To carry out the monitoring of species of Community interest in forest ecosystems thanks to the involvement of the volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps, the Life ESC 360 project proposes a series of targeted actions.
A. Preparatory actions
A.1 Operations for the recruitment of volunteering
The action includes a first step of recruitment through the inclusion of the monitoring project within the ESC (European Solidarity Corps) portal, to become accessible by the volunteers enrolled in the portal. Those who have expressed interest in the project will be interviewed to assess their suitability on the basis of their time availability and motivations. Finally, the official offer to participate in the project will be sent to the volunteers chosen.
Those who have accepted the offer and therefore that will join the project will be able to register in the reserved area of the project website by accessing the specific personalized services regarding the training project and the organization of the volunteer session.
A.2 Preparation of facilities for training and accommodation for volunteers
The action provides for the identification of training and hosting volunteers places.
The training will take place during the first week at the National Laboratory Biodiversity Invertebrates (LANABIT) of Verona, attached to the National Biodiversity Center "Bosco Fontana" classroom equipped for interactive scientific training. The LANABIT has a teaching room, equipped with a L.I.M. projection system, an internet connection, a desk, chairs and counters. The classroom is multi-functional and allows both the conduct of theoretical lessons, and practical exercises of zoology/botany/geology.
Subsequently the volunteers will be located at the facilities of the three monitoring areas:
- Bosco della Fontana State Natural Reserve
- State Natural Reserve Casentinesi c / o Foresteria di Metaleto, Camaldoli, Poppi
- State Nature Reserves in Abruzzo and Molise c/o hotel Fedozzo, "Casera" and "Casermetta" located in Feudozzo (AQ) and RNO Visitor Center Monte Velino at Magliano dei Marsi (AQ).
The residential structures will be renovated and adapted to the project purpose, sanitized, furnished, have beds (rooms from 4 to 12 beds), bathrooms, meeting room and food, internet connection, safety equipment.
A.3 Training of volunteers
A preparatory one-week course will be organized to precede monitoring activities at the LANABIT classroom in Verona. The action is divided into 4 sub-actions
A.3.1 Preparation of the course
The sub-action provides for the identification of the teachers of the course, chosen both within the project staff, and through the call of external professionals; the elaboration of the didactic program, which will be published on the platform before the beginning of the course, and the preparation of the necessary material for the students (powerpoint, pendrive, block-notes, pencil, pen, rubber).
Topics of interest will be included in the program (Habitats Directive, Birds Directive and Natura 2000 Network, principles of biology, ecology and taxonomy, forest management and conservation, monitoring theory) and specialist topics for the tasks that volunteers will play in course of monitoring.
A.3.2 Volunteer Logistics
The following expenses will be guaranteed by the project:
- the initial individual transfer by public transport from the place of residence to the course venue, up to the maximum amount indicated in the regulation.
- group transfer from the course location to the study areas, with a coach rental with driver.
A.3.3 Execution of the course
The course will be held in the first week of each volunteer shift, will last 6 days (Monday to Saturday) for 7 hours of lessons. The course will be preceded by an entrance test aimed at verifying the state of knowledge of the volunteers on the subjects taught.
A.3.4 Final evaluation
At the end of the course students who have attended at least 90% of the lessons will be enabled to perform field monitoring activities. Every absence must be justified. The last afternoon of the course will be dedicated to the final evaluations: satisfaction questionnaire and learning test.
At the end of the course the 45 volunteers will be divided into groups of 15 and transferred to the locations of the 3 areas of study.
A.4 Monitoring in the Natura 2000 network
The action foresees the execution of the monitoring activities by the team of volunteers trained during the courses held at LANABIT. The areas of study in which the monitoring will be carried out are the Natura 2000 sites managed by the Carabinieri Department for Biodiversity (link to the study area and to the maps).
The annual monitoring rounds are 3: spring (March-April), intermediate (May-June), summer (July-August). In the first year of monitoring (2019) the "spring" round will be excluded. Overall, therefore, the monitoring activities will take place for 4 months the first year, 6 months the second year, 6 months the third year in each of the study areas.
Monitoring of species and habitats of community interest listed in the Habitats Directive will be carried out.
• 91AA* - Oriental white oak woods
• 9110 - Beechwoods of Luzulo-Fagetum
• 9130 - Asperulo-Fagetum beech woods
• 9160 - Oaks of English oak or sub-Atlantic oak and Central Europe of the Carpinion betuli
• 9180* - Slope forests, screes and valleys of the Tilio-Acerion
• 9210* - beech woods of the Apennines with Taxus and Ilex
• 9220* - beech woods of the Apennines with Abies alba and beech woods with Abies nebrodensis
• 9510* - South-Apennine forests of Abies alba
• 4060 - Alpine and Boreal heaths
• 5130 - Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands
• 6170 - Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands
• 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (*important orchid sites)
• 6230* - Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on siliceous substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas, in Continental Europe)
The monitoring of the habitats will be used to update the existing information on the dendrometric parameters of the forest stands (diameter, height, volume, density, etc.), on the present forest formations, on the quantitative and quality evaluation of the dead biomass wood and on the evaluation of the conservation status of high-altitude mountain habitats. Furthermore, the presence of alien forest species and possible control actions will be evaluated.
The monitoring will be carried out on species belonging to the group of invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals and the most up-to-date monitoring methods will be used:
• Monitoring of species and habitats of community interest
• Guidelines for the monitoring of the saproxylic beetles protected in Europe
The monitoring will be carried out to evaluate the conservation status of plant species important for the EU (Adonis distorta, Iris marsica e Himantoglossum adriaticum).
Organization of monitoring shifts
Each round consists of a maximum of 15 volunteers supported by a tutor and a logistics assistant. In each round the volunteers will be divided into 1-3 teams according to the planned activities. The monitoring days will have an indicative duration of 6 hours and a weekly day of rest is provided. At the end of the round each volunteer will deliver a report on the activities carried out in order to guarantee a "handover" to the volunteers of the next shift and will complete a learning test.
The volunteers will be guaranteed daily transport from the place of stay to the relevant areas and any intermediate stages. and, at the end of the shift. individual transfer from the place of stay in the study areas to the place of residence.
A.5 Implementation and management of the database on monitoring
A database of the scientific data of the project will be created in which will be inserted all the environmental and faunistic data collected by the volunteers validated by the project tutors. The action will be carried out in connection with ISPRA and the Ministry for the Environment and Protection of the Territory and the Sea (MATTM). The data of the species in the Habitats and Birds Directives will be sent to the Observatories for the Biodiversity of the Regions where the monitoring is carried out (Lombardy, Tuscany, Abruzzo) to ISPRA and to the MATTM for the purposes of the relationship envisaged by art. 17 of the Habitats Directive 43/92 / EEC.
The collected data will also be available on the Project website.
B. Dissemination and communication actions
B.1 Website and service platform
The project is fully presented and constantly updated through the inclusion of new contents at the following official web address:
On the site there is a reserved area accessible to the staff working on the project and to the volunteers.
B.2 Logo, project layout and information support materials
The aim of the action is to promote the project through the production and distribution of a series of cross-media products aimed at both the general public and a smaller audience of experts and institutional actors potentially interested in similar experiences.
Specifically, the following promotional products are planned: Newsletter, slogans, banners, roll-ups, leaflets, information panels to be placed in the areas where the concrete project actions will take place, posters, letterheads, presentations for dissemination activities, video clips, gadgets (mugs, stickers, pins, bookmarks), voluntary kit (hats, t-shirts and vests).
B.3 Information events for the public
In the volunteer reception facilities, information points will be set up (display panels) where the project, the Natura 2000 Network and the European Solidarity Corp will be described.
During each round the volunteers and the tutors will organize events in the study areas to disseminate their experience through different methods: seminars, guided tours, conferences, flash mobs, photo exhibitions, etc.
The following activities are planned.
• Initial project conference (?)
• Participation in scientific and sector meetings, as an opportunity to exchange information and experiences among scientists.
• Final conference, realized at the end of the project, in which all the results will be presented and all the volunteers who took part in the shifts during the 3 years of the project involved will be invited. On this occasion the e-book "The monitoring of forest biodiversity with volunteers - experiences of the Life ESC 360 project" will be presented.
• Volunteer meeting day: all the volunteers involved during the project will be invited to spend a convivial day together, to share these experiences and to exchange tips for the future.
Monitoring is an integral part of many Nature LIFE projects, while the involvement of the European Solidarity Corps volunteers in this activity is new. Networking activities will be carried out with other LIFE projects, both national and international, on monitoring the Natura2000 network and on environmental volunteering.