Project Activities

Conservation actions

C1: Eradication of the Black rat in the Tremiti Islands

The action includes: 1) administrative documents for the purchase of the materials necessary for C1; 2) execution of the intervention in all its phases; 3) coordination in the executive phase; 4) monitoring the outcome of the operation.

The interventions will be carried out through the distribution of rodenticide baits, according to the most up-to-date methodologies adopted at international level and also used on Italian islands (eg Giannutri - LIFE04 NAT / 000172); Montecristo - LIFE08 NAT / IT / 000353; Tavolara - LIFE12 NAT / IT / 000416, Palmarola and Ventotene - LIFE 14NAT / IT / 000544) and other European countries. The baits will be administered in dispensers arranged over the entire island surface. In San Nicola, where extensive coastal sectors are almost inaccessible due to the high steepness and the landslide of the slopes, we will resort to the aerial distribution of baits in biodegradable containers according to the protocol developed for Palmarola (in turn based on the most up-to-date international protocols used for the aerial distribution of pellet baits). This mode will also be adopted in the few very steep areas of the 3 other islands. The dispensers will be arranged with a density of 5-6 per hectare, where possible placed at regular distances of about 40 m from each other. Each dispenser will be geo-referenced with GPS. The eradication will be started in the most suitable period with respect to the density and reproductive activity of the rats, risk for non-target species, trophic availability for rats, according to what emerged from the investigations carried out in Action A1. In any case, the summer tourist period will be avoided. The containers will be restocked 7-8 times with a minimum interval of 15-20 days, gradually longer as consumption decreases. The operation will end only after two consecutive complete checks without traces of the presence of rats. The executive methods that will be adopted are similar to those of routine rat extermination interventions carried out in urban contexts, with dispensers that are difficult to open (eg not forcible by children) and baits containing a substance that makes them unappetizing for humans. In the areas treated by helicopter, 3 launches will be carried out at a density of 8-10 biodegradable positions / ha. Overall, the total surface area of ​​the areas treated with dispensers is expected to be approximately 190 ha, while a further 20 ha will be treated by helicopter launch. Indicatively it will be necessary: ​​approx. 1800 dispensers for terrestrial distribution and approx. 480 biodegradable for the aerial one; ca. 1900 kg of paraffin block baits.

In the two inhabited islands it is planned to hold at least 2 meetings with the population and to continue the informal activity of involving the residents, based on the positive experience gained in Ventotene.

The start of eradication is foreseeable in autumn / winter 2021/22. The main phase will predictably last 2.5-3 months, but it is foreseeable that at least on San Domino the stations will be kept active for another 10-12 months, to reach all individuals. When the consumption of bait is close to zero, monitoring activities will be started to detect any rats that should avoid the stations (or the baits used), and in case of even suspicious presence, an attempt will be made to reach these specimens with different baits and containers. Presumably in the other islands, eradication could be completed within 9 months.

During the final stages of eradication, bio-security measures will be initiated (cf. C5).

The baits used do not involve any risk of soil or groundwater pollution. The only significant risks are related to the possible poisoning of non-target species that consume the baits (direct poisoning) or by passing through food chains (indirect poisoning). However, the baits appear to have very low toxicity. Preliminary tests (action A1) will make it possible to identify any risks and to adopt appropriate protection measures.

Significant risks (at the population level) for native species seem to be excluded. To reduce the risk of migratory birds of prey, appropriate mitigation strategies will be adopted (choice of period, choice of active principle). Precautionary measures will be adopted, in agreement with the authorities involved (Municipality, health and veterinary authorities) and the resident population, to protect pets in the inhabited islands. It is planned to adopt the same precautions put in place in Ventotene, which made it possible to complete the eradication without any case of intoxication detected among the approximately 200 stray cats present.

It will also be recommended to monitor the dogs during the first 2-3 months of the operation and signs will be installed to warn visitors about the risks arising from the presence of bait. However, please note that the precautions adopted will be the same as those implemented in the interventions carried out in the inhabited areas.

The black rat is the major cause of threat to the productivity of Calonectris diomedea and Puffinus yelkouan and presumably the cause of extinction of Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis in ancient times. The impact of the predation of eggs and chicks has been documented in many Italian islands, and can affect up to 100% of the nests (see Baccetti et al., 2009). In addition to seabirds, rats have a direct impact on numerous other animal and vegetable species (consumption of seeds) and, indirectly, on the overall balance of the island ecosystem, which will benefit from their removal with an increase in levels of naturalness, biodiversity. (e.g. cessation of consumption of seeds of species of habitats 5330 and * 6220 and 9540) and biomass, restoration of the functionality of ecosystems with recovery of plant species whose seeds are consumed by rats.

Non-quantifiable improvement of ecological conditions for resident birds nesting on the ground or at modest height and for migratory birds resting on all islands, as well as for reptiles, invertebrates, flora and vegetation.

C2: Eradication of ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima) on the Tremiti Islands

The action will be carried out in all areas where single plants or entire populations of Ailanthus altissima appear in the islands of San Nicola and San Domino, while in Capraia at the moment their presence can be excluded. From a preliminary analysis, it is estimated that there are about twenty nuclei in the island of San Nicola (1000-2000 m2 of affected area) and 30-40 nuclei in that of San Domino (3000-8,000 m2 of affected area).

The works will be carried out by a company specializing in forestry works under the supervision of a senior forestry technician who will also take care of the accounting part of the works.

The difficulties in eradicating ailanthus reside in the exceptional vigor manifested by the plant following the cutting of the stem with the emission of numerous shoots from the adventitious radical buds. For this reason, the only way that leads to the drying up of the plant in a short time is the use of systemic herbicides which, penetrating the organs of the lymphatic vessels, are also translocated to the root organs. There are now many experiences conducted, even in very similar contexts, which show that there are no techniques that are equally effective. Thanks also to the interventions carried out in the context of other LIFE Nature projects in protected areas (eg LIFE08 NAT / IT / 000353, LIFE12 BIO / IT / 000213) it was possible to absolutely exclude the effects of contamination and / or damage to ecosystems or to other plant and animal species.

This is because the technique adopted is to brush the cutting surface with the herbicide solution (whose components and the optimal dilution percentage will be identified as part of the executive project) without any form of dispersion. The molecule of the active ingredient, translocated in the roots in a very short time, tends to disintegrate and totally lose its characteristics after a few weeks.

The intervention, to have the best effectiveness, must be carried out in the late summer and early autumn months (September-October) and it will be important to start the first felling intervention (September 2021) starting from the seed-carrying plants (adult female) in order to to prevent the seed that has fallen to the ground from germinating in the spring of 2021.

The woody material of appreciable size will be left at the disposal of the private individual (if requested) or of the local population if present in public ownership. The twigs (including the seeds) will be stored in a suitable place to be safely burned within the times and methods permitted by current legislation on the island.

The problem of the persistence of the germinability of the seed on the ground (seed-bank), based on the available literature (see and previous experiences already conducted by NEMO in the islands of Capraia and Montecristo, however, can only be resolved by repeated checks with manual grubbing up of the young seedlings.

After the first cutting and brushing of the stems, for the next two years (2022 and 2023), new cutting and brushing of any regrown root suckers and manual grubbing of the small plants born from seed will follow.

Already starting from autumn 2021, replacement plantings will be carried out both on public land (San Nicola) and in those of private individuals who request it. Overall, 50 newly planted plants are planned.

The checks carried out in the following 2 years will also be used to assess the need to compensate for any failures.

The closing of the operations in the field (October 2023) will be followed by the formal closure of the works with the preparation of the final accounting (December 2023).

The expected results of this action are: Eradication of Ailanthus altissima on the Tremiti Islands

Recovery of sites with stationary conditions potentially suitable for the settlement of native vegetation currently occupied by the ailanthus environmental heterogeneity Increase of awareness among the local population on the subject of invasive alien species and on the importance of active conservation of nature.

C3: Eradication of the South African senecione (Senecio inaequidens) on the Gargano

The action provides for the complete eradication of the South African senecione (Senecio inaequidens) from the Gargano Promontory, in the immediate vicinity of the National Park and in the neighboring territories. Since this is a presence on modest surfaces and an activity in which preliminary investigations and monitoring of results are an integral part of the eradication, it was decided to combine preliminary activities and eradication in a single concrete action.

The aim of the intervention is to totally eradicate Senecio inaequidens from the Gargano, where it was recently found in 2 distinct areas (San Giovanni Rotondo and Lesina), on a total occupied area of ​​approximately 10,000 square meters, spread over approximately 0.8 square kilometers in the site of San Giovanni Rotondo and about 3,000 square meters in Lesina.

Probably the most appropriate technique, also considering the rather limited area of ​​intervention, will be the one developed during multi-year activities still in progress on populations of Senecio inaequidens in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, i.e. manual eradication. to be repeated for 3 years.

The use of herbicides is not taken into consideration, given the small size of the populations and the presence in San Giovanni Rotondo of many specimens in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings.

Manual removal is a suitable modality for small and not too dense formations, in easily accessible sites. The technique allows, in fact, to select the plants to be removed, leaving the native species in place.

The effectiveness of the technique increases due to the timeliness of action, with the aim of preventing small infestations of senecio from going to seed and spreading progressively (the Gargano populations have recently been reported). The eradication must affect not only the epigeal apparatus but also the radical one, by means of hoes in the most demanding cases. The management of uprooted plants is an important aspect that requires considerations regarding advantages and disadvantages in terms of economy, the effectiveness of the treatment over time and, last but not least, safety. In any case, the uprooted material will be concentrated in individual piles, intended for immediate burning or for bagging and disposal.

The eradication of the South African senecione will be carried out in 2020. It is believed likely that in the following springs (2021-2022) it will be necessary to carry out a new, relatively significant intervention, to eradicate the seedlings that may germinate from the seeds present in the soil. A further step will be carried out in 2023, for control and possible repetition of the intervention, the continuation of which will be scheduled in the After LIFE plan. The intervention staff will consist of a team of 2 workers.

Until a few years ago, Puglia was the only Italian region in which this species was not reported. Only in the last 5 years has the species been found in the 2 Apulian sites, along railways and roads, which the species prefers to conquer new areas. From these sites, if not eradicated, it has the possibility of invading the surrounding pastures.

Considering the considerable distance between the 2 known sites of presence (Lesina and San Giovanni Rotondo), it is possible that there are other sites not yet identified on the Gargano. Therefore, we will proceed to search for additional stations in the ecological areas specific to the species (rather large) and in relation to the 2 presence areas currently known in the area in question.

Actions to ensure the long-term result:

Accurate detection of invaded areas and eradication of all individuals in the area subject to intervention starting from 2020.

Annual repetition of interventions in the following 3 years Creation of an early detection and rapid response network for the rapid and timely identification and treatment of new invasion outbreaks (in particular, considering the importance of railways and roads as expansion routes, they will be organized training meetings for Anas and railway operators on recognition of the species and the need for immediate reporting to the NPC.

C4: Actions on alien plant species in the Brindisi coast

Seed collection and cultivation of native propagation material

Thanks to the collaboration with ARIF and through the involvement of stakeholders, the Parco delle Dune Costiere will carry out 3 campaigns for the collection of seeds and cuttings of native plant species which can then be propagated within the areas subject to eradication of alien plant species . In particular, at least 1,000 specimens of autochthonous species of dune and retro-dune habitats will be collected and cultivated from seeds or cuttings.


Eradication of alien plant species

They will concern in particular the areas along the road infrastructures and the man-made ones due to the presence of bathing service structures present in the areas behind the dunes as well as the areas with the presence of priority habitats located on the edges of urbanized areas with tourist-residential dwellings.

The eradication will be planned in great detail in the context of Action 3.3 thanks to the detailed information collected during Actions 3.2 and thanks to the processing of the data collected in the geo-database through GIS software.

The eradication of alien infesting tree species such as Ailanthus altissima, Robinia peudoacacia, Acacia saligna or Myoporum insulare will take place with different methods based on the type and size of the plant, favoring cutting with removal of the stump, practicing the cercinatura or cutting of the plant with brushing or injection of the active principle, and resorting to foliar sprinkling only in the final analysis on the occasion of any shoots regrowth and in areas without the presence of plant species belonging to poreitarian habitats.

The eradication of Carpobrotus will take place through manual grubbing or with manual tools (also thanks to the organization of a day with volunteer staff) of the nuclei present in some dune and back dune areas located in the vicinity of man-made areas. The grubbing campaign carried out during the first year will be followed by a control phase of any development of seedlings from the soil seed bank and a new phase of uprooting of shoots or new seedlings in the following year. The eradication of other alien species present in a timely manner in the area (Agave americana, Opuntia, Pittosporum tobira, Yucca gloriosa, Thuja sp.) Will take place through eradication with manual tools. All plant material will be removed or chopped on site in order to avoid propagation by cuttings. The action will be accompanied by interventions of selective elimination of weeds and containment of weed species with selective mowing of herbaceous vegetation, as well as interventions for the collection of any deposited inorganic material. At the end of the eradication actions in the affected areas, the renaturalization of the priority habitats will be carried out with native species multiplied starting from locally collected germplasm.

Voluntary participation by private individuals in replacing alien plants with native plants

One of the main threat factors for the priority habitats present in the Brindisi coast is represented by the spread of alien species, in particular ailanthus, robinia, Myoporum, Carpobrotus, Yucca, Acacia dealbata, which have been planted as ornamental greenery in the gardens of the residential areas present. on the edge of the SIC itself and which then began to expand into natural environments. Therefore, in order to contain this diffusion, it will be realized, thanks also to the collaboration of the Consortium of Rosa Marina and the consortium of Cala di Rosa Marina, which bring together most of the owners, and following the activities of the laboratories on the recognition of plant species aliene (Action 5.3), a campaign to replace plants belonging to alien species with native species from local ecotypes. With the help of the equipment acquired by the Park through the project and the staff of ARIF, point eradications of single individuals or small groups of alien species can be carried out, upon notification of the owners if they are inside their gardens.

The interventions will take place in winter 2020/21 and there will be 2 repetitions in the following winters.

C5: Biosecurity measures

Implementation of measures aimed at reducing the risk of re-invasion of areas subject to eradications, necessary for the long-term maintenance of the benefits obtained. Specific measures for rats in the Tremiti Islands must be rigorously defined and applied, given the speed with which these animals can rapidly reconstitute a population and the risk associated with the presence of stable human settlements. The measures aimed at plants refer to rapid response activities and, with the exception of ailanthus in the Tremiti, periodically they will have to be implemented given the presence of alien species in contiguous areas. The concrete measures aimed at Callinectes could be classified as rapid response or permanent control actions depending on the frequency of reappearance of the species, currently not foreseeable. For all species and all sites, actions to raise awareness and involve stakeholders as preventive activities will be envisaged.

The reduction of the possibility of entry of rats, described in greater detail because in order to protect the results of the most demanding action, is obtained through actions in the port areas of departure, in ships of the line, information actions, and actions to quickly "intercept" any rodents that might arrive on the islands. Knowledge on the effectiveness of "interception" systems is good for species of the genus Rattus (cf. Russel et al. 2008: Review of rat invasion biology. Implications for island biosecurity. Science for Conservation 286, Wellington, New Zealand, 54 pp.), and significant experiences were also made by the beneficiary NEMO in various Italian LIFE Projects (LIFE08 NAT / IT / 000353, LIFE12 NAT / IT / 000416, LIFE13 NAT / IT / 000471, LIFE 14NAT / IT / 000544). The adoption of the appropriate measures should ensure a sufficient level of biosecurity (considered reachable even in islands with a resident population close to 1000 inhabitants: Hilton and Cuthbert 2010. Ibis 152: 443–458). The experiences gained in the LIFE projects mentioned above and in others (Scilly Island, LIFE11 NAT / UK / 000387).

The bio-security measures will be activated during the course of action C1, and will be fully operational during the final stages of the eradications. The measures indicated below will be prudently oversized during the period covered by the project, also for monitoring purposes, and may be reduced or optimized by its conclusion, once they have been understood and tested by the subjects involved to varying degrees in their implementation. (port managers, residents and owners of second homes, farmers, managers of boats carrying tourists). The collaboration required of the subjects listed above (be careful not to damage the regulators on boats and on land, to protect the boats with adequate management of ropes and decks, adoption of simple precautions in case of transport of risk materials on the islands, distribution of leaflets information for boaters) is undemanding and is in any case in their interest as the eradication of the rats will produce an improvement in livability conditions on the islands.

The measures that will certainly have to be adopted are summarized as follows:

Verification and possible readjustment of rodent control activities carried out in the ports of departure (main port Termoli, the ports of Vieste, Peschici, Rodi Garganico will also be considered) installation of dispensers on board the boats that guarantee connections with the islands by reviewing the methods of opening / closing of hatches, adoption of systems to prevent rats from boarding (cones overturned on the ropes, etc.), adoption of precautionary measures in case of transport of certain categories of goods, etc .; the detailed definition of any specific measures to be taken will be made on the basis of the findings of the investigations provided for in action A1. During the project we will try to obtain the collaboration of the Port Authorities and the shipping companies, in any case the measures will be guaranteed by a municipal ordinance aimed at prescribing their adoption for all the scheduled boats that will provide service from year to year.

Information actions with residents and owners of second homes, fishermen, boaters, in order to draw attention to possible activities at risk (defined according to action A1) and on the precautions to be taken on private boats.

Activation of an "interception" system (cf. Russel et al. 2008: Review of rat invasion biology. Implications for island biosecurity. Science for Conservation 286, Wellington, New Zealand, 54 pp) of any rodents that might arrive on the islands, consisting of a series of normal dispensers with rodenticide baits and some highly attractive capture / monitoring points (rat hotel: wooden boxes containing various foods, materials for building nests, rodenticide baits and snap-traps; killer traps), arranged in strategic points of the islands, in the port areas, in those with human settlements and regularly frequented by tourists, along the coastal perimeters in the areas where private boats stop more frequently.

Drafting of a contingency plan describing the response protocols in the face of reports of the presence of rats.

The bio-security measures against Callinectes sapidus will be defined in Action A4 and will presumably be aimed at ensuring the rapid detection of new specimens / nuclei and the activation of a Rapid response procedure.

The biosecurity measures for alien plant species will include: a) the adoption of specific regulations or ordinances by the PNG and / or the municipality of the Tremiti Islands and the PDC and / or the competent municipalities b) information actions to involve residents and owners of second homes, and managers of concessions in the Brindisi coast, preventing the eradicated and other invasive species currently absent from being planted on private properties; c) monitoring, also with the involvement of stakeholders, and rapid response. Any other measures, not foreseeable to date, may be defined in the context of the action A2 and will be contained in the Bio-security Action Plan.

The action must include the stipulation of agreements for obtaining authorizations and the definition of protocols relating to specific problems to be agreed with owners and other persons responsible for the areas and / or vehicles (boats) involved in the intervention: port authority, Harbor Master's Office of Porto, tourist port managers, shipping companies.

C6: Local eradication of Callinectes sapidus in the Brindisi coast

The presence of the blue crab in Puglia is part of the recent history of local marine environments, having been surveyed only since 2006 (Gravili et al. 2010), in the basins of Ugento del Salento (Southern Puglia, Northern Ionian Sea). Since then its distribution has expanded like wildfire, but always linked to lagoons, ports and transitional waters, above all thanks to its high ecological plasticity that allows it to adapt to almost continuous variations in salinity from fresh to marine waters. . Dense populations are known both along the Ionian Sea, from the Mar Piccolo of Taranto to the Ugento and along the Adriatic coast, from the Alimini lakes to the Lesina and Varano lakes, albeit with seasonal distribution differences (Mancinelli et al. 2017).


Action goals

To mitigate the impacts of the species in the SAC Litorale Brindisi we propose to apply a practical approach to remove the invasive blue crab in the SAC, studying and updating current knowledge and providing useful data for similar operations in larger areas. The general objective of the action is the eradication / reduction of the blue crab population present in the area through the selective removal of the species. During the preliminary activities we will study the density and dynamics of blue crab populations, using as ecological descriptors: abundance, distribution by size classes, sex ratio, sexual maturity, biomass, etc. The analysis of distribution and abundance will provide data to evaluate the invasiveness and the level of settlement of the blue crab in the different environments of the SAC, useful for management actions. During the capture activities, the populations of other native and alien crustacean species, possible competitors of the target species, will be studied. The conservation interest species present in the area and whose population dynamics could be influenced by the activities of the blue crab (eg Aphanius fasciatus) will also be monitored.

Blue crab fishing

In view of the fact that what we are proposing is the first attempt to eradicate the blue crab, the previous information is absolutely scarce. For this reason, both the preliminary investigations and the activities aimed at eradication will be based exclusively on trapping, a technique already tested in previous experimental activities on their diet. The preliminary and eradication activities will therefore be widely interpenetrated, and the catches will have to be accompanied, during the eradication attempt, by intense monitoring activities to assess the progress of the eradication itself and, if necessary, by changes to the defined capture protocols. . This is why we have decided to propose a single concrete action that also includes preliminary and collateral investigation and monitoring activities. Preliminarily, a series of fishing tools for the capture of crabs, different in size and type of opening, will be tested in order to verify the best yield in terms of number of catches and species intercepted. Those that will have the best results will then be used in subsequent capture activities. A set of selected crab traps will be deployed in the field and then retrieved the next day. The traps will be deployed in different habitats where the crab rests or feeds. Having no information on how many specimens make up the local populations of crabs or on the degree of turnover and recruitment, the timing and seasonal repetitions of the catches are not quantifiable at the moment. As a precaution, we will follow the principle of "fishing until there are crabs". This means that the cages will be returned to the field several times until no more catches are recorded. At this point the fishing activity will be interrupted and will resume in the following season. To assess the abundance and population dynamics, at each sampling site and during each sampling season, the animals found in the traps will be identified taxonomically, counted by the number of individuals of each species, sexed, measured morphometrically and photographed directly in the field . Individuals belonging to native species will be released. for native species of crustaceans, for which direct interaction with alien populations is possible, in terms of ecological niche and trophic ecology, the main population parameters will be taken. In general, individuals belonging to alien populations will be removed and managed, in compliance with the regulations in force on animal welfare (Reg. EEC 852/04, Legislative Decree 189/2004 and Reg. Pugliese 6/2016).

Accomplished results

The expected results at the ecosystem level include the decrease in the pressure exerted by the blue crab on indigenous populations and on the entire community present in the area. In particular, a better conservation status of the species of community interest that could be part of the blue crab diet is expected. The study of the population dynamics of the blue crab and of the other species present in the area will be useful for the development of suitable future strategies for the conservation of the area. Although the direct effects of alien species on ecosystem services and functions are not yet known, the hypothesis of "doing nothing" is to be discarded. Furthermore, taking into account the latest warnings at European level on the problem of alien species. The European Union is very active in encouraging the implementation of regulatory guidelines on the control of IAS. This is evident in the various activities in this regard, such as the Invasive Species Strategy (EC, 2008), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; EC, 2008), the Biodiversity Strategy (EC, 2011) and the regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (EU, 2014). It seems more reasonable to develop a species control policy, through eradication which remains the primary approach to prevent further spread.

Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D1: Scientific monitoring

Habitat and plant species

Both in the Tremiti Islands and in the Brindisi coast, to evaluate the effects of the concrete actions on the habitats of the Directive, floristic-vegetational investigations will be carried out in two successive moments (spring, summer-autumn) during each year, with the realization of surveys phytosociological on all the islands. As far as possible, the monitoring will have to follow a BACI (Before After Control Intervention) approach, that is, in addition to the repetition of the monitoring in the same sites before and after the concrete conservation interventions, plots will be arranged both in the eradication areas of alien plants and in other comparison. A total of 16 days per year are expected with a minimum number of 2 operators. A survey will also be carried out on some endemic plant species of biogeographical interest, characterizing and indicating the habitats of community interest in the Tremiti Islands. A monitoring of these species will then be carried out (Allium diomedeum, Aurinia leucadea subsp. Diomedea, Centaurea diomedea, Crambe hispanica, Daphne sericea), in order to precisely define their distribution and abundance, before and after carrying out the concrete actions. 4 days of monitoring are foreseen in the spring-summer months, to be repeated for 2 years, using a minimum number of 2 operators per day. The eradication interventions of the South African senecione (Senecio inaequidens) on the Gargano aim at eliminating the species from the flora of Puglia. The species spreads in grassland habitats, where it comes secondarily to the invasion of roads and railways. Therefore, monitoring will be activated along the main communication routes (railways, roads), with inspections to be carried out during the flowering period, when the species is usually easily identifiable. Although the species has a long flowering period, which goes from April to December, on the Gargano it has so far been found in flower in autumn and there are no data on its flowering in the area under examination in spring-summer. Therefore, the inspections will be carried out in the period September-November. For this type of inspection, 7 days per year and a minimum number of 3 operators per day are expected (1 driver and 2 passengers who will check for the presence of Senecio inaequidens on both sides of the road. Obviously the determination must be confirmed by stopping safely. to collect a herbarium sample, which must be preserved so as not to disperse seeds or other parts of the plant). The eradication of alien plants in the Brindisi coast involves the planting of native species with local ecotype in the eradication areas, replacing the alien species. Therefore, monitoring will be set up aimed at identifying populations of native species to be sampled and at the best time for harvesting the seeds (cut test to verify that the seeds are ripe) and cuttings. For this type of monitoring, weekly inspections are foreseen in the period April-May (8 days per year) and a minimum number of 2 operators per day. After the eradication of the alien species, the intervention areas will be subjected to bi-monthly monitoring in the period April-October (4 inspections per year at each site subjected to intervention, starting from 2021). For this type of monitoring 8 days per year and a minimum number of 2 operators per day are envisaged.

Animal species

The eradication of rat populations mainly aims at the conservation of the breeding populations of Calonectris diomedea and Puffinus yelkouan in the Tremiti Islands. The evaluation of the effectiveness of the action must therefore be based on an analysis of the status of the breeding populations and their reproductive success, before and after eradication. The two species nest inside cavities placed on small islands or cliffs (in Sardinia). Since only a small part of these cavities can be inspected, the evaluation of the consistency and reproductive parameters of these species is decidedly complex. The occupation of potentially suitable cavities will be verified through the observation of one of the two hatching adults or the pullus inside it or by exploiting the signs of presence (excrement at the entrance or the typical smell) or remains of eggs or young preyed upon and dragged outside by rats. Other information useful for quantifying the existing population will derive from the count of the evening groupings that the reproducing adults carry out in the vicinity of the nesting areas while waiting to enter the cavities in the dark. In line with the indications listed above, intensive monitoring sessions are expected starting from 2020 in March (3 days), April (6 days), June (6 days), July (3 days) and September (3 days), using 2-3 operators per day. As regards counting at the nests, after preliminary inspections, suitable and suitable areas will be sampled on the islands of San Nicola, Capraia and San Domino. The method will allow to estimate the reproductive success and the occupancy of adults in the nursery. The rafts, on the other hand, will be monitored at dusk, using 3 advantageous positions from the three islands mentioned above. The choice of sighting sites will be obtained through preliminary inspections. Parallel to the study on the target species, other investigations will be carried out on the class of reptiles, specifically on Ophidians and Saurians (with particular reference to the endemic lizard Podarcis siculus sanctinicolai - Taddei, A. 1949) and on terrestrial Gastropod species, also referring to previous ones experiences gained under LIFE14 NAT / IT / 000544 PonDerat. The monitoring strategy will be identified in the early stages of the project and for the methods reference will be made to other LIFE experiences and / or other projects in which the indicated taxa have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of the eradication action. Also for these groups the monitoring will be carried out before, during and after the eradications. During the Callinectes sapidus trapping activities in the Brindisi coast, the populations of other native and alien crustacean species, possible competitors of the target species and therefore favored by its eradication, will be investigated. Furthermore, the conservation interest species present in the area and whose demographic dynamics could be influenced by the activities of the blue crab (for example Aphanius fasciatus) will be monitored. This activity falls within those provided for by action C6, as well as the related costs.

D2: Monitoring of socio-economic and cultural effects

The main socio-economic benefit deriving from the project is the reduction of health risk. In fact, rodents are implicated in the transmission to humans of numerous zoonoses (cf. Capizzi and Santini, 2007, I roditori Italiani. Antonio Delfino Editore). The eradication of the black rat will lead to a reduction in health risk for the inhabitants / visitors of the islands of San Nicola and San Domino (approximately 480 residents in total, excluding the summer tourist turnout). The populations present on the two inhabited islands mentioned above are subject to constant control interventions through the distribution of rodenticides. Such interventions carry intoxication risks for non-target species (including cats and domestic dogs), such as raptors, due to predation operated on poisoned rats. The proposed project actions, one

once the problem is fully operational, they will solve this risk because the baits used as a biosecurity measure will have the function of intercepting sporadic inputs of rats, and the risk for non-target fauna will finally be practically nil.

The economic costs associated with the presence of rats are also significant, concerning both the loss of agricultural products (not estimable as production for self-consumption largely prevails) and expenses to protect crops and pets from rats, as well as damage to artifacts and equipment, and the cost incurred by individuals and businesses for pest control activities. With the communication actions we aim to spread awareness on these issues related to rats and on the impacts caused by alien species in general, in order to reduce voluntary and involuntary immissions in nature, on the need to allocate public resources to this problem, to foster greater acceptance of control and eradication interventions, both locally and generally.

The interventions on alien plants should also make it possible to affect the perception of the local community and tourists with respect to this problem, faced for the first time in the Tremiti Islands and already the subject of previous actions involving local stakeholders in the Brindisi coast. It is also expected that the implementation of an intervention that has evident positive socio-economic consequences such as the removal of rats from inhabited islands and / or islands with a high tourist presence can produce a considerable consensus towards the proposing bodies, the Natura 2000 Network and the EU.

The high tourist attendance of the Tremiti islands and the way of accessing the islands, i.e. for a few obligatory entrances, will facilitate the possibility of conveying information on the project and in particular messages on issues related to alien species, allowing to reach a large audience of citizens. .

From an ecosystemic point of view, the removal of the rat (and to a lesser extent of the ailanthus) on the Tremiti islands will initiate a dynamic of recovery of the native plant and fauna communities, favoring their diversification and improving the complexity of the trophic network. This will ensure the restoration / improvement of important ecosystem services deriving from local flora and fauna species such as pollination, defense against slope erosion, carbon sequestration and resilience to climate change.

D3: Evaluation of the restoration of ecosystem functions

Evaluation of the improvement of ecosystem functions in the project areas after the eradication of invasive species that affect their structure and functions. To evaluate the recovery of ecosystem functionality, the various trophic levels and the biodiversity and biomass values ​​will be analyzed. It is known, in fact, that the loss of biodiversity negatively affects the functioning of ecosystems (eg Food-web constraints on biodiversity – ecosystem functioning relationships, Thébault & Loreau, PNAS 2003), and the analysis of food networks can be a useful study tool to evaluate the impact. The objective of this action, therefore, is to evaluate the change in the various trophic levels following the removal of rats and ailanthus in the Tremiti Islands and alien plants and Callinectes sapidus in the dune and freshwater environments of the Brindisi coast. The data deriving from the monitoring of the effectiveness of the actions will be used for an assessment of the change in the state of the ecosystem functions. For this purpose, biodiversity and biomass parameters relating to three different levels of the food chain will be measured: primary producers (plants), primary consumers (invertebrates), secondary consumers (lacertidae reptiles). This will allow us to verify whether the removal of IAS that affect ecosystems will be followed by a parallel increase in native species, as has been repeatedly verified, in particular, in islands subject to rat eradication. Unlike action D1, therefore, this action will consider the various trophic levels as a whole, thus evaluating the interactions that exist between them. Basically, what we are going to verify is not the increases of the various fauna groups individually, but the change of an entire process, that is to say the recovery of the ecosystem functions The action will be launched simultaneously with the definition of the scientific monitoring activities and will end at the end of the project. The data collected during the action will be used for monitoring the indicators (Project Specific Indicators).

Public awareness and dissemination of results

E1: Dissemination planning and execution

Development of the Dissemination plan including definition of homogeneous criteria for the design, implementation and management of dissemination activities, drafting of a communication plan, definition of a coordinated project image (logo, graphic format, slogan) for the products created in the various actions, the detailed definition of products and activities. Identification of stakeholders and definition of activities aimed at facilitating the performance of the action; stakeholders include economic operators who could be favored by the protection of nature and shearwaters in particular, and therefore support the project in the entire local community (already today there are tourist offers related to shearwaters, such as night boat rides for listening to the song).

Detailed definition of the activities aimed at communicating the aims and results of the project to the general public and to specific target audiences. The definition of the Dissemination Plan will take into account the experiences gained in numerous other projects concerning the IAS (including the ongoing LIFE Project ASAP Alien Species Awareness Program) and in particular those implemented in small inhabited islands. We will try to favor communication based on positive messages: protection of the symbolic species of the Tremiti, formerly called the Diomedee Islands, improvement of the living conditions of the population (economic damage caused by rats, costs for Rodent control, health risks), protection of the landscape natural origin of the coast of the Brindisi coast. The Dissemination plan will be completed by June 2020.

Networking with other projects (LIFE and non-LIFE). The action will be carried out in continuity with the same activity carried out in other LIFE projects with concrete actions on alien species where the beneficiary NEMO was involved as associated beneficiary or sub-contractors (LIFE14 NAT / IT / 000544 PonDerat, LIFE13NAT / IT / 000471 Rest with LIFE, LIFE12 NAT / IT / 000416 “LIFE Puffinus Tavolara”, LIFE08NAT / IT / 000353 "Montecristo2010"); the network of relationships acquired in the listed projects will be extended with those of all the other beneficiaries. It is planned to carry out networking actions with the beneficiaries of other ongoing or concluded LIFE projects that have similar fields of action, and also with beneficiaries and scientific consultants of similar non-LIFE projects. It is also expected to have frequent exchanges of information with the representatives of European and non-European working groups with significant experience in the fields of interest of the project (in particular Island Conservation for the management of alien animal species in the islands). The project will be presented in at least 3 European conferences (organized in LIFE and non-LIFE projects) in order to encourage replication and transfer of the techniques and solutions adopted. The activity will be carried out for the entire duration of the project

Sub-Action E1.2 Developing of the Dissemination Pack - Implementation of the Dissemination Pack includes:

Bilingual website, with images and videos of areas, species and project actions, institutional information (e.g. notices of selection of collaborators), updates on the progress of actions, downloadable documents. Creating an account on one or more social network platforms will allow you to quickly and effectively disseminate news on the progress of the project and the objectives achieved. The site will be online within 6 months from the start of the project.

Production of information materials - At least 6 different brochures will be produced (Natura 2000 Network in the PNG and PD on the Natura 2000 Network; description of project objectives and actions; fight against alien species in the Tremiti Islands; Senecio inequidens; seabirds nesting in the Tremiti Islands; Callinectes sapidus), each of which printed in 1000 copies. Production of 500 copies of Layman's report in A4 format, of 8 color pages with texts in Italian and English. Notice boards: made and positioned in the 2 main islands of the Tremiti and in the main access routes to the coast in the Brindisi coast. Other panels will be dedicated to specific aspects: myth of shearwaters in the Tremiti islands and their protection, impact of alien species in the islands, interventions for the protection of coastal ecosystems. Drafting and dissemination of a bilingual manual for the replicability and transferability of the project in other geographical areas, intended for local administrations, park authorities, managing bodies of Natura 2000 sites and other stakeholders, which illustrates how to transfer the project to other realities using methodologies and techniques that have proved effective. Particular emphasis will be given to the examination of socio-economic costs and benefits, of primary importance for the replicability of actions such as the eradication of rats in inhabited islands and the containment / eradication of Callinectes sapidus in brackish basins affected by extensive fishing and aquaculture.

Production of video materials - Installation of web cams on at least 3 nests of Calonectris diomedea and / or Puffinus yelkouan on the example of what has been successfully done in similar projects in the Tuscan Archipelago and Tavolara. Production of at least 3 short videos, with text in Italian and subtitles in English, on the objectives of the project, implementation of actions and conservation results. Meetings with the population and stakeholders, final conference.

Meetings with the population and owners of second homes in the Tremiti Islands, in the mainland of PNG and at the PDC.

Meetings with stakeholders in the territories of PNG and PDC: tour operators (including private shipping companies), fishermen, direct farmers, contact persons of the road and railway network managers and municipal administrations in the areas of presence and possible spread of Senecio inequidens.

Final conference organized in order to involve local communities and stakeholders.

One day will be dedicated to managers of Protected areas and Natura2000 sites to facilitate the replicability of the project in other similar contexts and examine the effectiveness of the solutions adopted. A separate event will also be held at the Brindisi coast, to encourage the participation of the population and local stakeholders.

Media work - Activities aimed at disseminating the contents and results of the project to the general public, and at encouraging the dissemination of experience gained and replicability among subjects and stakeholders: press conferences, press releases, articles and reports to be disseminated to general media and through channels most appropriate for the different target audiences.

The action will take place for the entire duration of the project.

E2: Didactic activity in schools

The program foresees the carrying out of didactic activities with the I and II grade schools in the municipalities of the PNG (in particular the Tremiti Islands) and in the PDC. The purpose of the environmental education program is to increase, in a large part of the resident community, the awareness of the value of the territory and of the correct behaviors to be followed in order to safeguard biodiversity. The didactic module will consist of an intervention in the classroom and a guided tour of the project areas. The activities will be entrusted to experts in the field of environmental education who have already worked in environmental education programs within conservation projects. The involvement of the schools of the PNG and the PDC is expected for 50 classes / year (corresponding to about 4000/4500 pupils)

An educational classroom will be created and educational kits will be created.