Testing the effectiveness of the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of plant protection products (NPAN) for the protection of biodiversity

Research Project

5 years (2015-2020)


The project, funded by MATTM and coordinated by ISPRA, was carried out between 2015 and 2020 in collaboration with ARPA Piemonte, ARPA Lazio, University of Turin, University of Rome "Tor Vergata". This experimentation was carried out by analysing the differences between conventional and organic cultivation in rice fields and vineyards (in Piedmont), arable crops and hazelnut groves (in Latium). This is based on the assumption that the organic method is the one most compatible with biodiversity conservation, as indicated in Measure 13 of the NAP Guidelines (as per Ministerial Decree 10/3/2015). The results of monitoring in each pair (organic vs. conventional) took place in 24 farms with different status and impact descriptors of selected bio-indicators along the trophic network of agroecosystems. This focused on topics ranging from flora and edaphic communities to bats (pedofauna, terrestrial arthropods, flora, vegetation, flora of bee interest, apoids, rhopalocerous lepidopterans, odonates, amphibians, saurians, birds and bats). In the selected fields, water and soil sampling was also carried out to detect residues of plant protection products used by the farms and their ecotoxicity, and to define the physical-chemical characteristics of the soils, the results of which were correlated with those of the monitoring of bio-indicators.

In general, it emerged that, although no particular criticalities were found from a chemical and ecotoxicological point of view (except for some that were beyond the use of products of the individual farm considered), the comparison of the data collected in the two types of fields showed that the vegetation and animal communities are better structured and more complex in organic fields than in conventional ones.

The experimentation carried out confirmed the effectiveness of the measures in the NAP Guidelines that concern the protection of biodiversity (Measures 13 and 16) and made it possible to define proposals for monitoring protocols that can be used by ARPAs/APPAs, as well as regions and managing bodies of protected areas. This includes Natura 2000 sites to verify the effects of plant protection products on the species and habitats that characterise agro-ecosystems. The study has also made it possible to define further management indications for the agroecosystems considered, in order to make agricultural activity, particularly in protected areas, Natura 2000 sites and Ramsar Zones, more compatible with the conservation of biodiversity.

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