Building a Safe Space for the Italian Spadefoot in the Ticino River Landscape
The Ticino River Landscape is an important ecological corridor extending from the Alps, in Switzerland, to the Apennines, in Italy, including many important habitats such as alpine valleys, floodplains, water bodies, heathlands, wetlands, residual mixed deciduous forests of the Po Plain and agricultural areas.
These ecosystems sustain a significant biodiversity, with rare and endemic species that are globally threatened. One of these species is the Italian Spadefoot, a little endangered toad endemic of the Po Plain. The main threat for this toad is the fragmentation of its populations: only few are known, some of which with only few individuals, and the connectivity between them is lost.
The most important site in Italy for the species is located in the Ticino Valley Park of Lombardy, both within and in the surroundings of the Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation (SAC) “Paludi di Arsago”. More than half of the Italian spadefoot breeding sites in this area is located outside the SAC, without any legal protection.
Restoring suitable breeding habitats for the Italian Spadefoot and reinforce its populations is the only way to guarantee a future to this species: the project will focus on these activities in two areas close to the Paludi di Arsago SAC, ensuring the presence of two important breeding sites and increasing the number of individuals of this population.
The conservation of wetlands is a critical issue in the densely populated Ticino River Landscape: this area relies considerably on the water resources of the Ticino surface and underground watershed for domestic and agricultural use. Public understanding of the importance of wetland conservation and its biodiversity as a tool to secure ecosystem services provided by wetlands is pivotal. Thus, the project will realise a raising awareness campaign on the critical role played by freshwater habitats and endangered species, to boost the recognition of wetlands’ benefits (economic, social, cultural and environmental), and of the threats affecting them; and to influence key stakeholders in favor of their effective sustainable use, integrated management and conservation.
The project is financed by the Fondation Audemars-Watkins and realised together with the Ticino Valley Park, with the support of ELEADE Soc. Coop. and Idrogea Servizi srl.
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