Ali - March 2008

Editorial March 2008

One door closes, another opens

A question I'm often asked is, "Is all the effort expended on anti-poaching producing any results?" And the simple answer to that is "Yes.. and No!", let me explain...

The anti-poaching camps on the Straits of Messina, supported by LIPU-UK for as long as we have existed have been an unqualified success. With other NGOs and the Corpo Forestale the dark days of the early 1990s are a thing of the past. There is no longer violence to the volunteers as in the bad old days and the mass slaughter of migrating Honey Buzzards has given way to isolated incidents. As a result of this success the numbers of Forest Guards has been reduced and we may see some fluctuation of offending, there is no room for complacency but there is for some satisfaction. The camp will continue but for fewer days and more emphasis is to be placed on monitoring and surveying the migration patterns but always on the look out for any outbreak of shooting.

That good news is offset by the continuing problem of trapping of song birds in the north of the country driven by restaurants prepared to pay one Euro for every robin delivered to them. You will read a short piece detailing the efforts of LIPU Inspector Piergiorgio Candela and his band of volunteers as they hunt for the archetti traps on the hillsides surrounding idyllic looking villages such as the one on the front cover. This work, also consistently supported by LIPU-UK, is likely to go one for years to come before the problem is solved.

Now a new problem has arisen and that is found in the Basso Sulcis area of Sardinia in the Cagliari province. Long lines of nets are put up to catch thrushes in the autumn, mostly Redwing and Song Thrush, some are resident and many are migrants, and these birds are also being caught "for the pot"€. In addition to the nets, snares made from horse hair and other things are set as can be seen in the inside back page and these also take their toll of the passing birds.

How does this affect the British section? We have extended our offer of support this year to cover five projects instead of the traditional four and will be funding the anti poaching work in Sardinia. I am hoping to attend the LIPU AGM at the end of May and I shall be asking Giovanni Malara who organises this vital work if there is more that LIPU-UK can do. Until then may I ask you to read about our project support for 2008 and support the annual appeal to fund these works with your usual generosity - Thank you.

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IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT BIRDWATCHING

It is essential for us to seek strategic cooperation on big environmental issues, because LIPU does not have the answers to everything. However, in doing so we must keep faith with our conservation objectives.

There are many organizations, including ours, that have the conservation of nature as one of their main objectives. But what is our role among this myriad of groups, all working towards a better environmental future for our country? Although we agree on the common roots that bind us - love for birds, forests, wetlands and mountains - doubts arise when turning our attention from principles to the practical problems of protection and conservation.

Clearly LIPU is concerned with oases, parks, reserves and important bird areas, especially in Europe. But, just as in the past LIPU had a long-running debate over joining the anti-nuclear and other campaigns, today there is a similar internal debate over whether to participate actively in environmental issues which are relevant, but not directly connected to nature. Our strategic policy states that LIPU should pay attention to these wider environmental issues, but should only act by collaborating with organizations that are better qualified. The reason for this is simple: we cannot have answers to everything. We cannot always form opinions on questions requiring specialised knowledge, and which have a direct effect on people’s lives. Sometimes we lack the necessary competence and experience to do so.

Nevertheless we feel we can make a contribution, at least culturally. We are committed to helping people understand the importance of good habits and a healthy lifestyle. Economic development is creating many contradictions for our environment, and we have described some of these controversies on the pages of Ali in recent years. Developments such as the Moses flood barrier in Venice; the bridge over the Straits of Messina; the enormous theme park at the mouth of the river Neto; and most recently, the insane idea of building a scale replica of the whole of Europe on the Po Delta, a replica covering more than 100 square kilometres! Incredibly we still don't know who is financing this proposal, to a cost of billions of Euro.

We are working with other environmental associations (principally WWF and Legambiente, but also Italia Nostra, VAS, Comitato per il Paesaggio, Altura and many others), to arrive at a destination we could not reach on our own. This is why, in Florence, we support the Committee Against Removal of the Tramlines. This is why last 19th January, through the local LIPU branch, we supported the Legambiente demonstration calling for a proper rubbish-disposal policy in Campania. This is why we support a moratorium on wind farming, until proper guidelines have been published.

The environmental world rarely seems to have a common vision when it comes to dealing with these issues. Journalistic orthodoxy divides environmentalists into two camps: the "€no"€ camp; and the "realists" - those more willing to help find a solution to problems. And what about us? Our approach is not to be ideological, but to be true to our conservation objectives: birds, biodiversity, and the various areas in Italy, prioritised according to these values. Therefore it is sometimes important that we say no. However, we see each "no" as an upside-down "yes". A "no" to the destruction of a natural area is really a "yes" in favour of a healthy environment.

We think it is essential that the debate on each "solution" should consider all aspects of the problem: for example we cannot analyse the development of renewable energy without considering its impact on the environment. This is one issue where we have found ourselves occupying a very distant position from Legambiente and Greenpeace. Yet we don'€t believe in taking a dogmatic view. We also believe that such differences are a real asset for the environmental movement. This is especially true when they arise from an open, straightforward, non-ideological and non-prejudicial debate. And it is even more true when they are consequences of a political stand as opposed to a party-political stand. The latter approach could lead to the death of Italian environmentalism. Let us keep our own cultural and ideological independence so that we can continue to make an important contribution to "civil society" in our country.

PROTECTED SPECIES - OUR PROJECTS

Claudio Celada, Conservation Director

From protection of habitats to monitoring population trends through reintroduction projects and control of agricultural policies: the effort to avoid extinction of the most vulnerable species must be constant and unfaltering.

A difficult challenge

LIPU in Italy and BirdLife International on a global scale have always had as their main aim to prevent further extinction of bird species. This requires the monitoring and censusing of all species, the identification of threats, and an active plan to help threatened populations to recover in number. First and foremost, it is necessary to halt the destruction of natural habitats but some species also require specific Action Plans on an International and National scale. In Italy examples are the Action Plans for the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) and the Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus).

Across the world.

Thanks to BirdLife International we have a list of those species that are most threatened with extinction. From the year 1500 to today we have lost 154 species, 45 of which occurred since the year 1900. Since 1990 only two species are known to have become extinct in the wild: the Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) and the Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis), but they both survive in captivity and may be subject to reintroduction programmes. There are an estimated 189 species which are threatened globally; for some of these the negative population trend has been reversed and there is hope for the future. An example is the Kakapo, a nocturnal flightless parrot indigenous to New Zealand. It was described for the first time in 1845, and in 1894 the need for protection of the species was already apparent. The presence of the Kakapo is now limited to two islands devoid of predators off the shore of Fiordland, and where they have been translocated from Steward Island. In 1997 the population started to grow again, but one must underline the economic effort of the New Zealand Government to save this species. Sometimes extraordinary resightings happen, like the one involving the Ivory-billed Woodpecker ( Campephilus principalisi) in Arkansas, USA. This woodpecker had been last seen in 1944, and never since, until 2004. The proof of its reappearance involve seven resightings, a poor-quality video, and some recordings of calls. The US Government budgeted $10 million for the monitoring and action programme of this species.

In Europe.

The most threatened European species are first of all the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) which was recorded the last time in the UK in 1998, and maybe in Albania in 2007. The only known breeding ground for this migratory species is in Siberia and the population estimate is of maximum 50 individuals. Secondly, the Heremite Ibis (Geronticus eremita) which survives with only 10 individuals in Syria and a population of few hundred birds in Morocco. For this species there are on-going conservation programmes with the involvement of BirdLife International.

In Italy.

Italy does not have any Critically Endangered species threatened on a global scale, but it has a high responsibility for the conservation of the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanii), since 15% of the global population breeds in Italy, sometimes in large colonies. This species has adapted to nest in holes in the old buildings of historic city centres: this is an interesting situation because the conservation of a threatened species is linked to an urbanised setting. In Italy we experienced the disappearance of the Eurasian Black Vulture (also known as Monk Vulture) (Aegypius monachus) in 1961, of the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) in 1968, now re-introduced and present with 2-3 breeding pairs, of the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) in 1977, of the Small-button Quail (Turnix sylvatica) sometimes after 1920, to mention the most notorious examples. We now fear for the impending extinction of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the Bonelli's Eagles (Hieraatus fasciatus), the Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), which are species localised only in the South of Italy. In case of local extinctions it is possible to start reintroduction plans involving captive-bred individuals or birds coming from other geographic areas. However, preliminary studies are needed (Feasibility Plans) and they must take into consideration the consequences of these reintroductions. First of all the causes of the decline must be removed before any bird is reintroduced. The two main success reintroduction plans by LIPU have been that of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) and the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) in Sicily.

The activity of LIPU.

Recently, thanks to the support of LIPU-UK, our monitoring activities have been covering the following threatened species: the Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the Mediterranean Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax), as well as the spring migration of diurnal birds of prey such as the Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus). For some species projects also involve the study of causes of decline, and direct conservation actions, such as in the case of the Little Bustard in Sicily. An environmental analysis is highlighting loss off habitat as the main cause of decline of this species, due to agriculture practices that do not respect biodiversity.

Some of the main projects

Purple Gallinule

In Sicily 104 individuals coming from Spain have been reintroduced in three nature reserves. Their fate has been monitored to identify their survival rate and their ability to acclimatise to Sicilian wetlands. The trend has been very different across the three nature reserves; climatic events have influenced the fate of the original reintroduced birds, but the best situation appears to be at the Foce del Semento, near Catanzaro, where, a year after release the birds started to breed, now an event involving more and more pairs. Since 2004 the species has been recorded outside the reintroduction zone. A breeding nucleus of birds formed spontaneously in the gulf of Ponte Barca a Paternà, near Catanzaro. The overall population in Sicily is now estimated to be of 60-72 pairs.

Lesser Kestrel

The project "A house for the Lesser Kestrel - Practical actions for the conservation of the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) in Puglia and Basilicata€" based on the contribution of the Nando Peretti Foundation, is the most important conservation action for this species in the last 10 years in the Murgia area, in the Puglia region. The use of artificial nest sites is one of the most important practical conservation tools because it is feasible even for members of the public. For the first time, LIPU tried this conservation action for the Lesser Kestrel. It is known that the use of nest boxes is usually low for the first couple of years for any species, and the Lesser Kestrel is no exception: in a study of the colony at Santeramo in Colle, near Bari (Puglia region), between 2003 and 2005 the occupancy rate went up from 12% in the first year, to 38% in the second year, to 58% in the third year.

Little Bustard

In the 2007 breeding season monitoring sessions have been conducted in three Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Sardinia at Campi di Ozieri (IBA 173), Altopiano di Campeda (IBA 177), and Altopiano di Abbasanta (IBA 179). There, 103 listening stations for calls have been carried out, randomly chosen and starting from the road near the IBA boundary, and conducted every 500 metres from the starting point. Each “listening station” have been monitored for 10 minutes, and data on the presence/absence of the Little Bustard, of other species, and the agricultural habitat have been collected. There, 61 males of Little Bustard and 24 Stone Curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) have been recorded.

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A WORRYING PROSPECT

The Atlas of European breeding birds at the end of the century and climatic change

Marco Gustin, LIPU Species and Research Officer

An increase in temperature of around three degrees could cause severe harm to the wild birds of Europe. The geographical area in which they live and reproduce today will shift about 550 kilometres to the north-east, reducing their range by an average of 20%. The distribution of reproductive ranges of the European avifauna, between now and the end of the century, is in danger of substantial change for many species, and the picture that is forecast for 2070-2099 will indeed be very different from the present one. All of this has been analysed in the Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds, produced by the University of Durham and the RSPB: a research project carried out for 461 species of birds currently nesting on the continent, which indicates which areas will have climates similar to the present by the end of the century. Between 115 and 120 species risk extinction, or at least severe fragmentation, because there is only a 10% overlap between old and new climate zones in respect of their current area of distribution, and, moreover, there will be a significant reduction in the average number of breeding species per square kilometre.

The areas richest in their total complement of species will edge towards the northerly countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland will have more species than those towards the south. In some cases there is no overlap between the present and future climatic zones, and the loss of ideal habitat will impact in particular on the arctic, sub-arctic and Iberian species, and those with a very localised distribution. This will result in reductions in range of as much as 80%. The species most affected will be the most localised and the endemics. Their survival will in consequence depend on the availability of habitats adapted to the new climate zones, and the ability to translocate to and commence breeding in them. There are other factors in this future distribution of birds not analysed in the present study: latitude, habitat destruction in the intervening years, changes in vegetation patterns. In Italy 60% of the species nesting in the peninsula are at risk: 141 will undergo a shrinkage in their breeding range, and only 22% of Italian species will see stability or increase. It will also come about that 19 species will nest for the first time in Italy, 12 from Spain, 7 from Greece, and among them such great rarities as the Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Rufous Bush-Robin. Azure-winged Magpie, Long-legged Buzzard, Crested Coot, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Red-necked Nightjar, White-rumped Swift, Calandra and Thekla Larks and Black Wheatear. A very worrying prospect then, as over half of Italy's breeding birds will undergo a decline, some will disappear and for many there will be a sharp reduction in their breeding range.

Species at risk of extinction in Italy: 15 (5.7% of the total): Storm Petrel, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Egret, Goosander, Red-footed Falcon, Barbary Partridge, Little Crake, Dotterel, Black-tailed Godwit, Audouin's Gull, Whiskered, Black and White-winged Terns, Ural Owl, White-backed Woodpecker.

Species which will undergo a contraction of the breeding range: 141 (53.8% of the total)

Stable species: 40 (15.3% of the total)

Species which will expand: 17 (6.5% of the total)

Species of uncertain status: 30(11.4% of the total)

New breeding species for Italy:19 (7.2% of the total)

Italian species covered by the Atlas: 262

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FRIENDS OF LIPU

Passionate about Owls

Lia Pierotti owns one of the biggest collections of objects inspired by Owls. A passion also evident in her long-standing friendship with LIPU

Already a member of LIPU in 1991, Lia Pierotti is a long-standing friend of the League. Her love for nature shows in one of the biggest collections of objects inspired by the Owl. Here, in her own words, is how this passion came about. "A beautiful Owl appears on the coat of arms of a property of mine in Tuscany and I have had it reproduced on my letter paper and on my book-labels. But I began to collect Owls in Rio de Janeiro years and years ago. In the garden of my hotel there was an exhibition of jewellery and, wandering through, I saw a silver pendant in the form of a Owl. I thought that it was really lovely and that it would be a beautiful souvenir of that trip. That was the very first Owl of my collection. I have often worn it; I really liked it and I think that it brought me luck. Since then I have always had a Owl with me and, wherever I went, if I came across one I bought it. I went to see the setting free of some birds which, taken in wounded and looked after by LIPU, were then going to be released into the wild: an event which was very exciting and which I will never forget. Of course, it was an Owl! I have read everything I can about them, about the way they live and about the different legends concerning them, including many, full of meaning, hidden in the Horoscope by the American Indians. Knowing this passion of mine, my sons and nieces and all my friends never lose a chance to give me presents of owls in all shapes and sizes. And that’s how, over the years, my collection has become really special. And of course there are some for every taste: valuable, ethnic, spiritual, antique, lumpy, ones which make noises, funny, colourful, tiny... These are my Owls which make me happy and more than anything, keep me company". Lia Pierotti is also an author of note and a chapter of her latest book “The re-evaluation of the Goose... and of other maltreated animals” (ed. Lombardi, 2006) is dedicated entirely to her friend: the Owl.

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A PROJECT DEDICATED TO THE CONSERVATION OF BIRDS OF NATURE NETWORK 2000 SITES

In 2007 the regional government of Lazio commissioned LIPU to carry out a project which would monitor the populations of priority bird species in the Nature Network 2000 sites. These sites were given legal recognition at a European level as being of fundamental importance for the conservation of birds and biodiversity in general.

The project had four broad objectives. In the first place we wanted to investigate whether the European financial measures have been of help in managing the sites and how these could be utilized for conserving threatened species. Then there was an analysis of the distribution, actual and potential, of two representative species. These were the Alpine Chough in the mountainous rural Apennines and the Short-toed Eagle in mixed woods and low lying rural areas.

The third aim was to monitor all those species considered to be a priority in the two special protection areas in Lazio. The fourth and last objective was to look at how far awareness of the implications of Nature Network 2000 has spread. The results show that the European contribution has borne little fruit, either in moving agriculture towards more eco-friendly practices or in promoting conservation. The Alpine Chough is doing well and is found in most of the suitable locations. The same cannot be said for the Short-toed Eagle which is absent from many sites which would be suitable but are subject to excessive human interference.

More than thirty people have worked on the project in eighteen zones for special protection. More than forty sites for the Short-toed Eagle were recorded and forty nesting sites for the Alpine Chough. With 138,000 hectares of ZPS surveyed and a report of around 1500 pages this has been a crucial and very satisfying task.

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RESERVES AND CENTRES

Campocatino Oasis, situated in the Apuan Alps Park has been enriched with the addition of the Monte Roccandagia Nature Reserve.

By Ugo Faralli, Manager of LIPU Oases and Reserves

Golden eagles, woodcock and rock thrushes fly between the steep rock faces, hide amongst the dense beech woods, sing in full view from the high meadows. And there is also a large number of animal and vegetable species typical of the Apuan Alps. This "niche" is called the Monte Roccandagia Nature Reserve, a small example of our unique and special Apennine mountains. It is called the Apuan Alps Park, but it belongs to the Apennines, its fascinating geology ensuring great biodiversity, thanks also to its closeness to the sea. So much natural richness is protected by the actions of the Apuan Alps Regional Park, the organisation with which LIPU has collaborated closely for more than 15 years. The Campocatino oasis was managed from the start, the major part of the town of Vagli being inside the Park, and last month the Reserve was doubled in size. Collaboration with the Park improved and the Monte Roccandagia Nature Reserve was added. This is an area of considerable naturalistic interest, added to Nature Network 2000, part of a special protection zone and a site of scientific interest. As well as birds, there are fauna and flora with many important rare, localized species which are included in Community Directives and Red Lists. These include elusive, mysterious amphibians such as European Newts and the Spectacled Salamander; fascinating brightly-coloured butterflies such as Euplagia tiger moth and the genus Erebia; Pipistrelles, the Greater Horseshoe Bat; peat bog vegetation characterised by some important species of Narcissi; on the banks a very beautiful orchid, the Marsh Hellebore.

A walk along the nature path which goes from the new Visitor Centre to Campocatino allows me, with the help of Manager Alessandra Fiori, to encounter all this nature. Management activity organisation is similar to that of other LIPU Oases and Reserves: nature conservation, species monitoring, oversight of the Park personnel, plus education and raising awareness of environmental issues. From the Visitor Centre provided for the Park and situated in a small restored stone hut (it used to be a summer refuge for the transhumance shepherds), a path leaves, crossing the protected area and finally arriving at the San Viviano hermitage. In spring the songs of the Woodlarks, in summer the flowery meadows, in autumn the incredible colours of the woods accompany the visitors who go a further thousand metres in the natural Reserve. In winter too, after snowfalls, the face of Monte Roccandagia is coloured like a wandering butterfly with dark crimson upperside and wings which are the colours of the Wallcreeper, the symbol of LIPU Oases and of this mountain, which is there to be discovered, experienced and appreciated, especially during one of the many LIPU Nature Events.

For information: tel. 0583-644242, oasi.campocatino@ lipu.it

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MONTEPULCIANO, SYMBOL OF GUARDIANSHIP, HOSTS US

Once again the National Assembly of LIPU returns to Montepulciano, emphasising the importance of protected environments and the large amount of conservation work undertaken by the association in guarding our natural heritage.

The National Assembly of LIPU returns to Montepulciano where it first met in 1995 to celebrate two significant moments in the association's history: the organisation of the first Conference for the Protection of Birdlife in Italy and the inauguration of the Lake Montepulciano Nature Reserve, the former giving rise to a book evaluating the status of bird conservation in Italy. That moment led to a series of important initiatives and projects relating to the protection of specific species that drew on methods and resources at a European level and activity of a more national nature, launching collaborative ventures with provincial and regional entities as well as with the national parks. The inauguration of the Nature Reserve at Montepulciano was equally important, as it was a defining moment in realising the dreams and energies of the association which dated back to the mid 1980s: from the initial establishment of a protection zone in collaboration with the local council in Montepulciano, with a ban on hunting and the construction of facilities for visiting birdwatchers, to the formal recognition of the protected area through the awarding of the status of Nature Reserve on the part of the Tuscan Regional Council and the Provincial Council of Siena. Today the Lake Montepulciano Reserve stands at the heart of the Provincial Council's network of protected areas and at the heart of LIPU's involvement with such schemes.

The decision to organise the LIPU National Assembly in conjunction with the local and regional councils was taken with the intention of further realising the potential such protected areas can have on the area. With another national Conference set for this year we will be able to evaluate how the Nature Network 2000 initiative is contributing to reaching the targets set as part of Countdown 2010, the project to halt the decline of biodiversity in Italy. We will consider what progress has been made to date and what challenges still face us together with the plans we have for the future. Our perspective in confronting these questions must be both national and local, citing the work done, and the results achieved, in Montepulciano and the wider areas of Tuscany and Siena.

On the second day of the Conference there will be two sessions: the morning session will be given over to the meeting of the delegates and volunteers of LIPU, an important moment after the intense work of last year when we can consider the issues currently inspiring the work being undertaken within the voluntary sector. The second, afternoon, session will involve the full meeting of the association's membership with the presentation of last year's accounts and a report from the Council and the Directorate of LIPU. Sunday will be given over to a field trip for those who wish to make something of a holiday of the visit, during which members and friends of LIPU will be able to visit the Lake Montepulciano Reserve. In fact all three days of the National Assembly will be held in the midst of the Nature Reserve in the Oasis Visitor€s' Centre. Simply by opening a door participants will be able to breathe in the fresh air and hear a multitude of birdcalls.

As a regal and beautiful city, Montepulciano's history dates back to the Etruscan period and the city was recorded as Mons Politianus by 715 AD. In the early thirteenth century it was subject to the rival claims of the Sienese and the Florentines who sought control of the Valdichiana region, and in 1232 the Sienese finally seized control of the city by destroying its encircling walls. For the following 300 years the city remained within the purview of the two rival powers, both of whom made significant changes to the city's spaces and contributed to its artistic heritage. The Piazza Grande was refashioned by the Florentine architect Michelozzo Michelozzi in the fifteenth century who also oversaw the upgrading of the Palazzo Comunale. During the following centuries many impressive buildings were completed from the Cathedral to the Churches of the Gesa, Santa Lucia and San Bernardo and the construction of the Theatre Poliziano in 1700. Gradually the construction of both road and rail links brought the city closer into contact with the neighbouring cities of Arezzo, Foiano, Bettole and Chiusi with the attendant increase in both population and range of commercial activities. And here we are today with Montepulciano's important role as a centre for tourism and the arts: the Theatre Poliziano, the internationally famous workshops, the classic Vino Nobile and the region's outstanding olive oil. The scenery and natural environment draw thousands upon thousands of visitors and admirers from both Italy and abroad year after year.

The LIPU National Assembly, Montepulciano (Siena); 30 May - 1 June 2008.

The Visitors' Centre, Lake Montepulciano Nature Reserve, Via del Lago 10, Acquaviva di Montepulciano (SI).

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FROM THE WORLD OF LIPU

Traps in the Brescia Region

More than 2,000 traps removed, 33 poachers reported, 53 confiscations confirmed by the authorities. Once again, in 2007, under the direction of Inspector Piergiorgio Candela, the anti-poaching team of LIPU has been active in the Bresciano region to prevent the poaching of robins and other small birds. Traps and nets have also been found on private property, in gardens and in farmyard vegetable patches that have been secretly turned into netting zones.

Marching to save the Massiccio del Grappa

A march was organised to save the Massiccio del Grappa from the threat of two mine workings in the Valle di Schievenin and the Col Del Roro: to save it, that is, from 35 years of extraction, new roads and heavy traffic. Two hundred people left Fener (BL) by foot, crossing the province of Treviso to Venice, an 80km march that was dubbed "€œThe 100,000 footsteps". A group from the Lipu branch of Pedemontana Trevigiana led by Giancarlo Silveri, along with another association - the AriaNova Pederobba - were supported by numerous local administrations from the communes within the Trevigiano - Belluna region, with the mayor of Montebelluna, Laura Puppato (a member of LIPU) at their head. The march was undertaken in an effort to save the splendid mountain valley with its springs of pure water and its birds: Long-eared Owl, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk, Rock Partridge, and many other important species that nest locally.

At Treviso, the marchers, already numbering three hundred (among whom were representatives from various associations), were greeted by representatives from the local provinces. The progress of the march was further enriched by still more people, lots of colour and plenty of children - on the Ponte della Liberta (Bridge of Liberty) that joins Mestre and Venice - its numbers had swollen to 500. The march, which was a peaceful and happy one, continued as far as Palazzo Ferro Fini, where it yet again stood witness to the urgent need to protect nature. A special thanks must go to all the LIPU volunteers who came forward to organise this important event.

"Monument" trees in Campania.

The tallest and oldest trees, witnesses to so much history, and bound to the lives of important men and saints, have been declared ‘monuments’. In 1982, the State Forest Rangers carried out its first national census of trees that have been thus designated, and in Campania identified 41 examples belonging to various species.

These natural monuments are not only of great ecological and natural importance, but are equally so in cultural terms, representing as they do a heritage of inestimable significance that we must all seek to preserve. It is for this reason that LIPU, in collaboration with the government offices of the Campania region and the Regional Command of the State Forest Rangers, has undertaken a new census and further research into these Campanian "€˜monuments"€™. It has several objectives: above all, there is that of establishing how many trees of the 1982 Forest Rangers census are still standing, and then that of expanding this research and creating a data base that will not only provide an inventory of the trees, but which will also facilitate both their monitoring and their management to the point that the public will take an active interest.

Calabria, the white stork finds a nest.

A new nesting pair and the installation of eighteen platforms has closed the 2007 account of the "€œWhite Stork" project which, in collaboration with ENEL (the National Electricity Board), had been developed by the Rende (CS) branch of LIPU with the aim of encouraging White Storks to nest in Calabria. The platforms, which have been erected on 11 expressly chosen pylons in the provinces of Cosenza and Crotone, perform an important function in providing a reference point for migrating birds, enticing them to nest. In fact, although there are areas that would provide an ideal habitat for the species, they are often not utilised because of the absence of suitable structures for nesting. It was for this reason that in 2003, thanks to the collaboration of ENEL, LIPU was able to install the platforms and insulate the electric cables to prevent electrocution, which is always a risk to large birds such as the stork.

Appointment with swallows

As in every other Spring, a new appointment is made between the Minotti family and the swallows that are arriving to enliven the cattle- sheds of Medesano (PR) where the cattle that produce the milk for Parmesan cheese are housed. The Minotti family are once again preparing to receive these messengers of Spring, opening the shed doors and, above all, running the farm in an ecologically appropriate way; preserving fields and hedges, limiting as much as possible the use of pesticides, and respecting the nests. And now that winter has finally come to an end, so also has the waiting for the anticipated arrival of the swallows from Africa.

Anti-Poaching in Cagliari

See the pictures inside the back cover.

The anti-poaching camp organised by LIPU in the Basso Sulcis in the province of Cagliari has finished its work, the efforts of its 23 volunteers having resulted in the arrest and the charging of four poachers. In the bags of those arrested were found song-thrushes, blackbirds and robins that had been illegally captured and then killed. The four poachers went to join a fifth one who had already been apprehended in December by LIPU working in conjunction with the Carabinieri headquarters in Sinnai.

In addition to this, the volunteers also destroyed 12,000 snares and 185 nets. The bird poachers “were all apprehended with extreme ease” - comments Giovanni Malara, LIPU coordinator of the Basso Sulcis project - “which highlights the fact that previously they had never been subject to any controls during the ten years that they have been engaged in their illegal activities”. LIPU will be informing the Public Prosecutors Office in Cagliari of these activities. Detailed statements have already been sent to the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, and to the Minister for the Interior, as well as to members of the Italian and European Parliaments. LIPU has also requested the Minister for the Environment to send the Operational Unit of the State Forest Rangers to the province of Cagliari to deal with the poaching emergency.

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MARCO DINETTI IS THE NEW ITALIAN REPRESENTATIVE OF IENE

Marco Dinetti, head of LIPU’s Urban Ecology section, is the new Italian representative for IENE - the Infra-Eco-Network-Europe. The organisation, founded in 1996 to tackle the problem of the fragmentation of ecosystems that is being caused by transport infrastructures, is bringing together institutes, authorities, and experts from 20 European countries. And it is precisely the experiences of these countries that the Italian delegate must engage with in order to initiate useful exchanges. "Italy" - Mr. Dinetti declared - "œmust adjust itself to European standards, because roads are responsible for a significant number of deaths among many species (including rare ones), of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, deaths that are also a hazard for drivers. It is calculated that hundreds of millions of wild animals die every year on the roads as a result of impacts with vehicles, while in Italy it is estimated that annually 15,000 animals are killed in each province".

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PETITION AGAINST HUNTING

We have now reached 70,000 signatures! The campaign against the hunting of small protected birds continues. At the beginning of February the number of signatures reached 70,000! Our objective of obtaining 100,000 is now even closer, but we must make an even greater effort if we are to reach it, and if we are to stop the slaughter of small birds such as Chaffinch and Bramblings simply for pleasure. You can request the petition form from our central office (0521/273043) or else by e-mail at info@lipu.it. Please ask friends, relatives, and colleagues to sign it as well which they can do on-line at www.lipu.it

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NEWS FROM LIPU-UK

ANNUAL APPEAL 2007

Friends and members of LIPU-UK supported the 2007 Appeal with their customary generosity and as a result the magnificent sum of over £25,200 was raised to support conservation work in Italy in the projects we undertook to support.

As well as donations from members and friends, we are grateful for the valuable support we receive from trusts and grant-making bodies; I am pleased to be able to thank the following for their generosity.

The Aberdeen Italian Circle donated £175; the A S Butler Charitable Trust gave £100; the Clare-Lees Trust gave us £400; the G W Trust donated £200; the Shirley Pugh Foundation for the Welfare of Animals gave £120; the Peter Smith Charitable Trust for Nature gave £500; the Udimore Trust gave £50 and the Valerie White Memorial Trust made a donation of £500.

Bird clubs and groups were represented by the Dursley Birdwatching and Preservation Society who gave us £150; Gwent Ornithological Society donated £50; RSPB Galloway Group gave us £150 and the South Lakeland Group £100 and the Worcestershire Conservation Volunteers made a donation of £100 - sincere thanks to them all.

Finally, I am grateful that, for another year, AISPA, the Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals, continued its valuable support by adopting in its entirety one of the two major projects. AISPA has played such an important part in the founding of LIPU and in support through LIPU-UK over the years that a special bond exists between our organisations - long may that continue.

APPEAL IN SUPPORT OF LIPU PROJECTS 2008

LIPU-UK is on a sound financial footing and in the light of this and the need for funding for a wide range of projects, it has been decided to take on another Major Project this year over and above our usual commitment.

We are therefore appealing for funds to cover the costs of:

1. Another year of surveying the migrating raptors as they move through Sicily in the Spring. As in the past this will dovetail very well with our second project:

2. Anti poaching. The camp on the Straits of Messina will be supported again although for fewer days than in the past. In addition the efforts to stamp out the trapping in the north will be supplemented by a team of volunteers who will be working in Sardinia to stop the netting and trapping of thrushes. See items and pictures in this issue.

3. The monitoring of species which are endangered in Italy has been going on for some time, we will support this important work in the year ahead for birds such as the Little Bustard.

These projects are classified as Major and we will give €13,000 to each, the last two projects are Minor and will be funded for half of that amount:

4. The work for the conservation of Shearwaters on the island of Linosa has been successful so far and we will contribute funds for it to continue. The local authority is starting a rat eradication programme and this along with the co-operation of the local population is expected to improve the breeding success of these birds.

5. The provision of medical supplies for the LIPU Recovery Centres is a vital and never ending necessity, we are happy to contribute to this need for another year.

I am sure that you will agree on the importance of these projects and it is a fact that much of this will remain undone without your help, so please support this appeal with the generosity of previous years. As in the past, any surplus will be added to the Oasi Fund, our hope for the future is to be able to buy a nature reserve in Italy for LIPU and the search is now on for suitable candidates. Thank you all.

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In this issue we have to say a sincere "Thank you"€ to Brian Horkley of Cambridge who is handing over his duties as translation co-ordinator to Carol Debney after this issue. Brian has translated our newsletters and Frammenti e-mail bulletins for over 15 years and for the first 10 or so he did it all entirely unaided. Brian will remain a LIPU member and I am sure you will all join me in wishing him and Joyce the best for the future. This edition was translated by Brian with the help of: Barbara Avery, Joanna Bazen, Daria Dadam, Barry Jones, Stephen Milner, Caterina Paone, Peter Rafferty and John Walder, thank you all.

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HOW TO MAXIMISE THE VALUE OF FUND RAISING

"Dear Prime Minister, I should like to apply for the position of “Consumer” - you know, the person who has the Price Index named after him and whose cost of living rose by only 2.2% last year. Clearly he doesn't have to deal with Council Tax rising by 11%, petrol by 20% and energy by over 20% in the last year... "

Similarly he is not facing a rise in the cost of a second class stamp of 12.5% and it is this price rise that prompts me to write of how we can maximise the efficiency of what we do. You will know from the annual accounts that we have three priorities:

a) To maximise the funds we raise to help our friends in Italy.

b) To control our costs with vigour and

c) To give good value to our members so they will wish to continue their support.

It is the second of those I'd like to discuss because we don't want to do what everybody else does by raising subscription levels. I strive to keep costs to a minimum and have just bought sufficient stamps to last about 2 years and this has saved us £300 but there are more savings to be made and you might be able to help in one or more of the following.

I realise that many members do not have a computer but growing numbers do and this can be a real money saver if you would accept newsletters on-line this saves printing costs and postage and, if you are happy to read them on screen it saves trees as well.

Another way of saving postage is to consider renewing your subscription by Bankers' Order. This really does save time and trouble for everyone as well as significant amounts of postage, Many will prefer the personal touch of a renewal reminder but if this isn't important to you please consider this method of renewal.

The necessary form can be obtained from me, or from our web site:: www.lipu-uk.org/SOform.pdf and don't forget the promotion we are offering of a copy of "A Birdwathers Guide to Italy".

A final plea to those who do receive their publications on-line - please tell me when you change your e-mail address otherwise you'll be receiving the Ali on paper again!

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ANNUAL DRAW WINNERS 2007

My thanks to all who took part, the winners were:

Mrs D Morgan Norfolk £500
Mr K Dancey Oxford Zeiss binoculars
Mrs J Reed
London
DVD set
Mr J Watts Northamptonshire Birdvoice
Mrs A Naylor Herts Birdwatching Subscription
Ms J Knight Beds LIPU Gilet

Line drawings used by permission of the RSPB

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