FAGUS contribution to the Natura 2000 network

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The project LIFE+ FAGUS focused on two beech forest priority habitats (9210* and 9220*) that are exclusively found along the Apennine chain and are there relatively widespread.

As a matter of fact, the two habitats occur in a total of 374 sites of the Natura 2000 network, of which 52 sites host both the habitats. The Habitat 9210* occurs in 323 sites that are spread in all the peninsular regions of Italy as well as in Piedmont and Sicily, with a total extent of about 337,000 hectares. The Habitat 9220* occurs in 103 sites across all the peninsular region except from Lazio and Puglia, and in Sicily where the taxonomic uniqueness of the Sicilian fir (Abies nebrodensis) makes this habitat specially relevant. The Habitat 9220* has a total extent of about 45,000 hectares.

Based on these figures, it is evident how the FAGUS project represents an interesting example that may be followed by the numerous public bodies that manage the wide extent of these habitats in Italy, in particular in the Natura 2000 sites.

By conjugating timber provision for the local communities and the conservation of the habitats and of the biodiversity that is related to them, the project suggested some innovative management strategies that may be replicated in several situations. Except form the creation of habitat trees, that is particularly costly and difficult, the other actions developed in the project areas, e.g. thinning in favor of trees other than beech or of large trees and the creation of openings releasing deadwood, can provide relevant amounts of timber and at the same time represent conservation-oriented management of the habitats.

The replicability of these actions in the numerous Natura 2000 areas in which the habitats occur is made easy also by the manual of good practices that was produced during the project. It explains in detail the techniques and procedures, as well as the costs of the actions. This manual was distributed during the final conference of the project and is downloadable from the website.