Nature and Research
The protection and conservation of the exceptional natural heritage of the Maritime Mercantour area are coming the institutional aims of the two parks. But, to protect and better manage a territory, you must know its every aspect: from geology to zoology, from botany to meteorology. This is why research is essential: in fact, only field work and laboratory work can tell us what there is (such as habitat and species) in the Parks and how it works (relationship between habitats and species, dynamic intra- and inter-specific structure, and evolution of ecosystems). It is for this project that expert researchers and students, geologists, biologists, naturalists, and veterinarians, all coordinated by the staff of protected areas, alternating years in the study of the environment of the two parks with passion and dedication.
The two Maritime and Mercantour Parks have numerous collaborations in the scientific world with universities and scientific research institutes both domestic and international, all of which result in long-term ecological surveys of species of conservation interest. An example? The “Progetto Camoscio”, which, for years, has been working side by side with the Parco delle Alpi Marittime Italian and Canadian researchers. All scientific activities and monitoring are carried out in close collaboration with the rangers, who provide essential technical and operational support, without which a lot of research would be impossible.
The two Parks are real laboratories out in the open, as well as being training grounds for young researchers, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to carry out studies and theses while experiencing first-hand aspects of ecological research in the field. Interreg and Alcotra, both cross-border projects, have the permission to multiply opportunities for contact and exchange between researchers from both sides and have made possible the realization of initiatives of higher education such as the PIT Summer School. This initiative, carried out as part of the Piano Integrato Transfrontaliero and born from a collaboration between the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime and the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in Ferrara with contributions from the DEST (Distributed European School of Taxonomy), proposes to twenty aspiring scientists from all over the world, a week of lectures, and laboratory and field work all conducted by expert taxidermists and ecologists.
The territory of the Maritime and Mercantour Alps has the privilege of being selected as a pilot area for the first Inventario Biologico Generalizzato (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory + Monitoring, ATBI+M) in Europe, a project that has, from its inception, enjoyed the precious support of the Gouvernement Princier, of the Fondation Albert II de Monaco, the Ministère de l’Ecologie et du développement durable. Two prestigious scientific museums have consolidated their involvement in the project over the years, so that they can keep and display their many findings from the Inventario Biologico: the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris and the Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali in Turin.
The Inventario Biologico aims to catalogue the biological diversity of a specific area in a limited time and to arrange for that monitoring. After a few years of research, there were 1800 species of invertebrates just in the Parc National du Mercantour, a number which suggests the possible presence of some 8000 species of invertebrates in the Park! Much remains to be discovered!
An open air laboratory (9 pictures)
In order to provide all the knowledge of the environmental features of the two protected areas an Atlas of Natural Heritage was formed. It’s files can be found in this section of the portal.