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Gran Paradiso National Park
Parco Nazionale Del Gran Paradiso

italy

First Listed

2014

Area
710.44km2

Why is it Green Listed?

Gran Paradiso National Park was added to the Green List during the Pilot Phase in 2014. Gran Paradiso National Park was the first national park to be established in Italy in 1922. It includes a large territory of high mountains, from the 800 meters of the valley bottoms to the 4.061 meters of Gran Paradiso peak. Larch and fir woodlands, wide alpine grasslands, rocks, and glaciers make up an ideal setting for the life of a rich and various wildlife and for a visit leading to the discovery of the wonderful world of the high mountains.

The Green List validation process implies a verification of all management aspects of the protected area. Therefore, it is a process that helps organize work better. In my opinion, the most useful and interesting contribution, however, was that of having pushed a more accurate definition of targets and procedures to achieve them.

Being part from the beginning of a global elite of protected areas is in itself a great advantage both in terms of communication of their work and as an incentive to keep up the commitment and the results for the park. Thanks to Green List, it has been possible to measure ourselves with the best world’s excellence on the management of protected areas.

Antonio Mingozzi Director of “Ente Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso” (Gran Paradiso National Park)

Key Achievements

Conservation

  • Currently, both the species and the habitats hosted in the Park are not particularly endangered (only 2.5% of the plant species are currently included in the IUCN Red List). However, especially in the alpine region, climate change represents a major threat to the long-term conservation of the biodiversity. Here, in fact, the foreseen increase in the temperature (2.0-3.5°C) is expected to be accompanied by a change in the water regime, a drying of the soils and the almost complete retreat of the glaciers. From a conservation perspective, the Alpine grassland is one of the most interesting habitat to be studied in the Park. The Alpine grassland represents in fact the main habitat of many local herbivorous species included the ibex, symbol species of the Park that is undergoing a drastic population decrease in the PA. The availability of complete and detailed historical series of spatial and temporal data is indispensable for predicting the effects of climate changes on the ecosystems. To this aim, the Park uses the data collected through remote sensing analysis (providing updated sets of data spatially complete and homogenous) for monitoring the changes in the extension and composition of the different habitat of the PA. 1. return of the Bearded Vulture which was extinct 2. achievement of equilibrium of the ibex, marmot and chamois populations 3. monitoring of alpine meadows for climate change 

Good governance

  • The current zonation of the PA was discussed and agreed with the members of the Park Community (composed of the representatives of the local communities). Depending on its features and conservation objectives, each zone is managed in a specific way. The different zones thus build up a heterogeneous mosaic organically managed in order to guarantee the long-term conservation of the nominated values of the PA. 1. Limitation in urban transformations 2. Increase in quality tourism 3. International projection 

Community benefits

  • The Mission of the PA states that with the purpose of ensuring a socio-economic development of the populations living within the boundaries of the PA, the Ente Parco (Park Authority) encourages the implementation of territory management strategies that promote a sustainable integration between Man and Nature while ensuring the conservation of the natural heritage for the next generations. To this aim, the park promote new sustainable productive activities while preserving and incentivizing the local traditional cultural values through the promotion of local traditional agro-sylvo-pastoral activities, architecture and handicraft. The PA is working to rebalance the presence of the tourism in the territory. The aim is that of reduce the concentration (due to seasonal tourism) of the anthropic pressure on the environment and to promote a better income distribution among the local populations. 1. Growth of sustainable tourism 2. De-seasonalization of presences 3. Greater resilience of local businesses to economic crises 
The value of the Green List does not only lie in a gratification for the capabilities of a park, but has very important implications for the sustainability policies of the whole planet. Being able to demonstrate the efficacy and results of your actions for the territory and its inhabitants means asserting your role forcefully and also obtaining a larger audience and more resources from both the public and the private sector.
The aims of a park are at the service of the whole community both local and global. This task which in the past seemed relegated to a mere testimony of safeguarding endangered species and habitats, today has become an important part of a challenge that engages political and economic leaders from all over the world. Parks, especially those recognised as Green Lists, represent a fundamental technical and governance reference for the maintenance of fundamental natural resources for the health and economy of all citizens.
Giampiero Sammuri President of Federparchi Europarc-Italia

Site Attributes

WDPA ID
718

Size
710.44km2

Designation(s)
Site of Community Importance (Habitats Directive); Special Protection Area (Birds Directive)

IUCN Category
II

Year Established
1922

Marine Protected Area
No

Governance Type
Government-delegated management

Site Manager
Antonio Mingozzi

Application
2014 (pilot site)

EAGL Evaluation
-

GL Committee Submission
-

EAGL Chair
Fulvio Cerfolli

ASI Reviewer
Liviu Amariei

Site Summary

Gran Paradiso National Park protects an area characterized mainly by an alpine environment. The mountains that make up the range, in the past have been cut and modelled by giant glaciers and by streams that created the valleys that we see today. In the forests of the valley floor the most common trees are larches, mixed with spruces, Swiss stone pines and more rarely silver firs. Higher up the slopes the trees gradually thin out and make way for vast alpine pastures, rich with flowers in late spring. Higher still, the landscape is characterized by rocks and glaciers, right up to the highest tips of the massif which reach a peak of 4000 metres with that of Gran Paradiso.

In addition to the protection and conservation of the territory, the park is also a scientific research body. Research is carried out on wildlife and vegetation within the Park. The monitoring of wildlife (also through the so-called census) and of biodiversity and other activities are carried out in detail throughout the territory in collaboration with several universities and research centres such as CNR.

Gran Paradiso National Park has had its own guard corps since 1947 that watches over and patrols the territory of the protected area. This is different from more recent national parks, in which the surveillance is entrusted to the State Forest Corps legal framework. Gran Paradiso, with Implementation Decree from the Ministry of the Environment, maintains its own historical guards corps, continuing a tradition and experience, proven by time. The role of park rangers is fundamental who, through their work, contribute to scientific research through sightings and animal control. The park’s surveillance service, keeping in line with tradition and without neglecting its strong points, is continually evolving, with constant updating which goes from legal standards to mountain rescue, from notions of self-help to study of the fauna. A service which today, along with the traditional surveillance activities, carries out other functions, such as regular police investigations, dealing directly with the public and participation in scientific research. So it’s the rangers themselves that collaborate with the Attorney’s Office and with the municipal-engineering service of the park authority, give advice to tourists going on excursions, go to schools to talk about the park and contribute to various types of research conducted both by the park’s scientific service and by universities.

The park has many activities on its territory, as well as nationally and internationally to raise awareness and promote the protected area of Gran Paradiso. Every season of every year the Park offers different scenery. Late spring and summer are the months for blooming and high altitude excursions. In autumn, the forests change colour, while the mating period starts for the alpine chamois. In winter, the snow-covered territory lends itself to walking with snowshoes, cross country skiing and mountaineering, with the possibility of spotting animals in their beautiful winter plumage.

Thanks to its old establishment, the Gran Paradiso National Park boasts extensive knowledge of its natural ecosystem of the territory’s history, representing an ideal outdoor educational workshop. The spectrum of proposals of environmental education ranges from more naturalistic themes to anthropological and historical ones, and they are all marked by stimulating the development of a critical sense in understanding the relationship with the environment and in awareness of responsible behaviour regarding precious environmental heritage. The activities are carried out by educators, park interpreters, nature guides, park rangers trained in environmental education, and experts working for several years in the area. They are structured with actions in the classroom (for schools), excursions in the territory and practical activities in the countryside and in the various park structures (Environmental Education Centres, Visitor centres, laboratories …).

The Ministers Committee of the Council of Europe officially assigned the European Diploma of Protected Areas to the Gran Paradiso National Park. Thanks to this document, the first Italian National Park is directly under the sponsorship of the Council of Europe for 5 years. The Diploma can be renewed or cancelled in the event that a general deterioration in the condition of the site is recognized. Gran Paradiso National Park’s European diploma of protected areas has already been renewed twice until March 18th 2021 (Resolution CM / resDip (2011) 3 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of 6th July 2011 during the 1118th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

Natural Values
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
The Gran Paradiso National Park is the Alpine area with the highest presence of fauna species. The Park is the only Alpine area where the ibex is still naturally present; it has therefore led all ibex reintroduction projects implemented in the Alpine area so far. Many other mammal species populate the PA. A part form the ibex, also chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), roe deers (Capreolus capreolus), marmots (Marmota marmota) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are very abundant in the area. Other mammal species populating the area and relevant from a conservation point of view are the blue hare (Lepus timidus), the ermine (Mustela ermine) and the European snow vole (Chionomys nivalis). Recently, also the wolf has repopulated the Park. The avifauna is also well represented in the PA and mainly composed by bird species typical of the alpine environment. Among the birds species with a permanent presence are: the lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), the golden eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos) and some alpine gallinaceous birds (Lagopus mutus, Lyrurus tetrix, and Alectoris graeca). 1. Habitat variations 2. Dynamics of animal populations 3. Evaluations on the mass of glacial bodies
1. Variation of habitats (Conservation status of habitats) The transformations of some habitats, especially the open prairie ones, primary and secondary, linked both to the rise in temperatures and the abandonment of pastoral activities, are periodically measured in comparison with the situation deducible through photo interpretation of historical images (aerial and, more recently, satellite) or on wetlands present in the PNGP. The success threshold is a variation of the monitored habitats in the range + - 1% every 3 years. 2. Variations in the number of species along an altitudinal gradient and as a function of the presence / absence of anthropogenic actions. The achievement of the conservation objectives of animal biodiversity is represented by the results of the measurements of the changes in the altitudinal distribution of the different species of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) and of the evaluation of the causes that determine these movements. The success threshold is a variation in the number of species + - 5% every 2 years 3. Evaluation of the results of the mass balance of some glacial bodies In this case, the results of periodic and multi-year monitoring give indications on the rapidity of climatic changes at high altitudes. The success threshold is a change in the mass of glaciers <1% each year. 4. Measurement of the amount of CO2 captured in the monitoring sites and correlation with the animal diversity in the same sites. The quantity of carbon captured in some intensive monitoring sites installed within the protected area. We intend to verify, through repeated measurements over time, whether the efficiency in carbon capture varies according to the state of integrity of some habitats (prairies and forests). The success threshold is an increase in CO2 captured + 4% every 2 years.
Habitats: variation in the number of habitats good conservation status 2015-2018 + 5% 9420 = Alpin forests of Larix decidua and/or Pinus cembra: good conservation status 6150 = Siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands: good conservation status 7110 = Active raised bogs: good conservation status Animal species: variation in the number of species good conservation status 2015-2017 + 8% Gypaetus barbatus: endangered Capra ibex: good conservation status Euphydryas aurinia: good conservation status Rupicapra rupicapra: good conservation status Glaucidium passerinum: good conservation status Aegolius funereus: good conservation status Marmota marmota: good conservation status Lyrurus tetrix: endangered Aquila chrysaetos: good conservation status Plant species: Trifolium saxatile All.: good conservation status Veronica allionii Vill.: good conservation status Astragalus alopecurus Pall.: good conservation status Variation in the mass of glaciers Grand Etrèt 2018-2019 -1% "Paesaggio glaciale di alta quota: creste e pinnacoli rocciosi, circhi, selle, soglie, conche, valli a “U”, valli sospese, rocce montonate, forme di accumulo glaciale, laghi di circo e laghi di soglia": good conservation status Geological values The Gran Paradiso PA is made up of rocks of different ages and origins. In particular, there is a group of stratified gneiss (metamorphic rocks derived by granites or by diorites) which are still preserved here and there. In some cases the gneiss have a thick covering of calcareous schists variously metamorphosed, derived from marine sediments of the Mesozoic era. It is possible to notice the presence of rich veins of iron minerals in the Val di Cogne, which have greatly influenced the life of the population of the valley.
The PA is the area with the higher biodiversity level in the whole Alpine Arc, as well as the area where local population incomes are the highest. There are 51 registered Mammalian species, including 15 Rodents, 6 Insectivores, 2 Lagomorphs, 8 Carnivores, 5 Ungulates and 15 Bats. The chamois population (Rupicapra rupicapra) amounts to 9,000 individuals, the Alpine Ibex population (Capra ibex) to 4,000. Some Lynx (Lynx lynx), locally extinct since the beginning of 1.900, have been observed in the last years. Recently the Wolf (Canis lupus) moved back to the Park. More than 101 birds species nest in the park: some species like Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Ptarmigan Lagopus mutus, Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca, Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum, Dipper Cinclus cinclus, Cough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, Siskin Carduelis spinus are indicated as vulnerable species. Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos density is high; other species of particular scientific interest are: Tengmalm's Owl Aegolius funereus, Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius and Bearded Vulture Gipaetus barbatus (critical) (3 nestings in the last two years).
Ecosystem values
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
The major Ecosystem Service values of the site: Water supply, Pollination, Carbon stock and sequestration, Gene pool protection, Nature-related Tourism & Ecotourism, Willingness to preserve plants, animals, ecosystems. 1. Importance of a given ES in relation to Park’s territorial, economic, and social specificities, excluding, for instance, ES deemed hardly relevant to our context; 2. Presence of a relation among possible Management Plan’s strategies/actions and the state of the ES, considering, in particular, those ES that are strictly connected to sectors involved in the Management Plan; 3. Presence of a relationship between ES and stakeholders involved in the participatory process.
1. Importance of a given ES in relation to the territorial, economic and social specificities of the Park, excluding, for example, ES considered of little relevance to our context. Success threshold: mapping of 70% of the park's ecosystem services in 3 years. 2. Presence of a relationship between the possible strategies / actions of the Management Plan and the status of the ES, considering, in particular, those that are strictly connected to the sectors involved in the Management Plan. Success threshold: analysis of supplier / user relationships for 50% of the ES mapped in 3 years. 3. Presence of a relationship between ES and stakeholders involved in the participatory process. Success threshold: involvement of 50% of stakeholders in participatory processes
Ecosystem services of forest and prairie Investigations have begun on the eco-systemic function of forests and grasslands, especially in terms of measuring their carbon capture efficiency as a function of their state of integrity. Alongside these actions, activities have been implemented to measure the interaction between soil complexity and biodiversity both with the use of environmental DNA and with direct comparison with the actions of monitoring animal biodiversity detected on the soil determined thanks to the aid of expert taxonomists of the different taxa. From the first surveys it seems possible to detect differences in the soils depending on the forest types that develop on them: indications of this type could direct some limited management choices. As for grasslands, their conservation status influences both the degree of carbon capture and biological diversity, especially animal diversity. In this last case, the findings on animal diversity indicate a synergy of effects between abandonment and rising temperatures. From the findings made in the last 10 years, therefore, it would seem that the management of these environments also for ecosystemic purposes would seem to favor diversity. Ecosystem services resulting from the use of surface water for energy production As regards the thresholds referred to eco-systemic services linked to the exploitation of surface waters, in particular in the intake works carried out before the establishment of the PA, the monitoring actions are linked to complex activities, carried out both with ordinary funds from the Entity both through the activation of European funding projects: - every 10 years, the PA activates monitoring and ecological characterization of its main watercourses with the measurement of physico-chemical parameters, diversity in diatoms and benthic macroinvertebrates. The next major season will be carried out in 2020, again by the University of Turin.
Trend of ecosystem services: GOOD
Cultural Values
The villages and the alpine summer grazing lands tell the long history of the shepherds. They have lived in a self-sufficient way in these mountains for centuries, frequently communicating with people living beyond the Alps rather than with the lowlanders. On the slope of the Piemonte region, the houses are built entirely in stone, while on the slope of the Valle d'Aosta region they are built in stone and wood. The most common model (with variations in the different valleys) is a wood and stone building with the stable situated on the ground floor, the home on the first floor, and the hay loft on the second floor, in order to keep the house as warm as possible. One of the aims of the Park is to highlight the importance of the cultural heritage of the mountain and to promote its sustainable economic development. 1. The typical alpine house reflects the needs of farming populations, whose main request is the functionality. 2. Rock art and painting, roads and bridges of Roman era, military buildings, medieval churches and castles, mountain pastures, paths and mule tracks, rubble walls erected to terrace the steep slopes, irrigation channels made of stone and earth. 3. The Royal hunting houses (one-floor buildings erected in broad plains over the 2000 m and intended to host the King and his court) are a precious historical and cultural heritage of the Park accessible to visitors.
1. Issue of authorizations for interventions on typical Alpine houses for the maintenance of characteristics and functionality: 100% success threshold 2. Issue of authorizations for interventions on rock art and painting, Roman roads and bridges, military buildings, medieval churches and castles, mountain pastures, paths and mule tracks for the maintenance of characteristics and functionality: 100% success threshold 3. Enhancement and use of the Royal Hunting Houses to make them accessible to visitors: 100% success threshold
The cultural, archaeological and historical values of the park are all in excellent condition and managed in accordance with the purposes of the park.
The trend of the park's cultural values has always been very high and has remained so.

Conservation Summary

Outcome of EAGL Vote on Site 

At least 80% agreement 

EAGL Summary on Site in English 

Foreword The application for renewal of registration in the Green List of the Gran Paradiso NP was discussed by experts of EAGL Italy on September 30, 2020 during a meeting held online (due to Covid-19 restrictions). In order to establish whether the criteria of the GL Standard have been met, each of the 50 indicators were assessed on the basis of the available documents reported by the candidate on Compass, the integrations requested on specific indicators, the contribution received from the stakeholders consultation and the first-hand impressions obtained by the EAGL representatives during the site visit run on 1-3 September. The EAGL members who were not able to participate to the meeting were consulted individually and their statement of vote, have been performed by email.

Component 1: Good Governance The site’s governance structure is clearly defined and, following the national legislation, the local communities is active part of the bodies involved in management decisions. Although the Park administration offices are located out of the protected area’s boundaries, there is a considerable presence of the Park staff and its facilities in the area (park rangers’ offices, researchers’ units, thematic visitor centres, etc.) with an excellent opportunity for residents and tourists to interact with it. Stakeholders’ opinions confirmed the transparency and accountability of the management body and the involvement of the local communities not only in decision making process but also in some projects design. Volunteers, local associations and the civil society in general are welcomed to help on specific activities (information to public, monitoring, administrative duties, etc.). Based on the evidences produced by the candidate, the integrations requested and the site visit observations, EAGL considers that the site meets all three criteria of the component.

Component 2: Sound Design and Planning The Park is part of numerous scientific projects and collaborations with research institutions in order to carry out specific studies on animal and plant biodiversity, effective management of focal species and habitats, as well as to identify threats to major site values. Results of scientific studies and monitoring are considered in the planning of conservation strategy while threats are clearly defined in the Natura 2000 sites management plans. During the site visit, a great teamwork was perceived which ensures that knowledge is shared in a more ecosystemic vision. Researchers in some cases benefit from special scholarships provided by the park. Concrete actions to respond to the socio-economic context are put in place specially in the field of the sustainable touristic development. Based on the evidences produced by the candidate, the integration requested and the site visit observations, EAGL considers that the site meets all four criteria of the component.

Component 3: Effective Management The Gran Paradiso NP is the oldest national protected area in Italy and its establishment dated almost 100 years ago (1922). Its long presence on the territory and the good work done during the years to positively solve disputes with the local administrations, has made possible an important work of consultation of long-term management objectives both in the context of conservation and sustainable socio-economic development (properly described in the Park’s management plan and pluriannual socio-economic development plan). A remarkable effort is done to manage the visitors access avoiding the circulation of private cars in favour of the use of Park’s shuttles which will also be hybrid in the next season. Visitor centres, information points and panels are in place to orientate tourists and visitors. At the same time an offer of educational activities and outreach events are put in place to raise awareness on natural and social values of the Park and its residents. Of utmost importance is the work of the Park rangers daily on the field to ensure the respect of the regulations, to help in collecting scientific data and monitoring biodiversity, to guide visitors, to maintain path and trails, etc.. Based on the evidences produced by the candidate, the integration requested and the site visit observations, EAGL considers that the site meets all seven criteria of the component.

Component 4: Successful Conservation Outcomes Successful conservation outcomes are demonstrated, for example, by the good results highlighted by long-term research programmes (dated since 1993-1994) on the ecology and conservation of the alpine ibex (Capra ibex) and alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). In recent years the rare bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) has successfully reproduced in the Park thanks to the conservation actions put in place in the area (see link to Panorama solutions https://panorama.solutions/en/solution/reduction-impacts-human-activities-bearded-vulture-nest) and the wolf (Canis lupus) has reappeared within the territory. Evaluation of ecosystem services with a special focus on forest and prairie habitats are object of recent studies while the use of surface water for energy production is monitored since many years thanks to EU projects funding. As a result, a payment of a yearly “environmental compensatory sum” by the electric company has been obtained by the Park and distributed to the local communities to ameliorate facilities and services. Cultural values are maintained in collaboration with local communities through the network of thematic visitor centres and the organisation of events to reinforce the sense of community and social identity. Socio-economic issues are considered thanks to the “Quality Label of the Park” that gather many economic entities under the shared guidelines of sustainability and maintenance of traditions. Based on the evidences produced by the candidate, the integration requested and the site visit observations, EAGL considers that the site meets all three criteria of the component.

Conclusions and Decision

EAGL Italy underlines the outstanding efforts of the GPNP to conserve nature, maintain traditions, support sustainable economic grow and evidence ecosystem services. Due to the initial phase of the evaluation of ecosystem services an Action Plan to declare future actions, milestones and threshold levels on this item has been asked to be prepared in the next 10-12 months (see uploaded file named “PNGP Action Plan”). The work done by the Park to respond to the GL Standard is experienced by all the Park staff (managers, rangers, researchers, guides, volunteers) as a process for improvement, not a point of arrival but a way to work also in the future on a daily basis in the sense of efficiency and effectiveness. Based on these evidences and the documents analysed, the experts of EAGL Italy positively support the renewal of the Gran Paradiso NP to the Green List (already listed during the pilot phase in 2014). Out of 11 EAGL members, 9 voted in favour while 1 abstained and 1 declared a conflict of interest. 

Reviewer Summary on Site process 

The Site submitted detailed information in relation to compliance with Green List Standard requirements. The relevant documentation is available on Compass. The EAGL requested additional information on several aspects, which the Gran Paradiso National Park provided. Some of the aspects relating to additional evidence the EAGL requested were also verified during the site visit. With regards to compliance evaluation relating to Component 4 of the GL standard, conclusions were reached and a positive decision was taken, based partly on systems and processes, also on studies that are currently taking place but, in some cases, still in the absence of confirmed outcomes. In order to follow up on the aspects where full compliance with the Green List standard could not be detected, the EAGL requested that the Gran Paradiso National park prepares an Action Plan. The stakeholder meeting organized during the site visit by the designated EAGL members was conducted in confidence, with a very good level of participation of a wide range of stakeholders. Excellent site visit report, reflecting accurately the learning process that took place during the site visit (as far as the reviewer could estimate, based on participation to the field visit remotely). The quorum for decision was confirmed and also the absence of Conflict of Interests (CoI) was confirmed for the EAGL members responsible for the evaluation and also for the EAGL decision-making meeting. One EAGL member abstained from the decision due to a previously declared CoI. The EAGL had some issues with regards to a few members not being operational and not being very responsive. Based on a request from the EAGL Chair, three EAGL members formally left the Italian EAGL during November 2020. With regards to the indicator found by the EAGL not to be in full compliance with GL requirements (4.2.2), the Gran Paradiso National Park presented iin February an Action Plan. The Italian EAGL will check the implementation of the proposed Action Plan according to the stated timeline. 

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