The integrated strategy for the Natura 2000 network follows a three-years “preparatory course”, the project LIFE GESTIRE- “Development of a strategy to manage the Natura 2000 network in Lombardy” (LIFE 11 NAT EN 044), also funded on European programme LIFE +. GESTIRE has gathered much of the information available on the management of Natura 2000 network in Lombardy, highlighting what does work in the management of N2K, what are the critical issues and what it is needed to work in order to improve the efficiency of the Natura 2000 areas, ensuring and improving the conservation status of habitats and species. This was accomplished also through many meetings with the Managing Bodies of the sites, who have pinpointed the problems, needs and priority actions on which the Natura 2000 system must focus its efforts. The two main products of the project are the Planning Document and an updated version of the PAF – Prioritized Action Framework.

The Planning Document, based on the achievements of the project actions, outlined the objectives and strategies that the Lombardy Region will carry out between now and 2020.

Three years of work with the involvement of the management bodies of Natura 2000 sites and a team of partners with expertise on issues regarding the management of N2K made it possible to collect and process the information needed to identify critical issues and opportunities for its future management, in particular:

  • An analysis of management costs, a study on the funding used and a financial plan have resulted in an increase of knowledge of the economic and human resources available and of the future needs for an improved implementation of the network.
  • The definition of a methodology for the payment of ecosystem services and an analysis of “green jobs” linked to Natura 2000 will help to promote future activation of funds for the implementation of conservation measures and to promote jobs for a sustainable development within Natura 2000 areas.
  • An accurate analysis of legislation relating to the management of the network has highlighted the critical issues related to their application.
  • A communication plan has also been drawn up and implemented to raise awareness of biodiversity issues, starting from a situation of widespread lack of knowledge of the European ecological network.

Finally conservation measures for all sites have been identified, in collaboration with management bodies, in order to comply with the requirements of the Habitats Directive and to transform the Sites of Community Interest (SCI) in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs ).

The Lombardy region has also adopted a scientific monitoring plan for plant and animal species based on the current size of the regional natural heritage and linked to the available data at biogeographical level, so as to fulfil the needs of knowledge necessary under the article 17 of the Habitats Directive.

GESTIRE 2020 implements a part of the Prioritized Action Framework and responds to certain critical issues identified in the LIFE GESTIRE project.

How? Some examples:

GESTIRE has revealed a widespread lack of specific competence of actors involved in the Natura 2000 network management, including the staff of the management bodies of the sites. With GESTIRE2020 specific dedicated training sessions will be designed and implemented, to close these gaps and improve the overall knowledge and expertise of management bodies.

GESTIRE has highlighted how the number and variability of the management bodies of Natura 2000 does not in some circumstances allow an optimal management of the sites. With GESTIRE2020 innovative governance models will be tested, in order to find the optimal management solutions.

GESTIRE has highlighted that there is need for concrete actions in order to maintain and improve the conservation status of habitats and species of Community interest in Lombardy. There is a need for many actions, some of which are very urgent. With GESTIRE2020 some of the priority interventions will be implemented: restoration of habitats of Community interest and habitats necessary for the survival of the species, projects aimed at the ecological reconnection of the territory, enforcement actions against the introduction of alien species.

GESTIRE has revealed a lack of knowledge and awareness of the citizens of Natura 2000 and its value. In GESTIRE2020 each action line foresees communication and knowledge dissemination methods for the general public, in order to to ensure that the value of biodiversity is shared by all.

The GESTIRE project has drawn up a monitoring program for species and habitats. This will be implemented in GESTIRE2020 through the involvement of the territory and of experts and will be useful for monitoring the status of conservation of species and habitats and to evaluate the effectiveness of the specific interventions implemented.