• C.1: Forestry nursery and reforestation

    ACTION C.1: Forestry nursery and reforestation

    The Action is necessary to restore the floodplain oak forest and to maintain the associated wildlife in the adequate conservation status. It aims at producing a good number of healthy tree individuals from seeds of local plant species according to an appropriate phytosanitary protocol, and it is complementary to the Action C2 that aims to promote the establishment of the spontaneous renovation. The seeds of the forest species are harvested in the wood of Palo Laziale and then sent to the nearby nursery set up by ARSIAL for sprinkling and farming. The seedlings are raised in phytocell until about three years when they will be manually planted in the forest of Palo Laziale in sites where the restoration actions will not appropriately accomplish the natural recovery of vegetation. At least 2,500 seedlings (3 years old) of native tree species, including Quercus cerris (40%), Fraxinus ornus (30%), Quercus pubescens (20%), Quercus ilex (10%), will be raised and planted. These percentages are indicative as they will be reviewed according to the forest surveys carried out in action A5. Seed harvesting and sowing are carried out during the first autumn, planting over the last year of the project.

    Fraxinus spp.


    Quercus spp.


    The forest restoration action as a whole will increase the overall resilience of the ecosystem, which is indispensable to guarantee an optimal ecosystemic balance with the temporary ponds (habitat 3170*). In such a way, the ponds will no longer be affected by the shrub invasion and its burrowing-effect. The phytosanitary protocol will be developed by DEB to guarantee the production of seedlings devoid of pathogens and, after testing, it will be transferred in other similar environmental contexts. To guarantee the success of reforestation will also be taken into account the water supply provided by action C3.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

    ARSIAL coordinates the action, supervises the implementation of the phytosanitary protocol, provides a team for the seed harvesting and the plantation of plants. Moreover, it sets up nursery facilities in the premises of its Research and Innovation Agricultural Centre of Cerveteri, which is located only a few kilometres far away from the project area. The nursery team will support the project from the sowing to the breeding phase of the seedlings.

    DEB will employs:

    • an Associated Professor to supervise the seed harvesting, the elaboration of the phytosanitary protocol and the final report;
    • a Laboratory Technician will be involved to monitor the activities carried out in the phytopathology laboratory;
    • a Phytopathologist, experienced in the field of phytopathology and nursing techniques, to supervise the implementation of the nursing activities and the field actions (seed harvesting and seedling plantation), and to elaborate the phytosanitary protocol.
  • C.2: Habitat recovery: bush trimming and realisation of temporary ponds

    ACTION  C.2: Habitat recovery: bush trimming and realisation of temporary ponds

    The Action aims at promoting forest renewal in the two project sites by limiting shrub spreading and burying of temporary ponds (habitat 3170*). The ponds are also restored by carrying out specific excavation works.

    Selective shrub cutting and restoration of the floodplain oak woodland

    Weeds and invasive shrubs are removed, especially Rubus species. In contrast, the regeneration of the typical tree species of the floodplain oak woodland, such as Quercus cerris, Q. pubescens, Fraxinus ornus, is preserved. In Palo Laziale, the trimming is carried out for about 40 ha in the central part of the Natura 2000 site. In Nestos Delta shrub removal is carried out in 40 hectares of habitat 91E0* as well as around two of the eight temporary ponds because invasive shrub species are encroaching. Restoring the habitat includes clearing the vegetation that covers and falls into the temporary ponds. The shrub removal is beneficial for the survival of the associated EU species Emys orbicularis, Testudo hermanni and Callimorpha  quadripunctaria*.

    Two consecutive interventions are planned:

    • a) a first intervention is carried out at the initial stage of the Project. The activity targets bigger individuals to eliminate about 70% of the shrubs to facilitate seedling growth. Total elimination of the bushes may cause excessive soil exposure, excessive soil evapotranspiration and damage to forest renewal.
    • b) a second intervention is planned one year after the first intervention to eliminate residual shrubs, that still compete with the emerging seedlings.

    This Action is made possible by the results of action A5 which give detailed information on the localisation and the plant typologies that have to be removed, as well as the extent of the shrub- cutting work required.

    Shrub-cutting and digging out of new temporary ponds

    In Palo Laziale, three circular areas of about 0.13 ha each (a total of 0.4 hectares) are identified for the implementation of new temporary ponds. The identification is supported by the topographic relief and the soil analysis carried out in Action A2 and A3, respectively. The topographic survey provides suitable areas where the meteoric water flow converges optimally, allowing a natural filling of the ponds during the wet season, while the soil survey indicates soils with a waterproof clay substrate, which is indispensable for the persistence of the ponds. The vegetation covering these sites eliminated and, then, a maximum of 50 cm-excavation is carried out to implement the temporary ponds. The same methodology is applied in Nestos Delta to create a new temporary pond, at a site to be defined, covering an area of 0,1 ha. Keystone species are introduced in the ponds through the activities planned in Action C6, and plant experts will monitor the progress of vegetation.

    Shrub-cutting in the construction area

    In the area where the water tank will be set up (Action C3), it will be necessary to eliminate the vegetation. This intervention will be carried out in an area of approximately 2,200 m2 that will be precisely identified after the preparation of the Action Plan (Action C3), and according to action A2. The cutting will be performed using non-invasive mechanical appliances by a team of forest workers under the supervision of one Forestry Technician (expert in the field of forestry management). The resulting material will be used to produce organic fertiliser and mulch that will be reused on-site.

    Fencing of temporary ponds

    Permanent open wooden pole fences of chestnut-wood posts 8-10 cm in diameter are established around the eight ponds of Nestos Delta, with a total perimeter of about 800 m. Fencing access control is needed to prevent vehicle traffic which is the main cause of disturbance and degradation of the target habitat. Specifications are to be provided at the beginning of this Action through the cooperation with the Forestry Service and IMFE.


    Establishment of signboards with information about the project, Natura 2000 and target habitats and species is implemented at the main entrances of the two sites, at the fenced ponds and inside the priority habitat 91E0*.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

    ARSIAL is responsible for the implementation of the Action in Palo Laziale.

    HSPN and IMFE cooperate in Nestos Delta.

    ARSIAL commits:

    • a Foresty Technician (internal) to provide scientific supervision on the plan for the shrub-cutting works;
    • a Forestry Technician (external) with in-depth knowledge and documented experience in the field of forest ecosystems and GIS to draft a detailed plan for the bush-cutting work and to coordinate the entire cutting and digging process.
    • a team of forest workers (external) for implementing the shrub-cutting (40 ha) and digging of the new ponds (0.40 ha). They will use non-invasive eco-friendly practices. The resulting material will be used to produce organic fertiliser and mulch to be reused on-site.

    HSPN commits a Technical Officer to supervise the realisation of the fence of the temporary ponds of Nestos.

    IMFE commits a Forestry Technician to plan and supervise the bush-trimming activities.

    IMFE commits a Forestry Technician to plan and supervise the bush-trimming activities.

  • C.3: Hydraulic interventions for habitat recovery and conservation

    ACTION  C.3: Hydraulic interventions for habitat recovery and conservation

    The hydraulic intervention aims at mitigating the aridity due to climate change that has affected the two project sites over the last decades. The system is designed to ensure a proper water balance to the forest ecosystem by providing a supplementary water resource during the driest periods. It is based on the interception of surface waters, limiting rapid runoff of rainfall, and loss of a precious quantity of water. Meteoric water and surface runoff are intercepted by a drainage trench which stores collected water during the rainy periods (November-February) in an underground tank, and release it during the drought periods. Water flows naturally by gravity towards the distribution network.

    The system has a demonstrative character to propose the use of hydraulic solutions, typically used in the field of irrigation (installation of a drainage trench, underground tanks and gravity water distribution network), in the restoration of threatened and degraded forest ecosystems. It meant to be a suitable solution for the adaptation to climate change, and a good option to mitigate climate change effects. The mechanism of water distribution for gravity allows energy independence and reduced environmental effects (no use of fossil fuels needed to operate pumps and distribution channels), the underground tank ensures low visual impact. The channels are covered with local excavation material with no use of concrete.

    The water accumulated in the underground tank is released onto a forest surface of about 5 hectares by a remotely controlled pumping system powered by solar panels. The network of channels contains micro-cracked pipes that guarantee a requisite amount of moisture in the soil during dry months, allowing the maintenance of suffering tree species. The water supply is essential to mitigate aridity and to reduce soil salinity and sodicity. This operation is expected to last up to 30 years. After 30 years, the ecosystem is expected to have reached a state of balance that will require little human intervention.

    The mitigation of aridity attributed to climate change will allow, together with the other conservation actions, to:

    • recover the woodland of the Natura 2000 site of Palo Laziale and the ecological conditions necessary for restoring and conserving the associated Mediterranean temporary ponds (habitat 3170*);
    • restore and conserve 40 ha of the alluvial forest (habitat 91E0*) located along the final section of the river Nestos in the Natura 2000 of Nestos Delta habitat and the ecological conditions necessary for restoring and conserving the associated Mediterranean temporary ponds (habitat 3170*).

    In this way, the restoration of the woodland will also improve the delicate ecological connection of the sites and, therefore, the conservation of the related wildlife, including E. orbicularis, T. hermanni and C. quadripunctaria* (Habitat Directive 92/42/CEE).

    The construction of the trenches and the water tank will be carried out during the summer/fall of 2020 to collect seasonal rainfall that will be released already over the following spring/summer. The system will remain enabled throughout the 5-years project and beyond for a period of a maximum of 30 years.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

    The Dep. DICEA of Sapienza Univerisity coordinates the action, including the design of the whole hydraulic system.

    DICEA employs:

    • 1 Associate Professor to provide execution of the project, technical supervision of the works and revision of the technical reports;
    • 1 Environmental Engineer to supervise the implementation of the system in the field and to prepare the technical reports;
    • 1 Researcher to provide technical advice on water requirements of topsoil, and to supervise the creation of the drainage and water distribution network;
    • 5 students in environmental engineering to follow the interventions as extra-curriculum (non-paid).
  • ACTION  C.4: Sustainable Forest Strategic Management Plan (SFSMP)

    To ensure the efficacy of the forestry action, a Strategic Management Plan for Forest Sustainability (SFSMP) of the Palo Laziale wood will be elaborated according to the current regulations of the Lazio Region (R.L. October 28, 2002, 39 "Rules on the management of forest resources"). This plan will comprehend the data on the structure, composition and dynamics of the woodland. It defines the right density and composition of the woodland and describes the correct practices needed to avoid excessive competition between the trees for resources. This is one of the crucial conditions to prevent recurrence of new stresses in the future. Proper management of the woodland is also essential for maintaining the hydrological cycle and water balance of the site to positively counteract the adverse effects of climate change on forest and temporary ponds. The presence of adequate forest canopy is crucial to ensure an appropriate concentration of moisture in the air. The animal species living in these habitats will also benefit from the implementation of the Management Plan. It will be drawn up by a fully-fledged forest technician (as required by the regulations) after field surveys and by using the reliefs carried out in Actions A2 and D4. After completion, it will be delivered to the Lazio Region for revision and approvement. The SFSMP will immediately come into force and will be compulsorily put in force by the wood owners for at least 30 years. At that point, the ecosystems should be independent of external interventions. Regarding Nestos Delta, the SFSMP will focus 40 ha of the alluvial forest (habitat 91E0*. Forestry Services of Kavala will review and accept the plan.

    Both plans, with no production purposes, will be developed during the last year of the Project to ensure the completion of the restoration actions and, thus, to assess the new physiognomy of the woodland after the project interventions. Only after the recovery of the woodland, it will be possible to make a proper planning of future conservation measures. The SFSMPs will also serve to define good practices for naturalistic management of woodlands (e.g. ensuring sufficient amounts of standing and fallen dead wood, conservation of overall biodiversity, etc) where the combination of freshwater and forest ecosystems creates typical c.onditions of Mediterranean coastal environments. The conclusions will be summarised into a handbook on restoration and management of the targeted forest habitats.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

    ARSIAL for the Wood of Palo Laziale (Italy)

    IMFE for the alluvial forest of Nestos Delta (Greece)

    ARSIAL employs:

    • a Researcher to supervise the preparation of the SFSMP and to ensure its coherence with the restoration and conservation purposes of the Project;
    • a qualified Forestry Technician (as required by law) with in-depth knowledge and proved experience in forest ecosystem monitoring and GIS. The technician will carry out field surveys and data processing, elaborate the Plan and the related maps as required by the regional regulations, and deliver the Plan to the competent offices of the Lazio Region.

    IMFE employs:

    • a qualified Forestry Technician (as required by law) with in-depth knowledge and proved experience in forest ecosystem monitoring and GIS. The technician will carry out field surveys and data processing, elaborate the Plan and the related maps as required by the regional regulations, and deliver the Plan to the competent authority.
  • C.5: Management Plan for Water Resources and weather monitoring

    ACTION  C.5: Management Plan for Water Resources and weather monitoring

    The Plan is deemed to define the optimal use of the meteoric and surface water collected by the hydraulic system implemented through Action C3. It will be drawn up based on the historical data and climate trends identified for the two project areas. Soil characteristics, evaporation and evapotranspiration will also be taken into consideration (Actions A3, D5) as additional indicators. Through the Plan, it will be possible to quantify the water supply needs for the habitats and, thus, to define the amount of water that will be released through the hydraulic system. In this respect, weather parameters (e.g. precipitation, temperature, humidity of the soil, etc.) and reference thresholds will be identified and monitored, in particular during the critical phases of the year (spring/summer). This will allow, upon the occurrence of specific conditions, to operate by remote control the release of the water resource accumulated in the distribution network limiting the effect of aridity on local ecosystems.

    In addition to the data gathered under Action A4, two weather stations are installed in both sites. The stations detect temperature, precipitation, humidity of the soil and other parameters (complete list and download for Palo Laziale at http://www.arsial.it/portalearsial/agrometeo/D20.asp) and are powered by solar panels to reduce the environmental impact. The collected data are transmitted in real-time to ARSIAL and IMFE aggregator systems via GPRS technologies.

    The Plan will continue to be operated by ARSIAL and Managing Authority of the National Park of Nestos, in Italy and Greece, respectively, even after the end of the Project.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

    DEB coordinates the action, analyses the weather data and elaborates the Water Resources Management Plan.

    ARSIAL installs the weather station in Palo Laziale and aggregates the recorded data. It will also control the remote command to regulate the flow of the water stored in the underground tank implemented through Action C3.

    IMFE is responsible for the installation of the weather station in Nestos Delta, data aggregation and operating of the remote control.

    DEB employs:

    • a Researcher for the technical-scientific supervision of the action;
    • a Climate Analysis Expert (external), with experience in the creation of climatic databases and environmental modelling, to collect the data and prepare the Water Management Plan.

    ARSIAL commits:

    • a worker for the installation of the weather station and its maintenance;
    • a Technical Officer to supervise the installation of the weather station, to aggregate and manage the weather data, and to activate the remote control for the use of water resources following the procedures of the Water Management Plan.

    IMFE employs:

    • a Researcher for the technical-scientific supervision of the action;
    • a Climate Analysis Expert (external), with experience in the creation of climatic databases and environmental modelling, to collect the data and prepare the Water Management.


  • C.6: Ex-situ conservation and propagation of keystone species of target habitats

    ACTION  C.6: Ex-situ onservation and propagation of keystone species of target habitats

    This action includes the creation and operation of a seed bank for keystone plant species of the target habitats (temporary ponds, alluvial forests and arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis) and the propagation of these species for habitat restoration. The Action starts in the first year of the project with the identification of the species (Action A6) and the collection of genetic material (seeds or ramets) for reproduction. Collection will take place in the appropriate season for each plant species and it will be repeated for at least 3-4 years (in some species the annual seed production is occasionally diminished or null). It will be carried out either manually, for most herbs and shrubs, or by telescopic scissors for tall or inaccessible individuals or, where possible and appropriate, by gasoline aspirators or lawnmowers. The genetic material will be appropriately treated and stored or cultivated according to International Standards. Seed cleaning, separation and sorting will be done manually at the seed bank of ARSIAL and IMFE, in Italy and Greece, respectively. Seeds of all species will be stored at the seed bank of the Botanical Garden of Rome and in the University of Forestry and Environment of Drama. Germination treatments for the production of seedlings, where necessary for dormant seeds, will be managed at the establishments of IMFE. Cultivation of plants to be used for restoration will be done at the establishments of the Forestry Services of Kavala and ARSIAL for Greece and Italy respectively.

    A specimen of Isoetes spp. from Palo Laziale (Rome). 

    Ex-situ conservation of genetic material is a complement of in-situ conservation, necessary to provide long-term insurance against catastrophic events and to facilitate plant re-introduction or population enhancement when necessary. For instance, after the destructive fires of 2007 in Greece, the reforestation of Pinus nigra forests was extremely difficult due to the lack of available seedlings or seeds.

    Beneficiary responsible for implementation:






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