Last Thursday 25th and Friday 26th January, we were visited in the Natural Park of Cap de Creus by representatives of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park, the University of Florence and the company Nature and Environment Management Operators (NEMO), members of the LIFE LETSGO Giglio project. The aim of this visit was to get to know and exchange experiences between their LIFE project and LIFE medCLIFFS.
The LETSGO Giglio project aims to improve the quality and the natural character of the ecosystem of the island of Giglio, protecting its habitats and its species. During their visit to the Natural Park of Cap de Creus, they showed a special interest in the strategies for the eradication and control of pigface (Carpobrotus spp.), a problem we share. On Giglio, as well as on other islands of the Tuscan archipelago, the eradication of pigface was carried out by manual removal (as planned in the LIFE medCLIFFS project), chemical control and covering the invaded areas with geotextile netting. The results of these three techniques applied on the Italian islands, together with annual replanting, show a recovery of the flora a few years after the interventions, a fact that surprised us and gave us hope. Implementing the application of geotextile netting control in the Cap de Creus Natural Park is complicated due to the usual high wind speed in the area, but it, but it was very enriching to learn about the different control and removal strategies applied to an environment very similar to ours.
In addition to the actions focused on Carpobrotus, we also shared our experiences in the management of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) and gazania (Gazania rigens). The discussion went beyond the methods used, exploring the complexities associated with mouflon eradication, wild rabbit control and the restoration of holm oak and Aleppo pine forests, actions also contemplated by LETSGO Giglio in its environment. In addition, they also showed great interest in biological control methods, both in those used by the LIFE medCLIFFS project with the carmine mealybug (Dactylopius opuntiae), and in the study by the University of Girona funded by the Girona Provincial Council on the use of Verticillium sp. in the biological control of the ailanthus (Ailanthus altisima). They also wanted to highlight the value of having biological control methods outside our control, such as the agave weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus), which has controlled and reduced the population of agaves (Agave americana) throughout the Costa Brava.
The collaboration was not limited to the exchange of knowledge, but also included the joint exploration of future initiatives. One of these initiatives is the creation of a volunteer network for the early detection of invasive species, an idea that caught the attention of LETSGO Giglio, with the intention of replicating it in the Arcipelago Toscano National Park.
This meeting was made possible thanks to the communication and networking strategies implemented by LIFE medCLIFFS. The communication plans and the volunteer network, which we also shared with our guests, are crucial tools for the replication of successful initiatives at regional, national and European level.
In summary, this meeting between LIFE LETSGO Giglio and LIFE medCLIFFS represents an opportunity for building bridges and creating synergies between LIFE projects, contributing to the well-being of our coastal ecosystems and extending the benefits of successful actions across borders.
We are confident that we will maintain our collaboration and continue to share experiences to ensure a more sustainable future for our natural environments.
Text: Arnau Bosch