Habitat conservation in Italy: the state of the art in the light of the first European Red List of Terrestrial and Freshwater Habitats

  • D. GiganteEmail author
  • A. T. R. Acosta
  • E. Agrillo
  • S. Armiraglio
  • S. Assini
  • F. Attorre
  • S. Bagella
  • G. Buffa
  • L. Casella
  • C. Giancola
  • G. P. Giusso del Galdo
  • C. Marcenò
  • G. Pezzi
  • I. Prisco
  • R. Venanzoni
  • D. Viciani
Vegetation Science and Habitats Directive


The importance of taking into account ecosystems, plant communities and habitats for the development of biodiversity conservation strategies is increasingly acknowledged. Recently, the first ever European Red List of Habitats was produced, which provided an evaluation of the extinction risk of EUNIS-based natural and semi-natural habitats in Europe. As assessment unit, it used the habitat intended as a plant community, thus representing a landmark for the role of vegetation science in nature conservation. In the present paper, the results of the European Red List of Habitats are analyzed at the national scale with specific reference to the terrestrial and freshwater habitat types occurring in Italy. More than three-quarters of the assessed European habitat types were recognized for the Italian territory. The distribution of the threat categories reflects approximately the situation at the EU28 level. About 35% of the assessed habitat types are referred to a threat category; no critically endangered habitat is present in Italy. The most frequently used criteria are those related to a reduction in quantity. Some critical issues arising from the analyses are discussed. In particular, the presence of knowledge gaps is pointed out, with remarkable reference to the poor availability of spatial and quantitative data, severely affecting the application of the criteria adopted for the assessment. Descriptions of habitat types from Italy are reported, some of which are representative, emblematic or even exclusive to the Italian territory. The outcomes of the analysis represent the starting point for the future development of a national-scale Red List of Habitats. Results also emphasized how habitat types with a too broad definition pose a limit to a proper evaluation of the regional biogeographic variability, often very high in Italy, with local floristic and phytocoenotic peculiarities which do not find room in the adopted European typology. This is the reason why the development of national subtypes stands as a necessary step for the development of a realistic and effective assessment at the national scale.


Assessment Biodiversity Plant community Risk of extinction Threat 


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Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Biology and BiotechnologyUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Department of SciencesUniversity of Roma 3RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Environmental BiologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  4. 4.Natural Science Museum of BresciaBresciaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Earth and Environmental ScienceUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Chemistry and PharmacyUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  7. 7.Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and StatisticsCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly
  8. 8.Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e Ricerca AmbientaleRomeItaly
  9. 9.Department of Bioscience and TerritoryUniversity of MolisePescheItaly
  10. 10.Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  11. 11.Department of Plant Biology and EcologyUniversity of the Basque Country UPV/EHUBilbaoSpain
  12. 12.Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  13. 13.Department of BiologyUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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