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10/07/2013

An ecological corridor between the WWF’s Vanzago protected area and Groane Park

It is widely recognised that one of the main threats to species and habitat conservation is fragmentation. Even the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) confirms that the protected-area approach is constraining because it does not allow a real connection among species able to maintain their genetic vitality.

This is the starting point of the project co-financed by Fondazione Cariplo "Connecting Vanzago protected area to Groane Park", which brings together in partnership the municipalities of Rho, Pregnana Milanese, Vanzago, Pogliano and WWF Italy (which Eliante collaborates with). The project aims at laying the foundations for the implementation of measures able to protecting the residual agricultural areas in an area at risk of further loss of land, since it borders with EXPO 2015 site.

The project area is an important part of the Regional Ecological Network (REN); in fact, right here goes the corridor connecting Vanzago’s protected area (managed by WWF Italy) with Groane Park. These two natural areas are defined by Lombardy Region as "Priority areas for biodiversity in the Po Valley". On the other hand, the site that is going to host the EXPO is just around the corner; for this reason, preserving this area that is likely to undergo heavy urbanisation projects linked to EXPO is even more important. 


The inhabitants of the corridor

The species and habitats to be protected in this part of Lombardy are many. There are two parks (Groane Park and Basso Olona Park), three Sites of Community Interest and a Special Protection Area. Here there are habitats worthy of protection, such as oak woods entirely purified by exotic species, spring waters, areas with wild moorland preserved from urban development. In terms of fauna, walking around here we encounter deers, foxes, weasels, badgers, hares, newts, a small endemic frog that lives only in Italy (Hyla intermedia), green and red woodpeckers, kingfishers, ducks, hawks, kestrels, owls and more.

 

The objectives of the project

Therefore, it is essential to preserve this ecological corridor and ensure its continuity through targeted actions. At this stage, a feasibility study will be carried out with the aim of:

 

  • Updating and systematising information about the species living in the area and identifying those most sensitive to ecological fragmentation;
  • Identifying areas of high conservation value and define management strategies taking into account both agriculture and biodiversity needs;
  • Identifying actions to improve the ecological connectivity of the area and to safeguard the existing corridors;
  • Increasing the level of awareness of local stakeholders, such as public authorities, farmers, the citizenry, managers of protected areas.

 

At the end of the project a series of updated maps will be carried out useful for effectively protect the corridors identified and remove all the barriers spotted throughout the study area.