The first step for managing properly a protected natural area consists in a greater knowledge of the natural habitats and of their ecological balances. Since the establishment of the reserves, Legambiente has been workingto promote several study and research projects together with Universities, other research institutions and experts in particular fields, in order to better understand local issues and direct the managing activities.
Nature maps of each site have been drawn; they report the results of the studies and surveys regarding geology and geomorphology, flora, vegetation and land use, fauna and marine habitats. Moreover, the main climatic parameters (temperature and humidity) and carbon dioxide inside the caves are monitored annually, to acquire important data on the vulnerable underground balances and to control eventual impact caused by use.
Legambiente was also involved in the organization of the Management Plans of the Natura 2000 sites which include the natural reserves entrusted to the association: a task that enables updates, highlighting the main threat factors and planning the necessary interventions to protect the sites and to promote compatible activities.
The Caretta caretta sea turtle
Since 1997 the sea turtle nests on the Conigli (Rabbits) Beach in Lampedusa have been monitored yearly to study the reproduction of the species and to recognize hazards in order to promptly protect the nesting areas. In the last 15 years, 30 nests were made and 2,197 hatchlings were born, with over 80% hatching rate. The monitoring activity, together with the concomitant measures for the protection of the nesting areas represents a guideline for the preservation of Caretta caretta.
A new cave dwelling species
Bio-speleological studies carried out in the Santa Ninfa Cave have discovered a species new to science: it is the Choneiulus faunaeuropeae, a small, depigmented millipede that lives among the debris in the lower part of the cavity. This discovery represents a small but symbolic contribution to increase awareness about the biodiversity of our planet.
The “Small Islands” project
Due to its geographical position, the island of Lampedusa is an extraordinary stopover site for birds migrating from Africa to Europe. To get to know more about migration routes and the biology of migrating birds, the “Island of Lampedusa” nature reserve joined the “Small Islands” program promoted by ISPRA (Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) and by the Ringing Station of Palermo. Censuses were carried out on birds migrating towards the breeding grounds.