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Introducing Gypsum

The main objective of the project is the protection of a habitat which has not received great attention at EU level, Caves not open to the public (8310), in a very specific context: gypsum karst ecosystems, which represent a peculiarity of great conservation value, as they hosts a very particular flora and fauna, adapted to gypsum substrate.

The value in terms of biodiversity of the area of the Emilia Romagna region that includes evaporites, sedimentary rock formed by the precipitation of salts, is well known, as gypsum outcrops on the hills that run from Reggio Emilia to Rimini are among the largest in Europe.

The project will take place in all the regional Natura 2000 sites (6), which include Caves not open to the public on gypsum substrate. About 10% of the European Natura 2000 sites including this particular subtype of habitat will be addressed by the project.

The project intends to protect the gypsum caves as a whole living organism, from the point of entrance to the exit, considering the habitat in the context of the karst system and including the water bodies.

The other natural habitat types connected with this karst landscape listed in Annex I of the Habitats directive, addressed by the project, are:
- 8210 Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation,
- 6110 *Rupicolous calcareous or basophilic grasslands of the Alysso-Sedion albi, both located at the entrances of the caves,
- 7210 *Calcareous fens with Cladium mariscus and species of the Caricion davallianae, which is a resurgence habitat. 

Among the species linked with these habitats the project is aimed at monitoring and protecting the troglophilous chiropteran population.

Two provinces, one National park and two regional park will share their efforts to reach the following specific objectives:
1) Apply best practice and demonstration actions to protect the four habitats and all the bats species associated to the gypsum karstic ecosystem within 6 Natura 2000 sites.
2) Reduction/elimination of the threats to the habitats/species, in particular the impact of anthropogenic pressures.
3) Establish a common approach for the long-term protection of these habitats based on sound monitoring of biotic and abiotic characteristics and a specific management plan.
4) Increase the level of awareness of local population (students, local inhabitants, tourists) and stakeholders on the importance of these habitats not only for their landscape value.

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