Project objectives

The main objective of the project LIFE13 NAT/IT/001129 is the conservation and recovery of native populations of two barbel species in the Emilian tributaries of the Po river, in 14 sites of the Rete Natura 2000, through in situ and ex situ interventions as well as the drawing up of guidelines. Italian populations of Common Barbel (Barbus plebejus) and Southern Barbel (Barbus meridionalis, syn. B. caninus) are increasingly declining as also evidenced by the update of the IUCN Red List where the risk status of the two species has been listed as “vulnerable” and “endangered” respectively. In the Emilia Romagna Region the constant qualitative-quantitative decline of populations of both species asks for targeted interventions both at environmental level and with reference to ex situ breeding practices. Starting with the detailed study of the density and distribution of populations, as well as an analysis of threats, the specific objectives of the proposal are as follows:

  1. to create new populations and/or reinforce existing populations, in connection with environmental suitability and the composition of the fish community, through specific in situ interventions (reduction of biodiversity loss /defragmentation) and ex situ breeding practices);
  2. to identify the threats to the survival of the species at a local scale, and open up discussion among stakeholders in order to reduce such threats through an interprovincial approach thanks to a lasting governance for the protection of target species and , indirectly, of river biodiversity;
  3. to eradicate/control the spread of invasive alien species;
  4. to establish guidelines for the conservation and sustainable management of species, also to be used for the creation of a general European model; to transfer best practices.
The project objectives will be achieved in compliance with the IUCN guidelines: such objectives will not affect the conservation of global biodiversity, but rather have a positive impact also on other fish species of community interest such as the Western vairone (Leuciscus souffia), the Mediterranean trout (Salmo macrostigma), the roach (Chondrostoma genei) and the Twaite shad (Alosa fallax), which are present in the area of investigation. The University of Parma is the leader of the project; associated beneficiaries are: the Po river Basin Authority, the Management Body for Parks and Biodiversity of the Western Emilia region, the Foundation Mario Negri Sud, the academic Spin Off Gen Tech S.r.l. and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park. The project will last four years with a total budget of 2,189,378 Euros , 50% of which co-financed by the European Union through the Eu’s financial programme LIFE+. The project encompasses n. 26 specific actions.