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Nature protection and biodiversity

Italy is part to  numerous multilateral environmental agreements designed to safeguard biodiversity, first of all the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Bird Directive was transposed into national legislation with Law 157/1992, while the Habitat Directive was fully transposed into Italian law under Presidential Decree 120/2003. At present, Italy’s Network Nature 2000 consists of 597 SPAs, with a surface area of 4 377 721 hectares, equal to 14.5 % of the national territory, and of 2 288 SCIs, with a surface area of 4 530 866 hectares, equal to 15 % of the national territory[1].

Another fundamental reference for the conservation of biodiversity in Italy is the Framework Law on Protected Areas 394/1991. There are 772 protected areas covering almost 3 million hectares of terrestrial surface (9.7 % of the national territory)[2].

There are also 25 Marine Protected Areas and other protected areas of sea, including the wide International Marine Mammals Sanctuary.

51 sites of major ecological importance, covering a total surface area of approximately 58 800 hectares, are protected under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands of international importance.

Furthermore 12 ‘Action Plans’ have been implemented for threatened species of fauna, while 3 ‘Guidelines’ have been drawn up to limit species that damage native fauna and natural habitats.

Many other initiatives, including some undertaken at regional and local levels, are focused on the sustainable use of resources (e.g. fishing), on the monitoring of species and habitats, on environmental reclamation and restocking, on the creation of ecological networks, on the implementation of criteria of sustainability in production sectors, and on environmental education and certification. For instance, 748 065 hectares of forests are currently certified, more than 8 % of the total forest area.

The various actions listed up to this point to safeguard nature and biodiversity can be effectively applied only if they are supported with adequate funding. The available data[3] show that spending by different government bodies (grouped by COFOG)[4] on the defence of biodiversity and the countryside totalled EUR 4 357 million in 2007, with an increase of approximately 52 % from 2000, confirming the attention placed in the sector under public policies.

As for relations between agriculture and the environment, particular attention is focused on biological agriculture. In Italy, the surface areas involved in or being converted to biological agriculture in 2008 were equal to 1 002 414 hectares, representing 8 % of the national UAA[5].




Claudio Piccini, Giovanni Finocchiaro(ISPRA)



Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD

ISPRA, Key Topics –Italian Environmental Data Yearbook 2008. Roma, 2009.

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - UNCED



[1] MATTM, 2009

[2] Official List of Protected Areas, MATT, 2003

[3] Spending of level-II government bodies in the years 2000-2007, ISTAT

[4] COFOG - Classification Of Function Of Government: a classification determined internationally by the main national accounting institutes.




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[Commonality topics] biodiversity

[COMMONALITY] What are the policy responses?

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