meeting was attended by the Cooodinating beneficiary CNR IPSP (Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection) and CNR IBE (Institute of Bioeconomy) and by representatives of all associated beneficiaries: Ente Parco delle Madonie (EPM); Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull’interazione Tecnologia-Ambiente – Università Di Palermo (CIRITA-UNIPA); Assessorato Regionale dell’Agricoltura, dello Sviluppo Rurale e della Pesca Mediterranea, Dipartimento Regionale dello Sviluppo Rurale e Territoriale (DRSRT); University of Seville (US).

The meeting mainly has been aimed at developing a common view of the project mandate, fostering team building and establishing working relationships, beginning to tackle together the work to be done and focusing on the tasks that each beneficiary will have to deal with in the next months.

During the meeting, all beneficiaries have been acquainted on the main administrative and financial aspects of the Life programME.

The following day, 3rd October 2019, the LIFE4FIR group was welcomed by the Major of Polizzi Generosa, the municipality where the Abies nebrodensis population is located, and then visited in situ the relic trees’ area and the ‘Piano Noce’ nursery, where most activities on seedlings will be conducted during the project.

 

Presentations held during the meeting

 

First day meeting at the Botanical garden of Palermo

Coordinator and partners of the LIFE4FIR project, presenting their Institutions and the activities in which they will be involved within the project.

 

LIFE4Fir project and objectives was briefly introduced to students attending the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Palermo.

 

The LIFE4FIR group which attended the Kick Off meeting the 2nd October 2019 at the Orto Botanico of Palermo.

 

LIFE4FIR welcomed by the Major

The LIFE4FIR group was welcomed by the Major of Polizzi Generosa

 

In situ visit to the relic Abies nebrodensis population

Natural regeneration of Abies nebrodensis.

 

The LIFE4FIR workgroup was joined by a couple of german tourists which was hiking the Abies nebrodensis path in the Parco delle Madonie.

 

The Abies nebrodensis tree nr. 13 from which cones were collected soon before their maturation.

 

Coordinator and part of the LIFE4FIR group during the visit to the Abies nebrodensis relic population, guided by employees of the Parco delle Madonie.

 

Visit to the Piano Noce nursery

LIFE4FIR group and employees of the Piano Noce nursery which was visited during the second day of the meeting.

 

LIFE4FIR group visiting the plots in the Piano Noce nursery  where Abies nebrodensis seedlings are growing.

 

Coordinator and some colleagues of CNR visiting a site suited for the establishment of new clonal orchard as planned in the LIFE4FIR project.

 

At the following link is available the press release issued by the Parco delle Madonie’s Authority on parks.it!