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17/09/2014

Owls, emerald toads and hedgehogs: the inhabitants of the Green Rails

The naturalistic study along the Green Rails has been finished by our experts. It investigated the potential of the project area in terms of planti and animal species richness.

The resulting scenario laid the basis for formulating management proposals and for building project proposals aimed at maintaining the functionality of this ecological corridor. 

 

THE GREEN… OF THE GREEN RAILS

The results of the study show a richness, especially floristic, greater than expected. 368 plant species have been found within the study area, which correspond to as much as 80% of the total number of species present in the Municipality of Milan, a very high percentage when we think of how small the study area is. As a proof of the woldwide character of Milan and of the importance of railways in terms of seed and plant transport, species from all the continents have been found, as well as native plants of great naturalistic value.

 

BIRDS, AMPHIBIANS AND MAMMALS 

The study of birds has reserved some nice surprises. 51 species have been observed, including 19 using the railway areas for nesting and 12 using the study area as a stopover during migration. This latter aspect surprised us a lot and suggested a new purpose for the Green Rails: an observation point for birdwachers. 

The study of invertebrates showed the sporadic presence of species indicating good environmental quality, while the study of the community of reptiles found plenty of cold-blooded animals such as the rat snake and the gecko. The pools San Cristoforo area even host a population of emerald toad. 

A few mammals have been found, mainly because of the decision not to use killing-traps but only to place camera-traps. As a consequence, only small and medium-sized animals have been tracked. 

 

MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS 

This naturalistic description allowed us not only to highlight the discontinuities of the corridor, but also to suggest management practices able to improve biodiversity, such as lowering the amount of herbicides used, placing temporary wetlands and going for native plant species. 

The management guidelines are now in the hands of IRN (Italian Railway Network) technicians, so that the final proposals do not threaten the safety of transport and railway structures. However, the study will have the opportunity to propose a list of action that can be easily adapted to all the railway across Italy.