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A long collaboration

Projects and working together

1994: the first release of Bearded Vulture in Argentera Nature Park (G. Bernardi/PNAM).

Since 1987 when the twinning agreement was signed, the two Parks Alpi Marittime and Mercantour have never stopped working together. Over the last 25 years, the collaboration has broadened and we have begun trials on integrated management, with a view to the creation of a single protected area. This ambitious goal, to become the first European Park has been brought much closer by the Interreg and Alcotra projects.

The EU launched the Interreg programme in 1990 to strengthen cohesion and integrated development in the cross-border areas. Nothing could have been better suited to Alpi Marittime and Mercantour's aims, they took the opportunity offered by Interreg I (1991-1993), and presented several projects of considerable impact. The bearded vulture reintroduction project began and a network of paths was identified to produce the Montagne senza frontiere guide book and maps.

With Interreg II (1994-1999), the two Parks' projects became more complex. Indeed, while the projects were up and running a new theme emerged with the natural return of wolves to the Southern Alps: a scientific research project was set up, a comunication campaign began to lay the foundations for the wildlife centres “Alpha” at Saint Martin Vésubie and “Uomini e lupi” at Entracque. There was also work in the fields of fauna management and botanic research. An inventory of endemic and rare species was published and there was experimentation on the use of wild flowers for ornamental purposes.

Interreg III (2000-2006) saw the publication on the Action plan for sustainable development and protection. This document set out in detail the actions necessary to form a single park. This project put particular emphasis on the transboundary path network, on building a common image of the Parks and an integrated tourist promotion through the concept of the Grand Tour Alpi Marittime Mercantour. The Grand Tour is a circular road route around the two Parks and constitutes a precise starting point for the creation of common tourist products.

Created and financed in the framework of the Alcotra 2007-2013 project, the Integrated Territorial Plan (PIT) “Marittime Mercantour cross-border area: natural and cultural diversity at the centre of sustainable and integrated development” was the most ambitious task the Parks have taken on in recent years. Among the many actions of the PIT project a fundamental one was the creation of a common operative body, defined according to community regulations European groupings of territorial cooperation (EGTC). This entity was created to manage at a extranational level, guaranteeing the two bodies the possibility of working in the best possible manner and will bring the cooperation which has distinguished the history of Alpi Marittime and Mercantour Parks to a new level.

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