SIC - Prau Grande - Liguria - Site of Community Importance

in defense of the naturalistic heritage of Liguria

Pompeiana, seen from the SIC

Liguria, squeezed between the Mediterranean sea, the Alps and the Apennines along a thin strip of territory of more than 300 km, represents a particularly fortunate case of coexistence within a short distance of a great variety of those types of natural environments, of which the Italy can boast.

From the sea, known as the "cetacean sanctuary", to the stretches of coast that miraculously have still been preserved from speculation, as in the case of the 5 Terre National Park, to the mountain environment (see for example the park of the Ligurian Alps) , there are numerous areas of relief from a naturalistic point of view.

This environmental richness is evident for example by examining the list of Sites of Community Importance (SIC) proposed by Italy on the basis of the European Directive 92/43 called the “Habitat Directive”, an instrument designed to combat the loss of biodiversity in the Old Continent.

Coronella girondica

On the basis of this directive, the member states of the European Union have drawn up a list of areas of particular naturalistic value, in order to propose them as SIC and have also implemented the spirit of the directive by approving national laws suitable for the purpose, Italy with Presidential Decree n. 357 of 1997, subsequently modified by the D.P.R. 120 of 2003.

On the basis of this directive and the approved national laws, in order to intervene with works whose effects may have repercussions within the SIC, it is mandatory to prepare an "Impact Assessment": a study according to well-defined guidelines by European standards to demonstrate that the value naturalistic of the area is not diminished by the intervention to be carried out.

At this time, numerous SCIs proposed have been "approved", including all those classified as characteristic of the Mediterranean environment, the definitive list of which is found in the D.L. of 3 July 2008, published in the Official Gazette no. 184 dated 7-8-2008.

With its 125 SCIs, Liguria contributes considerably to this list of areas that Italy can rightly boast of.

One of these Sites of Community Interest is located on a hill on the Riviera di Ponente, in the thin intermediate area between the sea and the Maritime Alps, within the territory of the municipality of Pompeiana (province of Imperia).

Ophrys fusca

This SIC is characterized from a series of arid meadows on calcareous-clayey-arenaceous flysch and discrete woodlands dominated by downy oak or Aleppo pine and scrub with broom and mastic. There are habitats that the Habitats Directive has established as of priority interest. The abundant flowering of Mediterranean orchids is significant and there are numerous species protected by international directives / conventions.

The SCI is of considerable importance for the conservation of the ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus) and the dotted pelodite (Pelodytes punctatus), very rare species in Italy having their eastern distribution limits in Liguria.

The dotted pelodite is a small anurian amphibian, at most it can reach 5 cm in length, which has an Iberian-French distribution range. In Italy it has been observed only in southern Piedmont and in western and central Liguria. Throughout Italy very few sites are known where it still manages to survive and reproduce and for these reasons the Italian populations have been proposed for inclusion in Annex II of the Habitat Directive, while currently both the pelodite and the ocellated lizard are protected at regional as a particularly protected species under the regional law on the "Protection of minor fauna" (LR 4/92).

Pelotide from Pompeii

Dotted pelotid

Unfortunately, local administrations have sometimes given signs that they do not seem to take the naturalistic value of the area into great consideration: an area adjacent to the SIC named Prau Grande ended up on a list of possible landfill areas listed in the Provincial Waste Management Plan of the Province of Imperia (and for this reason in 2003 the "black flag" of the Caravan of the Alps was awarded). Furthermore, according to the projects of the current Provincial Administration, the SIC itself it should be crossed for more than 2 km by a road parallel and alternative to the Via Aurelia. Furthermore, the municipal administration has considerably changed the balance of the area with the construction of a small artificial reservoir, unsuitable for dotted pelodite and attractor of competing species.

Cleaning the SIC

Stimulated by these episodes which are not very reassuring for the future of the area, some inhabitants of Pompeiana have founded an association which aims to protect the natural, landscape, historical, social and cultural heritage of the town of Pompeiana in particular and of the Ligurian territory in general, to promote awareness-raising initiatives for citizens and institutions and to act concretely for a correct management and enhancement of the Site of Community Interest behind the town.

Thanks to the help of WWF Liguria, the Circolo della Valle Argentina of Legambiente, the Ligurian section of the Italian Botanical Society, the Tutori Ponds and Wet Zones group of Liguria, various professors from the Universities of Genoa, Turin, Rome 3 and other authoritative supports, the Association is trying to enhance and defend the area from a management that is not very respectful of its real naturalistic value and of the laws.

For more information we refer to the website

Video: Liguria, Regional Natural Park of the Ligurian Alps

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