In Italy the legislative framework for national and regional protected areas is the Law n. 394 of 6 December 1991 . This sets out the fundamental principles for the establishment and management of protected natural areas regarding their mission, classification and governance.
The framework law for protected areas defines their classification:
National Parks: consisting of areas of land, river, lake or seawater that contain one or more intact ecosystems or even partially altered by encroachment, one or more physical, geological, geomorphological, biological formations, of international or national importance for their natural, scientific, aesthetic, cultural, educational and recreational values such as to require action by the State to preserve them for the present and future generations.
Regional and inter-regional nature parks: consisting of terrestrial areas, waterways,lakes and in some cases marine areas on the coastline, of natural and environmental value, which taking one or more neighbouring regions, constitute a homogeneous system. These can be identified by the natural configuration of the area, by landscape, artistic values and cultural traditions of the local population.
Nature reserves consisting of terrestrial areas, river, lake or sea that contain one or more important plant or animal species, or have one or more important ecosystems for biological diversity or for the conservation of genetic resources. Nature reserves may be national or regional on the basis of the importance of the natural elements they represent.
Wetlands of international interest: consisting of marshy areas, swamps, peat bogs or natural lakes or reservoirs, permanent or transitional areas, including sea-shore which, at low tide, does not exceed six meters depth, that, for their characteristics, can be considered of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Other natural protected areas: are areas (environmental associations' oases and suburban parks, etc.) that are not covered by the above categories. They are divided into areas under public management, established by regional laws or equivalent measures, and privately managed areas, established with formal public measures or with acts such as contractual concessions or equivalent forms.
Potential land and marine park areas: indicated by Laws Nos 394/91 and 979/82, these are areas whose conservation, through the establishment of protected areas, is considered a priority.
Where Parks are concerned, Piedmont was a pioneer Region. It was the first in Italy in 1975 to adopt a framework law; two years later the Regional Plan for protected areas was approved, which was followed by the actual institution of the first parks and nature reserves.
A pivotal moment for Parks in Piedmont came with the consolidation act on the protection of natural areas and biodiversity ( Lr n. 19 of 29 June 2009) that redefined conservation by introducing the concept of biodiversity protection and by establishing the Regional Ecological Network for the management of various protected areas. As part of the European Union's Natura 2000 project, 168 SCI (Sites of Community Importance) and 41 SPAs (Special Protection Areas), have been identified in Piedmont, which has brought the regional land area under protection to 12%.
The Consolidation Act has been modified several times. The most important changes came about with the passing of the Law n. 19 of 3 August 2015. This new law provides for a review of the governance of the regional protected areas, the creation of two new protected areas, the supervision of the Sacri Monti religious features to the Culture and Tourism sector of the regional administration, except for environmental issues concerning these areas which will remain the responsibility of the Parks sector. The change that affects our Park most is the unification of some protected areas. We have seen the formation of the Governing body of the Alpi Marittime protected areas which from 1 January 2016 which will administer new areas beyond the Gesso Vermenagna and Stura valleys, including Parco naturale del Marguareis, the Riserve naturali dei Ciciu del Villar, sorgenti del Belbo, Crava Morozzo, the Grotte di Bossea and Benevagienna.
In addition to the above laws, to have a complete picture of the legislation affecting protected areas please consult this page Protected areas and Natura 2000 on the Piedmont Region website.
Page updated 5 November 2105