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Italian Meadowlands Under Threat

Prevent the Despoiling of the Magredi Steppe Landscape

An urgent appeal from conservationists united in the initiative for the Protection of the MAGREDI of CELLINA in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region - Italy., Magredi; typical Italian meadowlands similar to the Hungarian Puzta, are characteristic of the Alta Pianura Friulana (High Friuli Plain). This countryside consists primarily of wide, undisturbed spaces, with rare endemic flora and breed or stopover habitats for many steppe region bird species.

Despite the on-paper protection of such areas (Aree di reperimento, L.R.42/96) and the definition of Two Sites of Common Interest (SIC) and more recently of a Place of Relevant Environmental Interest (ARIA), an international cross-country rally, comparable to the Paris-Dakar motor race, is being planned in the middle of the Magredi region of the Cellina-Meduna rivers.

The plain fact is that the Magredi are in reality less protected today than they were 20 years ago. Paradoxically they have become the scene of incidents reported daily by the mass media and are now a symbol of human destruction of natural resources: dumping or illegal storage of asbestos and (under investigation) depleted uranium, landfills, and uncontrolled industrial and infrastructural development. The final straw for the environment is illegal use by motorcycles and SUVs under the auspices of the Italian Baja club (Pajero cowboys), which scar and suffocate the Magredi with a network of tracks and ruts.This is taking place at a much more intense level than official organisations want to admit. And, as with most environmental damage, the indirect consequence - primarily fragmentation and abandonment of habitat - are probably more serious than the visible damage. It also leads to a general increase in recreational and leisure activities that increase the pressure on the flora and fauna and their biotopes. A stop must be put to the official sympathy shown for the destructive activities of organisations like the Italian Baja by ending the financing and the patronage of such initiatives. It is high time that the authorities admitted that the present regulations and legislation, and their ineffective implementation, do not afford adequate protection to theMagredi. The only worthwhile solution would be the establishment of a nature reserve with a proper monitoring, control and enforcement structure as for other natural areas of outstanding importance in Italy.The organizers of the various rallies are attempting to organise a major rally in Magredi from 15th to 18th March 2004. Last December a local campaign of SMS and fax messages to the local media succeeded in having the rally moved to a less sensitive location outside the Magredi. Speaking in Berlin today, Proact founder David Conlin said: This time we appeal to our friends worldwide for support for our campaign to stop a small but well organized and powerful group of persons, with good political contacts, imposing their will on the majority and contributing to the destruction of an original and natural resource, rich in biodiversity, which belongs to us all.

A draft email text with contact addresses for the responsible authorities and Italian media is athttp://www.proact-campaigns.net/localcampaigns/id31.html

For further information, contact: David Conlin - Proact, campaigning for birds and their habitats. Join in at http://www.proactcampaigns.net/team the internet lobby forum of birders - for birders.

4th July 2014