What is it?
Already in 2010 the Sila National Park started the complex process for the application of the MaB Reserve (Man and the Biosphere), an objective that was then achieved in 2014, when Sila became the 10th Italian Biosphere Reserve in the World Network of Excellence Sites UNESCO. To achieve this goal, local communities were involved in a very large area, corresponding to about a third of the Calabria Region, almost 5 times the current area of the Sila National Park.
The MaB "Sila" Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 355 thousand hectares and includes 66 municipalities, including the 18 ones whose territory falls within the Sila National Park. This is an area with elements of homogeneity regarding economic and socio-demographic characteristics.
This homogeneity made possible an integrated approach to the territory problems. For this reason, the Fondazione Riserva Area MaB "Sila", operating on three-year plans, provided for the establishment of a series of Technical Tables in collaboration with Italian universities, research bodies, professional associations, experts from the Calabria Region, as well as members of the civil society. This wide involvement of local actors turns out to be a success factor of the management model, because it guarantees the composite participation and the systemic representation of widespread needs.
From Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, through Forestry, Forestry Planning and Forest Management, or Biodiversity Planning, Tourism, Training, the above mentioned Tables are a think tank dedicated to the identification of innovative models of eco-sustainable development and project proposals to be submitted later to the Foundation's Board of Directors.
The function of the Tables goes from the study and transfer of scientific knowledge for the environment protection, through an action of preventing pathogenic phenomena, to the transfer of knowledge and operational models for the enhancement and development of cultures and knowledge in economic logic. They also provide support in the definition of territorial development policies and for the presentation of development projects through tools made available by the ROP or by the EU, as well as for the dissemination of corporate culture in the territory of MaB Reserve "Sila".
This model allows all civil society to participate in their areas development, bringing together the best minds and the most experienced figures of the territories themselves. One of the first projects arising from this thought was the redevelopment of part of the "Fossiata" state forest, in particular the area of the former "Vivaio Sbanditi", with the creation of an "Arboretum of the Park", imagined as a real own Center of Experiences on Biodiversity in contact with nature.
Among the areas of intervention and the actions envisaged for the MaB Reserve "Sila" we can remember: the monitoring of vegetation and habitats Natura 2000; that of floristic species and of alien species; the monitoring of wildlife species of conservation interest (included in the annexes of the Habitats and Birds Directives, endemic, of biogeographic interest, etc.) and management (ungulates, otter, wolf); or even the recovery and restoration of peat bogs, the riverbanks, the high starting forestry interventions, the containment of invasive species of prairie environments, the improvement and / or restoration of habitats.
Naturally, these actions also include the grassland management plan; the encouragement of agro-forestry-pastoral activities and sustainable tourism; the creation of shop windows for the promotion of local resources, both in the Park Visitor Centers and in the main Calabrian tourist resorts; support for research and development activities for the enhancement of primary activities and agri-food processing; support for collective, protection or area brands policies; finally, support for policies aiming to concentrate supply through the creation of business networks.
It is precisely in this context that the measures taken within the rural development program of the Calabria Region are included, among which we can certainly remember the project "Vegetal Biodiversity of the Silane Pastures: protection of the genetic heritage of species of conservation interest with agricultural potential (BPS) ".
The BPS focused its attention on the enhancement of biodiversity at different levels (genetic, specific and ecosystem), as one of the main resources on which to set up innovative models of local development, in particular in rural areas. This is possible in the long term only through the involvement of farmers and local private and public territorial entities. The general objective is the ‘in situ’ conservation ("on farm") and ‘ex situ’ of the genetic patrimony of plant species of high popular value, i.e. responsible for the organoleptic properties of meat, milk and Silane dairy products, rare and / or threatened as often exposed to phenomena of genetic erosion.
The Sila National Park Authority, through specific and targeted interventions, was specifically involved in operational conservation actions ‘in situ’. From the exclusion of grazing in mesophilous and hygrophilous environments in order to create areas of germoplasma sampling (selected species) under controlled conditions; to the realization in the Arboretum of the Park of ‘in vivo’ collections of the selected species, both through seed propagation and through clod root transplantation; the regulation of grazing in pilot areas, both public and private; to finish with the promotion of typical products and eco-labelling aimed to encourage local supply chains.