What is biodiversity and what is it for? What is being done to conserve biodiversity in Italy, in Europe or in the rest of the world? What can I do to help protect the extraordinary wealth of the eco-system in which I live?
These are the questions to which the www.naturaitalia.it portal, presented as the largest aggregator of European databases on the conservation of biodiversity, hopes to provide answers. Developed and launched by the Ministry for the Environment, the site is a window on Italy’s great biodiversity heritage, consisting of 24 National Parks, 27 Protected Marine Areas, 3 Protected National Areas and many other areas of excellence across the country.
The site devotes a special section to biodiversity, with qualitative and quantitative information on Italy’s biodiversity, from genetic diversity through to descriptions of the characteristics of fauna, flora, ecosystems and the landscape. It also presents the main initiatives organised to conserve natural resources at national and international level, with a special focus on protected areas, the conservation of the marine and terrestrial ecosystem and the implementation of a number of international initiatives. The site is linked to the national node of the Clearing House Mechanism (CHM), for the exchange of environmental information as envisaged by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Anyone with primary biodiversity data, information recording observations and samples held in scientific collections may join the National Network for Biodiversity, which collects and makes available to its members biodiversity data collected in Italy.
The portal is not simply an analysis and narration at macro level; it also provides a list of recommendations and suggestions everyone can adopt in their daily lives, such as using water flow restrictors and purchasing products with local provenance, as well as making sure their mutual funds are environmentally responsible. The concept is that everyone is responsible for helping to safeguard biodiversity, without having to revolutionise their way of life.
The section “Vivi le Aree Naturali” – enjoy nature areas – was developed to give everyone the opportunity to discover Italy’s huge wealth of nature, culture and scenery, by providing information and specific advice. For each National Park and Protected Marine Area the site offers maps and detailed fact sheets full of useful information, such as the main attractions, recommended routes, typical products, instructions on getting there, where to stay and eat, and even local weather forecasts. Images, videos, podcasts and, for the Gran Paradiso, d’Abruzzo and della Sila national parks, a direct link with Google StreetView, to bring together all the excellences of the country into a single network. This is especially important for tourism, where the protected areas have already been cooperating thanks to Meet, “Mediterranean Experience of Eco-Tourism”, a project bringing together twenty protected areas of ten different countries in the Mediterranean with the aim of creating an international network of nature parks to foster a common tourism management strategy and promote the distribution of high- and low-season tourist flows among the various countries, based on the experience of the “European Charter for Sustainable Tourism“.