VisPO – acronym for Volunteer Initiative for a Sustainable Po, is the name of the project which for 3 years will involve 230 volunteers between 18 and 30 years of age in cleaning and valorising the banks of the Po and its tributaries in Piedmont.

The LIFE-VisPo project will be deployed on 12 macro-areas, which will represent a total of 40 Natura 2000 sites. Such macro-areas are located not exclusively on the river Po. On the contrary, most of them lie on the territories of the tributaries of the Po. This is due to the fact that intervening upstream when dealing with pollution issues, is vital: implementing our cleaning-up actions merely on the PO area would therefore have less effect than rather considering its tributaries as target areas.

The Life VisPO Project will intervene in these areas with targeted cleaning actions, with actions involving the volunteers and citizens, turning on the spotlight on SIC Natura 2000. Cleaning actions will be the tool to make citizens aware of the value and delicacy of these sites.

In Hungary, the exchange of best practises, the knowledge transfer and demonstration activities will take place along the Northern part of the river Danube, in Natura 2000 site HUD20034.

The Life VisPO project will visit some sites of the Natura 200 program, but above all it will have the task of improving these areas, knowing ESC volunteers first, but also to all citizens

The project started at the beginning of 2018 with the contribution of the LIFE financial program of the European Union and the rural development policy EAFRD in the context of the “LIFE Preparatory Project in Support of European Solidarity Corps” which promotes actions with environmental priority to support of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) and which sees the involvement and exchange of experiences with 20 volunteers engaged in similar initiatives on the Danube in Hungary. A volunteering and learning experience for young people under 30 through close operational contact with the environment and its problems.

Project objectives
The LIFE-VisPO project intends to address the challenges identified above through a set of actions which aim to:
  • Develop an effective model for volunteer involvement in cleaning-up activities of rivers and for support to scientists and researchers
  • Change the perception of civil society towards the river area, valorising it as a space for social and leisure activities
  • Proposing a working method matching environmental protection with sport activities
  • Raise awareness about the necessity of the valorisation of the river at local (Piedmont), transregional (Northern Italy) and EU level
  • Test the actions which have been designed on the Po on another major EU river with comparable characteristics (Danube in Hungary)
Actions and means involved
In order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, LIFE-VisPo project plans to implement a set of activities on both the river Po and partly on the Danube. River Po and its tributaries. In Piedmont, the project sees the close collaboration of LPDVA Piemonte with the scientific partner Arpa Piemonte, to carry out the following activities:
  • Recruitment of 230 local volunteers (+ other 20 to be recruited in Hungary) to be involved in cleaning-up activities of the rivers
  • Delivery of training modules to volunteers and operators of territorial circles on several topics to provide them with the tools to effectively and safely cleaning-up the river 
  • Carry out cleaning-up activities on 12 macro-areas, corresponding to at least one Natura 2000 site: all activities will be carried out in 40 Natura 2000 sites in Piedmont, plus 1 in Hungary.
  • Cleaning-up activities will consist in both waste collection and identification and removal of invasive species  in Piedmont areas as well as in Hungary
  • Organise three events targeting 50 volunteers at local rowing clubs in Turin, with the purpose of training them on the use of kayaks and enable the use of kayaks for waste collection and invasive species identification.
  • Organise events and awareness raising activities at local level in each of the 12 macro-areas in order to raise awareness about the action among local civil society
  • Organise events and awareness raising activities targeting institutional stakeholders both at regional and transregional level. The transregional event aims addresses institutions for the regions where the Po flows through.
  • Collect best practices at EU level, also through networking with other LIFE and non-LIFE relevant projects
  • Elaborate an after-LIFE plan to ensure the sustainability and the continuity of the action after the end of the LIFE-VisPO project.
Danube area in Hungary. Activities to be carried out on the Danube are on a smaller scale, but are extremely relevant in the view of enabling the replicability of the project in other contexts. Activities will consist in:
  • Recruit and involve approximately 20 in-country volunteers to be involved in waste collection activities on kayaks (volunteers will be chosen among having experience in rowing and kayaking)
  • Cleaning-up activities consisting in both waste collection and identification and removal of invasive species
  • Delivery of training modules to volunteers to provide them with the tools to effectively and safely cleaning-up the river 
  • Organise exchanges between Hungarian and Italian volunteers to share knowledge on the activities and the context in each country
  • Raise awareness among civil society and institutional stakeholders about current challenges on the river, the project objectives, measures to be adopted and the ESC initiative.
Areas of intervention
The areas of intervention are those which develop along the course of the river Po and its tributaries. Specifically, action will be taken in the SIC Natura 2000 areas identified by the project. To see the SIC areas, simply follow this link
Partners

A project by

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In partnership with

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In the context of:

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What is Life
LIFE is a Program introduced by the European Union in 1992, with which projects on environmental issues proposed by the member countries are co-financed. The objective is to provide specific support for the development and implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation, in particular to pursue the objectives of the Seventh Community Environment Action Program. Funded projects can be proposed by public or private operators, bodies or institutions. LIFE is the funding program for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020, and has a total budget of over 3.450 million of euro. The main objectives of the LIFE Program are:
  1. contribute to the transition to an efficient economy in terms of resources, with lower carbon emissions and resilient to climate change. Contribute to the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and to the interruption and reversal of the biodiversity loss process, including support for the Natura 2000 network and the fight against the degradation of ecosystems;
  2. improve the development, implementation and application of Union environmental policy and legislation. Catalyzing and promoting the integration and dissemination of environmental and climate objectives in other Union policies and in practice in the public and private sectors, including through increasing their capacity;
  3. further support environmental climate governance at all levels, including increased participation by civil society, NGOs and local actors;
  4. support the implementation of the 7th Environmental Action Program.
The LIFE + program includes the following two sub-programs.
  • LIFE "Environment": o environment and resource use; o nature and biodiversity; o governance and information on the environment.
  • LIFE "Climate Action": o mitigation of climate change; o adaptation to climate change; o governance and information on climate.
  • LIFE "Information and communication".
Through the "calls" that are annually proposed by the European Commission it is possible to present projects in one of the LIFE strands. To find out more about the LIFE Program, you can download informative material and forms, check the deadlines of the last "call" and view LIFE projects you can visit the dedicated website of the European Commission - Environment (Insights in English): https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/life
Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive 2009/147/CE. Natura 2000 consists of the Sites of Community Interest (SIC), identified by the Member States as established by the Habitats Directive, now designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), and also includes the Special Protection Zones established under the Directive 2009/147 / EC “Birds” concerning the conservation of wild birds. Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves from which all human activities would be excluded. While it includes strictly protected nature reserves, most of the land remains privately owned. The approach to conservation and sustainable use of the Natura 2000 areas is much wider, largely centered on people working with nature rather than against it. However, Member States must ensure that the sites are managed in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically. In Italy, the SCI, the SAC and the SPAs cover a total of about 19% of the national land territory and almost 4% of the marine territory.
ESC
The European Voluntary Service is a unique opportunity to get in touch with different cultures and to acquire new skills and abilities useful for personal and professional growth. It also allows to develop skills in relationships with people of different languages and culture, to promote active citizenship and to support the development of local communities. Among the various initiatives of the European Union in favour of volunteering there is the European Solidarity Corps which offers young people work or volunteering opportunities, in their own country or abroad, in the context of projects ranging from social aspects (reception of refugees and migrants, support for communities affected by natural disasters, fight against early school leaving the protection of the environment (monitoring of endangered species, projects related to climate change in areas including agriculture, forestry and fishing). ESC360 project falls within this framework, one of the main objectives is to train 360 volunteers in the monitoring of protected species included in the Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive within the sites of the Natura2000 network present in Italy.