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European Diploma of the Protected Areas

The European Diploma of Protected Areas was created in 1965 and is awarded to natural and semi-natural protected areas that are of European interest from the point of view of conservation of biological, geological or landscape diversity, and enjoy adequate protection. The Diploma is awarded for a period of five years and is renewable. Usually, conditions and recommendations are attached to the award in order to stimulate managing authorities to maintain a high level of protection. One of the main features of this recognition is that it is awarded only every five years, and the perspective of a failure to renew pushes the single managing authority to avoid decisions that would constitute a threat to the ecological values of the protected area. The awarding modality is complex and severe and forecasts an assessment in loco by an expert, as well as annual reports.

More than 60 areas in 23 states have so far received this prestigious award, which demonstrates both the interest at a European level and the quality management.

The Committee of Ministers of the European Union, with Resolution n. 16 of 15 June 2005, gave Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Park the European Diploma for Protected Areas, the most important prize awarded by the Council of Europe to the managers of protected areas. The presentation ceremony was held on the occasion of the feast of the patron of the park, San Giovanni Gualberto, July 12, 2005, in the presence of authorities of the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Environment, the Tuscany Regional Authority and the Park.

Among the main features identified in the text of the resolution the natural values are mentioned, in particular the co-presence of boreal and Mediterranean vegetation, humid relict forests, a lake surrounded by marsh and coastal dunes of great interest; the landscape values, as the great historic estates, the intact banks and the wide forests; the cultural values, with many historical marks as the earliest evidences dating back to the Neolithic period, the 11th century Basilica of San Piero a Grado , the estates and farms established between the 16th and the 18th century.

In Italy there are six protected areas that have received this award: Abruzzo National Park (1967), Sasso Fratino Natural Reserve (1985), Montecristo Island Natural Reserve (1988), Regional Park of Maremma (1992), Alpi Marittime Natural Park (1993), Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Park (2005).

In March 2010 the Group of Specialists of the Council of Europe has renewed for another 10 years the European Diploma to the Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Park Authority, confirming the positive opinion on the exceptional natural, cultural and landscape value of the Park and on the quality of its management.

For further information, please visit the web site of the Council of Europe