Discovering the Italian Regional Parks

Showshoes trip in Ossola Regional Parks © Stefania Petrosillo

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Issued by Stefania Petrosillo available in Italian here

Only four days to know the Italian regional parks! Impossible mission?

Nevertheless, Mr. Ulrich Köster (Director) and Mrs Katharina Denkinger (project coordinator) of the Association of German Nature Parks – VDN, accepted the challenge. From 14th to 18th of March, in the framework of the “Europe’s Nature-, Regional-, and Landscape Parks Project” (on which the EUROPARC Federation is partner), Ulrich and Katharina, accompanied by Mrs Stefania Petrosillo (protected areas expert, in charge of the organization of the study tour) traveled across Italy to collect data and information and to have a perception of the rich and composite reality of the regional parks in this country. The decision about which experiences to visit was not easy, with such a network of regional parks in Italy (134)!

vdn. federparchi, europarc italy, italian regional parks

From the left: Ulrich Köster, Katharina Denkinger, Stefania Petrosillo with Federparchi director Francesco Carlucci and Federparchi officer Corrado Teofili © Katharina Denkinger

For the first taste of the Italian complexity, the delegation met Federparchi-Europarc Italia, for a general overview of the Italian protected areas network, the differences of the Regions legal framework, the challenges on nature and culture protection and sustainable agriculture and tourism, and the collaboration between regional and national parks in biodiversity projects.

Next mission’s day: how is it possible to protect and manage the incredible archeological and natural heritage near the city of Rome? A huge representative of the Direction of Environment and Natural System of Lazio Region and of two Regional Parks, Appia Antica and Veio, illustrated their projects, initiatives, results, challenges. The ancient roman Appia Antica road, “tourist destination” since the “Gran Tour” time, is now a vital protected periurban area at disposal for citizens, tourists, shepherds (yes, sheep in the city…), birds, foxes, that the German delegation appreciated with a nice biking tour.

Appia Antica Regional Park, europarc, vdn

Appia Antica Regional Park landscape © Stefania Petrosillo

The mission continued, and the delegation moved from the warm spring in Rome to the white winter in the Alps. Ossola Regional Parks, at the border with Switzerland, welcomed the group with a fairytale snow-white mountains landscape. The management body of this parks network in Piedmont region is engaged in protection of wildlife, such as the beautiful Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix), in dialogue and collaboration with tourism business and farmers (since 2013 the area is awarded with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas), in international cooperation (several common activities are implemented with the Swiss Landschaftpark Binntal). An exciting entire day of snow-shoes hiking with the park President and Director let the group discuss on these topics and, at the same time, really enjoy the place.

Finally, the last day: the delegation came back home, after this short but intensive study tour, full of reciprocal inputs, ideas and will of future collaboration.

A synthesis of the Italian regional parks? Lack of budget and spending review versus invincible passion and commitment of parks managers and staff, and incredible beauty, richness and diversity of nature, culture and history.

The VDN “impossible” mission will continue. 10 countries will be visited to gather detailed information and examples of best practice and good management of the Nature, Regional and Landscape Parks of Europe.

The results of the visits, together with the data collected in a specific survey with the collaboration of the national associations of parks (about over one thousand Nature-, Regional-, and Landscape Parks in Europe, which cover a surface of more than 350,000 square kilometers), will be published and presented to the European Institutions in Brussels. The aim is not to have a perfect detailed knowledge of the “parks-diversity” in Europe, but to communicate towards political decision makers the value and the role they play in the network of protected areas in Europe, and, in the other hand, to highlight the importance of EU-funds for their work.

Ossola Parks, europarc, vdn

From the left: Stefania Petrosillo, Katharina Denkinger, Ossola Parks president Paolo Crosa Lenz, Ossola Parks director Ivano De Negri, Ulrich Köster © Stefania Petrosillo

lazio region, Appia Antica, europarc, vdn

The delegation with the representative of Lazio Region, Appia Antica and Veio regional Parks © Stefania Petrosillo

The “Europe’s Nature-, Regional-, and Landscape Parks Project” is implemented by the Association of German Nature Parks (Verband Deutscher Naturparke e.V., VDN) in collaboration with EUROPARC Federation. The project sponsor is the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit). The project runs from October 2014 to July 2017. For more info about the project please visit