In Italy the word birdwatching was actually unknown before the eighties. Thanks to the Lipu (Birdlife Italy) before and Ebn (Italian Birding Association) then, now the birdwatching has spread even if Italy is the western country with less practitioners. However the extraordinary biodiversity of this Mediterranean country has deserved the establishment of many protected areas and national parks, even if there are still problems of poaching and sometimes the country is especially known for this last issue.
The first participation in absolute terms of an Italian team in an international competition wants however to represent the desire to be this time an active part in a large conservation project as the one the friends of Champions of the Flyway are realizing to give a hand to Doğa Derneği to stop the illegal killing of birds in Turkey! In addition the team also wants to be the ambassador of the protected area of the Po Delta, that, the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in June 2015, because of the richness of stunning landscapes, architecture and urban settlements.
The Po Delta biosphere reserve is located in northern Italy and comprises 139,398 hectares, covering 16 municipalities and with 120,000 inhabitants. The area is a plain produced by the Po River’s action and recent human activities and is the only delta in Italy. The site includes the confluence of river branches, coastal dune systems and sand formations, lagoons, fishing ponds, marshes, fossil dunes, canals and coastal pine forests, vast brackish wetlands and cultivated lands dominated by rice farming. These landscapes provide an exceptional heritage of biodiversity due to their range of habitats. Tourism is one of the main economic activities of the local communities, along with agriculture and fish farming. Sustainable tourism could be promoted.
Environmental and cultural education aimed at the general public is an important activity of the biosphere reserve. We have adopted the Pygmy Cormorant as a symbol since this species have been nesting regularly in the Po Delta since 1994 and later the breeding population has risen sharply. In 2004 more than 600 pairs were reported there and at present there are more than 1000 breeding pairs. During recent winters, 2500-3000 individuals have been counted at Po Delta and Venice lagoon, whit a maximum of 5200 counted last winter in the Po Delta alone. The Pygmy Cormorant represents a success of policies for limitation of hunting and poaching activities besides protection of nesting habitats carried out during last decades after the institution of the protected area.
We hope that what is happening in Italy and in the Po Delta may be a good omen for facilitating the improvement of the situation in Turkey too. For this reason we invite our Italian friends and all the visitors to this page to make a donation by clicking on the button in the top right !