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Project presentation

Welcome to the first issue of the newsletter for the information and communication project "FARENAIT”, co-financed by the LIFE+ program of the European Commission.

The overall aim of this project is to involve people who live and operate in agricultural areas of the Natura 2000 network in Italy in the conservation of biodiversity, through an exchange of knowledge and perceptions between farmers, scientific experts and public administrations.

Natura 2000 is a network created by the European Union for the protection and conservation of habitats and species that are in danger of disappearance in their natural range or that have a small natural range or present outstanding examples of typical characteristics of a biogeographical region.

The establishment of the network aims to preserve species and habitats for which the sites have been identified, taking into account the economic, social and cultural requirements and regional and local characteristics. It aims to ensure long-term survival of these species and habitats and play a key role in protecting biodiversity in the territory, i.e. the set of all genetically different life forms and ecosystems associated with them.

Agriculture has contributed to the creation of many ecosystems rich in biodiversity and contributes to the preservation of countless species. The involvement of farmers working in agricultural areas and rural areas is therefore essential to stop the loss of biodiversity.

Italy is the EU country with the largest cultivated area in percentage terms (43% of the total area). Coexisting in the country today is the landscape of industrial monocultures and the traditional poly-crop farming, The former are characterized by large homogeneous cultural units, with a reduced presence of natural and semi-natural areas within them. The biodiversity they contain is reduced, as opposed to traditional agricultural landscapes, characterized by small farming units of predominantly irregular shape.

FARENAIT, an initiative by a number of partners, including a national environmental NGO (CTS), the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), the Lombardy Region, a national farmers association (Coldiretti) and the Comunità Ambiente company, has the following specific objectives:

a) to raise awareness of Natura 2000 and its benefits among public administrators, farmers and cattleraisers in Italian agricultural and rural areas and contribute to the development of new synergies with the Italian National Rural Network (RRN).

b) to offer opportunities of collaboration and harmonization at national and regional level of environmental and agricultural departments, and other departments which have an influence on the way land is managed (i.e. energy, infrastructures, transport) and are willing to participate so as to promote integration at the policy level to the development of Natura 2000 Network;

c) to facilitate access to regional, national and EU funds aimed at sustainable development in Natura 2000 sites in agricultural and rural areas;

d) to promote exchanges of experiences and practices among public administrators and farmers, and people who live and operate in agricultural and rural areas within Natura 2000 sites.

Actions and means involved: 

In order to reach these objectives, the project foresees a series of actions to be carried out at national level over a period of 36 months.

- Awareness raising and information campaign aimed at public administrators to increase the knowledge in terms of both legal obligations and potential benefits of the European ecological network. The action is also aimed at furnishing support to communication, through the production of a tool kit, with practical indications (a communication manual) and tools (i.e. radio spots, videos, edugame) which can be used to communicate with stakeholders. The project foresees also a contact point to furnish support and technical assistance on communication with stakeholders to public administrations. A special educational tour will be organised in order to facilitate knowledge and exchange of best practices.

- Awareness raising and information campaign aimed at farmers and agricultural firms to increase knowledge of Natura 2000, its essential role in protecting biodiversity and the opportunities it offers to those who operate within European ecological network. This will be carried out in all Italy’s regions through a series of events that will involve also the general public and an educational tour organised for farmers and agricultural firms.

- Awareness raising and information campaign aimed at schools in agricultural and rural districts to strengthen the relationship of young people with the territory they live in and to make them aware of the importance of nature and biodiversity. The campaign will include a special didactic/educational program and a special award for adopting a Natura 2000 site.

- Capacity building activities mainly for public administrators and farmers, through a series of seminars and workshops at regional and local level, which will take place in all Italian regions, to increase stakeholders and target audience technical and cultural competences, in order to implement effective management of Natura 200 sites and development in rural areas. The activities will include a series of workshops aimed at training teachers.

- The preparatory phase will include a survey and a series of workshops with experts from the environment and the agriculture departments at national and regional level, and representatives of national farmers organizations in order to identify main problems or conflicts, and main solutions of operating in Natura 2000 sites in rural/agricultural areas. The results of these activities will be used to prepare the main guidelines of the communication strategy, with objectives, priorities, key messages and key information. At the end of the project a new survey will provide a tool to evaluate the increase of knowledge, awareness and capacity among administrators and farming organizations.

 - Related to the promotion of the project and for dissemination of results, we foresee the production and circulation of information material (leaflets, cards, etc.), the creation of a website, a final conference at European level to communicate main results and networking activities with private and public Italian and European organizations involved in Natura 2000 sites in rural/agricultural areas. The project also foresees media relation activities, for dissemination through the public and private media.