In the summer of 2021, the new fencing system to protect the 30 trees of the population and the established natural renewal was completed. 1800 chestnut poles (2.50 meters high) were used, and over 3.5 kilometers were enclosed with netting and metal wires. The protected area was expanded to cover a total surface of 14000 m2 around the Abies nebrodensis plants.
Phytosanitary investigations on trees in the natural population have been completed. These investigations included inspections of the foliage, sampling of branches affected by disorders (blight, needle reddening and loss, chlorosis) and isolation of fungal microorganisms have been carried out. Outcomes showed that the disturbances observed are related to the severe environmental conditions which Abies nebrodensis is experiencing, and, together with the fungal community observed on the symptomatic and healthy needles (consisting mainly of weak pathogens and saprophytes,) indicate that the species is able to cope with the restrictions of its habitat.
The planting out of the selected seedlings in the 10 areas chosen for the reforestation has started in spring 2023. The figures below show the repopulation nuclei set up in Favarotti (Isnello) and Mandarini (Petralia Sottana). Two-meter-high fences provide protection for the 300 Abies nebrodensis plants in the installations.
In the photo below, a newly planted Abies nebrodensis seedling is circled in red, while the arrows indicate the two broom plants (Spartium junceum) placed inside the hole to protect the fir seedling.
The inauguration of the Seed Bank and Cryobank developed within the framework of the LIFE4FIR project took place on July 21, 2023, in the presence of the Mayor of Polizzi Generosa, Gandolfo Librizzi, and the Councilor for Environmental Policies, Gaetano Bellavia, as well as researchers from IBE-CNR and the University of Palermo who developed the protocols and procedures. The biobank is managed by an employee of the Madonie Park Authority who has previously participated in a specific training session for this purpose.
The meeting was organized at the headquarters of the Madonie Park Authority, in Petralia Sottana (Italy), on November 29, 2023. The beneficiaries outlined and assessed the measures to be completed in the remaining 12 months of the LIFE4FIR project, in order to complete all scheduled activities and thus achieve the expected results.
The technical meeting for the 3 years and 6 months since the beginning of the project was held on May 17, 2023, at the Municipality of Polizzi Generosa (Italy). The beneficiaries gathered to review the progress and challenges of the project, considering the extension of the project duration requested to complete the remaining activities and achieve all expected results.
The LIFE4FIR project consortium met on 7th November in Spain for the periodic monitoring meeting. The meeting was organized by the University of Seville at the Santo Domingo Convent in Ronda, Málaga.
During the first day, the beneficiaries and the external monitor met in the beautiful venue to discuss the technical results obtained, the dissemination activities carried out, and to monitor the financial aspects. The meeting was a precious opportunity to manage the critical aspects of the project and discuss the activities to be completed in the coming months.
Afterwards, two days of visits to the Abies Pinsapo populations in the “Pinsapar Sierra de Las Nieves” forest and the “Pinsapar de Junqueras” forest were organised, followed by a visit to the nursery where the seedlings of this species are propagated.
On 10 November 2022, the University of Seville organized an open day for students. During the meeting, the technical-scientific issues relating to the conservation of threatened Mediterranean fir trees were addressed, referring to the experience of the LIFE4FIR project.
The Italian and Spanish researchers involved in the project and some political authorities took part in the meeting (here the program of the event).
On 7 November 2022, a replication event was held in Ronda (Spain) to promote the LIFE4FIR project and the LIFE programme, in its thirtieth year.
During the event, issues relating to the conservation strategies implemented in the project were addressed, as well as possible solutions to be adopted and applied also to other species of conifers at risk of extinction (here the programme of the event).
The event hosted Roberto Danti, coordinator of the project, Montserrat Arista from the University of Seville (beneficiary of the project) and representatives of Spanish institutions involved in the conservation of biodiversity of Abies pinsapo and other species: Jose López Quintanilla, Regional Coordinator (Junta de Andalucía ) of the Abies pinsapo conservation project; Rafael Haro, Director of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park; Antonio Rivas, Director of the El Castillejo Botanical Garden.
The activities of the LIFE4FIR project also include the implementation of a video surveillance system which, on the one hand, represents a deterrent for any illegal activities and, on the other, allows the monitoring of wild herbivores.
The plant consists of several video cameras (powered by solar panels and batteries) which have been positioned in ertain strategic points of the Abies nebrodensis trail.
The system was completed and activated in June 2022. Below are some photos taken during the installation of the cameras and the start-up of the system.