The Valtellina (whose geographical limits coincide with the province of Sondrio) hosts a large number of protected areas, including several SCI/ZPS sites belonging to the Natura 2000 Network, mostly located upstream along the slopes of the Rhaetian and Orobian Alps. In addition, the valley is crossed by the Adda upper river, for which there is a negotiated programming framework agreement (Contratto di fiume dell’Alto bacino del Fiume Adda), promoted by the Comunità Montana Valtellina di Sondrio and signed in May 2019 by more than 50 local authorities and subjects. The agreement aims to protect and enhance the territory and landscape and river environment of the entire upper Adda river basin and envisages an action, called the “Adda Greenway”, to identify and map all the multifunctional riparian areas, i.e. those with a hydrogeological, ecological, landscape, tourist-recreational and slow mobility function.
The Valtellina territory was an exemplary case study in which Etifor was able to manage a participatory governance process to promote collaboration between different entities and develop the ecological network of the Valtellina valley floor. This process is part of the C21 Action of the LIFE IP Gestire 2020 project, coordinated by ERSAF and the Lombardy Region. The aim of this project is to test innovative governance models for the management and conservation of biodiversity in several priority areas in Lombardy, including Valtellina.
The establishment of the participatory process followed a careful analysis of critical issues carried out by Etifor, which highlighted the following points:
- The valley floor, particularly that of the lower valley, is very important and strategic from an environmental point of view as it allows the movement of fauna in the ecological network. However, the area is very anthropized and not very functional from an ecological point of view. Fragmentation is due both to the presence of infrastructures and urban centres and to the productive activities (industrial and agricultural) that are widespread throughout the territory.
- The urban planning tools of the municipalities are not homogeneous and struggle to enhance local ecological elements.
- The Contratto di fiume dell’Alto bacino del Fiume Adda has great potential, but it is limited by the lack of practical and operational implications. This is also due to the lack of adhesion of some important stakeholders, such as the majority of the municipalities of the lower valley.
Following Etifor’s consultancy, the project continued with the activation of a participative path addressed to the local authorities of the lower Valtellina area with the following objectives:
- Involve and activate local stakeholders for the definition and development of the Adda Greenway, intended as a supra-municipal ecological network in the lower Valtellina area.
- Identify concrete actions and funding opportunities to support the Adda Greenway.
- Strengthen the existing governance initiative (Contratto di fiume) and align it with the objectives of the LIFE IP Gestire 2020 project concerning ecological connectivity and biodiversity conservation.
The pathway was developed over the course of one year, during which 5 meetings were organised with the participation of 15 local authorities, including the Province of Sondrio, the Comunità Montana di Sondrio and Morbegno, the lower Valtellina municipalities, and the Lombardy Region. The process produced a shared framework document on the Adda Greenway in the lower Valtellina area and a Framework of Interventions for its management and development, containing also relevant funding opportunities.
In the lower Valtellina area, through the work of Etifor, an already partially identified project action was given more impetus and concreteness. In addition, the collaboration between local authorities was promoted with animation and involvement activities, providing the territory with a working strategy for the development of the ecological network.
Etifor provided the technical assistance that enabled the setting up, organisation and facilitation of the governance process, with the logistical support of ERSAF’s territorial office. In particular, Etifor conducted the participatory moments, which due to the pandemic took place online, proposing innovative approaches and techniques, such as the online participatory mapping. This approach allowed the identification and mapping of priority interventions for the Adda Greenway, starting from the measures of the regional Prioritised Action Framework (PAF). At the end of the process, Etifor presented the governance experience and its outcomes to the Lombardy Region and, subsequently, to the Assembly of the Adda River Contract supra-regional meeting, where the outcomes were officially acknowledged.