Remote sensing via drone and monitoring activities of the LIFE4FIR project

The remote sensing via drone of the LIFE4FIR project

At the beginning of October 2020 the survey of the Abies nebrodensis natural are was carried out using a drone equipped with multispectral cameras. Remote sensing allows the monitoring of the health of trees and habitat through the measure of the radiation reflected by the vegetation.

During the drone flight, panoramic shots of the habitat and of the individual trees of the Abies nebrodensis population were acquired.

Tree n. 8

Trees n. 10 ed 11

Tree n. 12

Trees n. 16 e 17

Tree n. 19

Phytosanitary monitoring and laboratory activities of LIFE4FIR project

Phytosanitary surveys were carried out in November 2019 and in October 2020. Trees were subjected to a careful visual examination to evaluate their vegetative condition based on observations of the crown shape and transparency, turning foliage, presence of declining, desiccated or damaged parts, occurrence of lesions.

Laboratory analysis for LIFE4FIR monitoring activities

Laboratory analysis of collected samples were conducted through: observations under stereomicroscope, isolation and culture of fungal colonies and their genetic characterization through PCR amplification and sequencing of target loci for their identification. This allowed identification of the fungal microflora associated with the observed alterations and to detect the possible presence of harmful pathogens.

Coordination meeting for the 12 months of the LIFE4FIR project – 12-13 October 2020

The beneficiaries of the LIFE4FIR European project met in Palermo on 12 and 13 October 2020. During the meeting, progresses and results obtained in each action have been presented by each partner, and the next steps to be taken in the continuation of the project have been discussed.

Certainly one of the most relevant issues has been the impact of COVID-19 on project activities. The beneficiaries have taken all possible containment actions, but the possibility of having an impact on original scheduling remains, also in light of the uncertainty regarding the pandemic dynamics of the future months.

Autumn update on LIFE4FIR project activities

The activities of the LIFE4FIR project continue, despite the significant difficulties related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, in October 2020 the beneficiaries of the project met in Sicily, in order to hold the periodic coordination meeting. In addition to the updating for the 12 months of the project, being in Sicily the beneficiaries had live visits to the sites involved in the LIFE4FIR project.

Here are some photos taken during these activities.

During the technical and financial monitoring meeting held last October 12th in the restored rooms of the ancient library at the Botanical Garden of Palermo.

 

The LIFE4FIR group during the visit to the Abies nebrodensis Museum set up inside the town hall of Polizzi Generosa. The museum will host the cryobank foreseen in the project.

 

Approaching specimen no. 12 during the monitoring of the vegetative and sanitary conditions last October.

 

Taking samples from specimen no. 12 for laboratory observations and analyses.

 

Transit on the stony ground between the Vallone Madonna degli Angeli and Monte Scalone.

 

In front of tree n. 1, the most remote of the population.

 

The fruiting that occurred in 2020 was particularly abundant. The cones collected from the individual treeswere placed in boxes at the Piano Noce nursery, awaiting extraction of seeds.

Summer update on the activities and results achieved by LIFE4FIR

The activities for the protection of the specimens of Abies Nebrodensis and their repopulation foreseen in the LIFE4FIR project continue also in these hot summer months.

Here are some new photos taken by the beneficiaries during field trips and laboratory activities.

Adult specimen of Abies Nebrodensis with damaged top

 

Damages by wild animals on adult specimens

 

Specimen affected by defoliation

 

Specimen showing scattered desiccation

 

Specimen whose top has been removed to eliminate the almost desiccated part

 

Nursery-grown seedlings with desiccation and chlorosis

 

Branch with desiccation observed in the laboratory

 

Detail of alteration observed under the stereoscope in the laboratory

 

Collaborator at the laboratory counter engaged in the isolation of fungal colonies

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.