The project applies an active approach to restore priority species of the Habitat 1170 in Natura2000site/Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance by:
1) collection of Cystoseira fertile parts in healthy populations: C. amentacea var. stricta, from PortofinoMPA (Ligurian Sea), C. barbata and C. crinita from StrunjanMPA (North Adriatic)
2) setup of mesocosms for controlled reproduction and generation of juveniles to implant in the Natura2000 sites
3) forestation phase at Cinque Terre/Miramare MPAs where historical presence is recorded and measures to mitigate/contrast impacts that led to its loss are in place;
4) maintenance of the implanted populations and regular monitoring to assess forestation success.
The combination of the actions will increase recruitment potential and ensure the restocking and growth of the populations and the possibility to extend the action to other areas.
Cystoseira will be reintroduced in the target MPAs. The recovery of C. amantacea v. stricta, C. crinita, C. barbata will be done by production of juveniles. We estimate to produce for each species and cultivation event (repeated twice a year, for 3 years) ca. 2millions of zygotes, starting from 200 receptacles collected from 100 adults. We estimate the survival of 2000 juveniles to transplant (survival 1/1000). After 30 days in the receiving sites we expect the survival of 1000 plants (survival 50%) and after 1 year of 400 adult thalli (survival 40%). At the end of the cultivation events we foresee the survival of 2400 adult plants of each species.
In the MPAs the number of thalli will continue to increase after the end of the project thanks to the critical density created and the natural reproduction of the transplanted population. A natural recolonisation of coastal nearby areas is also predictable.
In the mid-long term, the newly established Cystoseira forests will form an ecological network with a cascade of positive effects on the MPAs, by restoration of Cystoseira habitat functions (refuge/nursery for fauna, food provisioning, water oxygenation and biogeochemical cycles). Thus, the improvement of the Habitat1170 will be ensured, due to the re-colonization of species of high ecological value.
A study on intrinsic value (in monetary terms) of Cystoseira has been carried out. The results obtained based on the trophic network showed values from 10€/m-2 to 30€/m-2 per unit area, supporting the functional importance of Cystoseira habitat on the biodiversity and ecosystem services maintenance.
The process activated with the restoration of Cystoseira, indicator of good ecological quality, will trigger the recovery of the ecological status of the target MPAs. In the context of the Water Framework Directive the indices proposed to assess the macrophytes quality elements (i.e. CARLIT and EEI) are based on the Cystoseira Habitat assessment.
Intensification of territorial promotion/touristic visibility. Environmental tourism, which already characterizes the MPAs (Miramare, Portofino and Cinque Terre are Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance) will further increase. An increase of ca.3% compared to the last 3 years is foreseen. Dissemination action is expected to provide information to over 750.000 individuals considering all communication tools developed and the large visibility of MPAs visitor centers.